Botnets are fleets of unwitting devices hijacked by hackers and ordered to access websites and Web services simultaneously.
Although the primary use of these annoying devices is to overwhelm the servers of targeted websites, they can also be used for click fraud, artificially padding the bill of pay-per-click customers.
However, the bots are used, they are tough to shut down. However, there are several techniques that you can use to combat this problem and keep your website available to legitimate visitors. To implement these strategies, you need the right tools.
Here is our list of the seven best botnet detection software:
- SolarWinds Security Event Manager EDITOR’S CHOICE this on-premises package protects your network from botnet attacks that overwhelm or bypass firewall security. This will also stop your devices from being hijacked into a botnet. It runs as a virtual appliance.
- ManageEngine NetFlow Analyzer This network traffic monitor identifies botnet attacks and zombie infections that turn your equipment on other networks. Available for Windows Server and Linux.
- Cloudflare Bot Manager A threat intelligence service that reaps botnet identification from more than 25 million sites managed by Cloudflare. This enables you to sort out bots used for different purposes. This is a cloud-based service.
- Radware Bot Manager This service offers protection for Web applications, mobile devices, and APIs through a plug-in that assesses connection requests and signals whether they should be rejected. This is a cloud platform.
- ClickCease This cloud-based service is powerful at rooting out click fraud, and the company also helps you with a range of other Google Ads-related services.
- DataDome This service doesn’t operate as a proxy. Still, it provides a SaaS AI process that generates a fast approval for all requests arriving at your Web server, preventing OWASP-listed attacks.
- Reblaze Bot Management Part of a cloud-based security platform, this service filters out bot actions before they reach your Web server.
Botnet detection software
You want to stop them from overloading your resources rather than just spotting botnets. There are several ways this can be done. Probably the most effective tactic is to get a vast capacity server to take the hit and just pass on the actual traffic to your Web server. There are other methods available, such as blacklists, honeypots, and black holes.
As there are several angles you can use to detect and block botnet activities, we have identified various solutions that include onsite options and edge services.
The best botnet detection software
Botnet detection requires network traffic analysis for incoming connection requests to Web servers and load balancers.
What should you look for in a botnet detection system?
We reviewed the market for botnet detection software and analyzed the options based on the following criteria:
- A system that can catch DDoS attacks before they block access to a Web server
- A software package that offers security services in addition to botnet detection
- A service that can take remediation action to reduce the effects of a botnet attack
- Threat intelligence that includes an IP address blacklist
- Quick detection and response
- A free trial or a money-back guarantee for a no-risk assessment period
- A good deal that provides valuable services for a reasonable price
As well as working to our selection criteria, we looked for a range of solutions that offer options for hosted and on-premises packages and include subscription services and software packages that can be bought outright.
SolarWinds Security Event Manager is a protection system for networks. The service operates on your site as a virtual appliance, installed on top of either VMWare or Hyper-V. This isolates the system from any potential threats circulating on the network, making it hard to tamper with.
- Detects all threats to networks and endpoints
- Operates as a SIEM
- Searches through log files
- Gathers network activity data
- On-premises package for Windows Server
The botnet detection systems and defense strategies in the Security Event Manager are focused on protecting the network – as it operates within the network, it cannot intercept traffic before it arrives on site. However, it able to block traffic as soon as it arrives.
SolarWinds supplies all installations of the Security Event Manager with a feed of community-sourced IP addresses found to be the sources of malicious activity. This blacklist saves time examining packet contents – if the address is on the list, that packet just isn’t getting in.
The Security Event Manager updates firewall tables with its blacklist, putting botnet blockers right on the network’s boundary. Any action the firewall takes to block traffic gets logged, and those logs are all picked up by the Security Event Manager. The security system is a SIEM. It collects and consolidates log messages. The threat hunter then scours through log messages, which will spot the block on a request. This then gets reported in the dashboard. The notification from the firewall gets passed through to a log file and stored.
The logs that the Security Event Manager saves are all preserved and made available for standards compliance auditing. This log management function makes the Security Event Manager a good choice for businesses that need to follow PCI DSS, GLBA, SOX, NERC CIP, HIPAA. The log manager includes a file integrity monitor that protects log files from tampering.
- Offers robust traffic policies that allow for traffic mitigation when a botnet attack is detected
- Can automatically block attacks once detected based on IP address and traffic type.
