Millions of networks around the world are under constant threat from myriad types of attacks that originate from just as many sources and geographical locations. As a matter of fact, right at this moment, there are hundreds of attacks occurring every single second.
Effectively defending against such a barrage would require proactive analysis of past attacks as well as forecasting future threats. Only a proactive approach, using the information that the network already has stored, will help administrators keep the attackers at bay.
An effective defense tactic would have a system in place that monitors your system and lets you know when something goes wrong, preferably before too much damage was caused.
Although they say prevention is better than cure; the anticipation of an attack is probably the best defense strategy.
Here is our list of the six best malware detection tools and analysis software:
- CrowdStrike Falcon EDITOR’S CHOICE An endpoint protection platform that uses AI processes to detect malware activity. This innovative cybersecurity tool combines the use of onsite data collection agents with a cloud-based analysis engine. Start a 15-day free trial.
- SolarWinds Security Event Manager (FREE TRIAL) The best defense for businesses looking for a robust system that can handle a large number of devices and the log data that comes from them.
- LogRhythm NextGen SIEM Platform Complete defense system that takes care of threats from start to finish in a single, unified architecture.
- Splunk Enterprise Security SIEM tool that keeps up with the sophistication of the complex threats of today and has advanced security monitoring and threat detection capabilities.
- McAfee Enterprise Security Manager This intelligent SIEM combines advanced analytics with rich context to help detect and prioritize threats while superb, dynamic data views help with keeping track of behaviors and configurations.
- Micro Focus ArcSight ESM Real-time correlation of log data, at the rate of 100,000 events per second makes this the fastest SIEM solution available for enterprises.
What malware tool options are available?
There are many ways network administrators can address these malware issues, some of which include:
- Installing antiviruses and antimalware solutions to fight the threats head-on
- Creating technology awareness among network users to prevent data leaks and theft – whether intentional or not
- Implementing and enforcing policies, ensuring the physical safety of hardware devices
- Regularly updating and patching the operating system and application software
But, once you have taken all of these protective measures, it still won’t mean that your job is done. You need to keep monitoring your network as well as the defense strategy that is protecting it. You will need to keep an eye out for signs of external threats, and loopholes that might open up. In case of an imminent threat, you need to come up with an effective defense strategy to implement based on real-time analysis of behavioral data gleaned from your network.
What is an SEM tool?
To understand the tool, we need to make sure we understand what security event management is, to begin with.
Security event management is the computer and network security field that handles the process of gathering, monitoring, and reporting on security events in software, system or networks.
Thus, an SEM tool is an application that monitors system event data (usually stored in event logs), extracts information from it, correlates or translates it into actionable advice, and presents it to whomever it may concern. It does so in a preferred notification or alert delivery method, and with the intention of taking further action to remedy the suspicious or malicious issues reported.
SIM vs. SEM vs. SIEM
At this point we thought it would make sense to shed light on these three closely related terms:
- SIM (security information management): is an application that automates the collection of event log data from various security and administration devices found on a network. It is a security product that is mainly used for long-term storage of the data that can then be used for ad-hoc reporting.
- SEM (security event management): when it comes to these security systems, everything is in real-time as it monitors events, standardizes data inputs, updates dashboards, and sends out alerts or notifications.
- SIEM (security information and event management): these security systems provide the services of both SIMs and SEMs – they do everything from collecting the data to forensic analysis and reporting on it.
It should be noted that SEM and SEIM are used interchangeably and can both come in the form of software solutions, hardware devices or SaaS services.
Advantages of using an SEM tool for malware detection and analysis
One key advantage of using an SEM tool is that it is an optimal solution to the “expenses vs. expertise” conundrum. Here’s the explanation:
Small businesses can’t afford to spend a lot on their IT infrastructure, let alone have a team of competitive tech gurus on their payroll. And yet, 43% of SMBs [PDF] are targeted when it comes to hacking and data breaches.