- Built with the enterprise in mind, can monitor Windows, Linux, Unix, and Mac operating systems
- Over 700 pre-configured alerts, correlation rules, and detection templates provide instant insights upon install
- Threat response rules are easy to build and use intelligent reporting to reduce false positives
- Feature dense – requires time to fully explore all features
SolarWinds offers the Security Event Manager for a 30-day free trial.
SolarWinds Security Event Manager is our top pick for botnet detection software because it combines DDoS blocking capabilities with log management and intrusion detection. This service is primarily a SIEM service and constantly collects all log messages, scanning them for signs of malicious activity. This service gives your system protection from a range of threats while also providing standards compliance.
Get a 30-day free trial: solarwinds.com/security-event-manager/registration
Operating system: Virtual appliance
ManageEngine NetFlow Analyzer is a network traffic monitor, and it includes a utility called the Advanced Security Analytics Module. This service is an intrusion detection system, and it also spots DDoS attacks and other types of botnet traffic.
- Identifies traffic anomalies
- Analyzers traffic by protocol
- Intrusion detection system
- Runs on Windows and Linux
As with the SolarWinds option, this is a network resident solution. It can communicate with firewalls to push its detection capabilities right to the edge of the network. However, it is primarily a network defense system.
The dashboard for the NetFlow Analyzer includes attractive dials and graphs that show live traffic patterns. The system offers an overview of network activity, and it also provides traffic shaping measures. These allow you to throttle certain types of traffic and prioritize or block specific applications. This tool could be used to shut down a botnet attack by closing off all services to connection requests temporarily. However, a more targeted approach would be to update the firewall table to block the IP addresses of the source of suspicious activity.
The ManageEngine NetFlow Analyzer allows you the flexibility to choose a strategy to deal with botnet activity. The dashboard of the service is customizable as well. This tool would save you money on your botnet detection strategy because it can help you with general network traffic management and squeeze value out of your existing network infrastructure.
- Can detect and block botnets and dynamically defend against DDoS attacks
- Intuitive dashboards make it easy for sysadmins to monitor incoming traffic
- Easy to use interface automatically highlights bandwidth hogs and other network traffic outliers
- Scale well, designed for large enterprise networks
- Can view traffic on a per-hop basis, allowing for granular traffic analysis
- Built for enterprise use, not designed for small home networks
NetFlow Analyzer is available in three editions: Free, Professional, and Enterprise. The Free edition is limited to monitoring only two devices. The Professional edition is limited to monitoring a single network, and the enterprise edition can monitor multiple sites. The Enterprise edition also adds NBAR and CBQoS management capabilities. The Advanced Security Analytics Module is only available in the Enterprise edition. You can get a 30-day free trial of the Enterprise plan. It is offered in versions for Windows Server and Linux.
Cloudflare is one of the world’s leading DDoS protection services. The system’s DDoS service detects botnet traffic to filter out fake connection requests and pass on good traffic. The Cloudflare system is an edge service. It acts as a proxy, acquiring the publicly known IP address of the protected network and allocating a secret address to that system. The Cloudflare service assumes the client’s identity, receives all of its traffic, and passes legitimate traffic to its final destination over a VPN.
- Partners with a content delivery network
- Absorbs traffic
- Includes SSL certificate
The Bot Manager offered by Cloudflare is a more sophisticated botnet detection system for those who want a broader botnet control service. DDoS is just one of the tricks that botnets can perform, and the Bot Manager covers every inconvenience and vicious action they can be used for. This list of services includes detection and blocking bots used for account takeover and credential stuffing. It also identifies bots that hijack email accounts to spread spam.
The system protects your content by identifying and stopping bots engaged in scraping. The bot detector can also spot fake credit card transaction attempts to damage your ability to process credit cards by repeatedly canceling charges. It also detects inventory hoarding, making stock unavailable for sale by loading carts and never checking out.
Cloudflare is a reliable and reputable company, and its rapid growth has been achieved through competently providing essential services for Web traffic problems. Cloudflare bundles all of its services into plans. There are four editions, and all of them include some degree of botnet detection. However, the full Bot manager is only included in the top plan, which is called Enterprise. The lowest plan is Free, and that includes DDoS protection – as do all editions.
- Specifically designed to prevent and mitigate botnet attacks
- Leverages Cloudflare’s global network for threat intelligence and traffic migration
- Prevents data scraping, automated inventory buyers, and credential stuffing attacks
- Better suited for smaller networks
Radware Bot Manager is offered as an API or plug-in with a range of integration options. The add-on can be integrated into your cloud server service, into a CDN, or into your Web server. The system is also available as a virtual appliance, which you can put on your gateway to pre-filter traffic.
- Integrates into a WAF or CDN
- Fightback option
- Fraud protection
Used on your premises, the Radware system won’t be able to offload DDoS attacks. However, Radware also offers a WAF, an edge service, to filter traffic before getting to your network and Web servers. Radware Bot Manager can be taken as an add-on option with the WAF.
The system sorts through incoming traffic and creates a profile for each IP address to track users and spot bots. Remember, botnets aren’t only used for DDoS attacks. After a quick reference to the Radware server, the API returns an allow/reject message to the server.
By tracking activities on your website, the Radware system identifies bots and gives you a range of automated actions, which your select when setting up an account. The service can feed fake data to a bot, duping the end-user of the data that the bot collects. It can also challenge incoming users with potential bot profiles with a reCAPTCHA or block access to users that have been definitively identified as fake.
- Simple and intuitive admin dashboard
- Can act as a WAF to filter traffic on a more granular level
- Allows sysadmins to configure automated actions when a botnet is detected.
- Has limited DDoS mitigation features
- Would like to see a longer trial
You can get a 15-day free trial of Radware Bot Manager.
ClickCease detects bots that are used for excessive, unattended ad clicks, which is called click fraud. Bots can click on pay-per-click ads, thus jacking up the bill for the advertiser. This technique can be used by the advertising agency or by rivals who hope to exhaust the target’s advertising credits before any real people see the ad. This system is mainly geared towards click fraud used on Google Ads.
- Cloud-based service
- Blocks click fraud
- Identifies competitor actions
Several other types of people want to waste your ad budget, such as woke canceling activists and industrial-scale click farms. Whoever wants to drain your account can do it at a rate through bots.
The ClickCease service includes other utilities, such as how to get around the Google Ads exclusion list limit of 500 IP addresses.
- Built specifically for click fraud detection and prevention
- Automatically block offending IP addresses
- Does not offer DDoS or network protection
- Would like to see a longer trial
ClickCease is available in two plans, Standard for a single domain and Pro for unlimited domains. You can assess the service on a 7-day free trial.
DataDome supplements its botnet detection strategy with scans for the OWASP top ten threats. This system is a list of the most significant current vulnerabilities that an IT can have. So this is a vulnerability scanner as well as a botnet blocker.
- Cloud-based plug-in
- Scans for card and payment fraud
- Spots scalping and inventory hoarding
The bot activity that the DataDome system detects includes DDoS attacks, scaping, account takeover, and click fraud. DataDome also operates a threat intelligence feed that pools the attack experience of all of its customers.
This SaaS solution integrates into your sites, mobile apps, and services with a plugin. The collected data from those agents is available for threat analysis in the cloud-based console.
- Scans for threats based on OWASP threats – updated regularly
- Can detect and defend against scraping, DDoS, ATO, and click fraud
- Easily manageable from an intuitive web interface
- Not designed for small businesses
The DataDome service is a subscription system, and it is expensive. There are three editions, and the cheapest, called Starter, is priced at $1,590 per month. This price comes down to $1,190 per month if you pay for a year’s service upfront. The two higher plans are Business and Corporate. That top plan covers mobile apps and APIs and websites – the two lower plans only monitor websites. The Corporate plan is charged at $7,790 per month or $5,990 per month if paid annually.
Reblaze Bot Management operates as a proxy server. It receives your web traffic and filters it, passing on only legitimate users. The processing of each connection request takes only 0.5 milliseconds.
- Partners with a WAF and CDN service
- Very fast
The full service of Reblaze includes a web application firewall and a content delivery network. This is a package of edge services that keeps your website running and servicing customers. The botnet detection system passes through several phases very quickly.
The system uses a profiling strategy to spot the same automated bot system, whether it switches IP address or flows through many different zombie devices. The Reblaze technique looks for a list of indicators of suspicious identity to quickly home in on candidate bots. This is the key to the speed of Reblaze.
- Acts as a proxy, filtering traffic before it touches your infrastructure
- Is a combination WAF and CDN – great for DDoS mitigation
- Leverages behavioral profiling to block sophisticated botnets
- Available only as a cloud tool
The Reblaze platform is delivered from the cloud. Its console includes activity reports and provides historical analysis support. You can try the Reblaze system on a 30-day free trial.