This all means that an SEM becomes the optimal solution because it provides the services of a team of network security experts at a fraction of the price it would take to have them on board full time. Because, once it is configured correctly, it becomes a round-the-clock defense system scrutinizing every registered trigger-event and waiting to employ the appropriate alert or response.
Armed with an SEM tool, you will be able to take care of:
- Security – tracking and handling malware
- Compliance – auditing and reporting become a breeze
- Troubleshooting – testing and prodding network and devices are easier with logs
- Forensic analysis – logged data can give crucial evidence and insights into what happened
- Logs management – retrieving and storing log data is automatic
Features that make for a good Security Event Manager tool
When looking for a decent SEM tool, there are features that you might want to make sure are included with your choice:
- Event logging – …obviously!
- Intelligence – it should be smart enough to interpret logged events. It should be able to, at the very least, detect basic suspicious activities right out of the box, with default use case templates and configurations.
- Flexibility – the capability for both structured and unstructured search through logs and data.
- Responsiveness – be able to give the right type of alerts, at the right time, due to the right reasons or suspicions, and to the right user or administrator.
- Limitless boundaries – an elastic ability to address all user requests by leveraging any, and all of the available data for clear, concise, accurate, and comprehensible reports.
- Compatibility – ability to integrate with as many hardware and software solutions for easy, seamless integration into a wide range of a network.
- Cloud capabilities – this is the age of cloud computing and the technology continues to be adopted widely; this makes it critical that your new SEM solution is compatible as well.
With that out of the way, let’s move on to the five best malware detection and analysis tools for your network.
The best malware detection tools
CrowdStrike Falcon is an endpoint protection platform (EPP). It doesn’t operate on network event data, but collects event information on individual endpoints and then transmits that over the network to an analysis engine. As such, this is a SIEM tool. The activity monitor is an agent, resident on each protected endpoint. The analysis engine resides in the Cloud on the CrowdStrike server. So, this is a hybrid on-site/cloud solution.
- Protects endpoints
- Shares endpoint event data
- Creates a response platform
- Cloud-based coordination
- Anomaly detection
The EPP is composed of modules and marketed in editions. Each edition involves a different list of modules, but all of them include the Falcon Protect system. Falcon Protect is a next-generation AV that monitors processes on an endpoint rather than using the traditional AV method of scanning for known malicious program files.
The agent on the endpoint composes event logs from process activities and then transmits those records to the CrowdStrike server for analysis. A traditional SEM works on live data. However, Falcon Protect just uses a logging process to collate and transmit events to the analysis engine, so it is near-live. It still qualifies as a SEM because it is able to report on malicious activity immediately and it doesn’t search through existing historical event records for its source material.
An advantage of the split data gathering and analysis processes of Falcon Prevent is that the event data is stored for secondary analysis. Operating on live data sometimes misses suspicious activity that is implemented through the manipulation of authorized processes. Some malicious activity can only be spotted over time by linking together seemingly innocent actions that can amount to a data theft attempt or a sabotage event.
- Doesn’t rely on only log files to threat detection, uses process scanning to find threats right away
- Acts as a HIDS and endpoint protection tool all in one
- Can track and alert anomalous behavior over time, improves the longer it monitors the network
- Can install either on-premise or directly into a cloud-based architecture
- Lightweight agents won’t slow down servers or end-user devices
- Would benefit from a longer trial period
CrowdStrike’s bundles include threat prevention, threat analysis, and device control modules. The base package is called Falcon Pro and the higher plans are Falcon Enterprise and Falcon Premium. CrowdStrike also offers a managed cybersecurity service, called Falcon Complete. CrowdStrike offers a 15-day free trial of Falcon Pro.
CrowdStrike Falcon is our top choice for malware detection and analysis because it adds innovation to the traditional antivirus model of maintaining a virus signature database. The CrowdStrike Falcon system includes AI methods to detect new viruses and automatically implements blocking procedures. Each new discovery is shared among all of the service’s user community, rapidly rolling out virus defenses around the world.
Start 15-day Free Trial: crowdstrike.com/endpoint-security-products/falcon-prevent-endpoint-antivirus/
OS: Windows, Linux, macOS
SolarWinds Security Event Manager (SEM) is one of the leaders in intrusion detection and threat removal technology solutions. It was formerly known as its Log & Event Manager (LEM).
- On-premises package
- Collects and consolidated logs
- Centralized threat hunting
- Orchestration for responses
To be honest, it is a tool that has everything required to keep a network safe. It is an SEM that helps network administration and security personnel better detect, respond to, and report on the detection of malware or suspicious activities and many people agree with us.
Other features to take note of:
- The price won’t break the bank – SolarWinds proves quality doesn’t have to come with a high price tag.
- SolarWinds Security Event Manager has a UI that is easy to learn, navigate, and master.
- The SEM File Integrity Monitor (FIM) keeps an eye on Windows files, folders, critical system files, and registry keys to make sure they aren’t tampered with.
- SEM can also be used to monitor Active Directory events including creation or deletion of user accounts and groups, or any other suspicious activities like login
- One of the best threat detection and automated reporting capabilities make it a joy to work with this SEM.
- SolarWinds Security Event Manager is famous for being a robust system that can handle huge amounts of logged data sourced from a large number of nodes.
- Finally, Security Event Manager also helps predetermine any weak points that could be exploited or used against a network and then automates the remedy so they are patched as soon as possible.
- Built with enterprise in mind, can monitor Windows, Linux, Unix, and Mac operating systems
- Supports tools such as Snort, allowing SEM to be part of a larger NIDS strategy
- 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
- Built-in reporting and dashboard features help reduce the number of ancillary tools you need for your IDS
- Feature dense – requires time to fully explore all features
A point that would make anyone partial to SolarWinds SEM is the fact that the company doesn’t just show you the door once you have made a purchase. On the contrary, their Support Services have won awards and continue to help their clients accelerate business outcomes. You can download the SolarWinds Security Event Manager on a 30-day free trial.
LogRhythm NextGen brings log management, security analytics, and endpoint monitoring together which makes it a powerful tool to identify threats and thwart breaches.
- Cloud-based service
- User and entity behavior analytics
- Zero-day detection
LogRhythm SIEM has a unique feature that makes it stand out from the crowd: its Threat Lifecycle Management process. In order to make it efficient in detecting and stopping threats, this company has come up with a unique approach to tackling the task with end-to-end threat processing capabilities.
In other words, with this SIEM solution, all threats are managed in one place – from detection right through to responding and recovering from it.
Also, LogRhythm uses data analysis to spot threats before they can cause any major damage, if at all. The SIEM presents admins with detailed activities of all connected devices so they can then forecast future threat occurrences – based on previous experiences. Once they spot such suspicious behaviors they can shut them down before they happen, or as soon as they have been detected.
Other features of LogRhythm:
- LogRhythm Enterprise [PDF] is for larger networking environments and comes with an arsenal of tools.
- Meanwhile, LogRhythm XM [PDF] is for SMBs with a smaller reach and lower processing power.
- The company also offers a hardware option as well as LogRhythm Cloud – a cloud solution for clients who prefer not to be bothered with overhead or hardware maintenance.
All this comes with a SIEM solution that has, quite unsurprisingly, been named Best Security Information and Event Management Software of 2019 by Gartner.
- Uses simple wizards to setup log collection and other security tasks, making it a more beginner-friendly tool
- Sleek interface, highly customizable, and visually appealing
- Leverages artificial intelligence and machine learning for behavior analysis
- Would like to see a trial option
- Cross-platform support would be a welcomed feature
This is also another top-reviewed SIEM solution. A free version lets users see exactly how great a solution it is. Although you can only index 500 MBs per day, it serves enough to show why Splunk ES has earned praises.
- Successful analytical tool
- SIEM add-on
- Good for hybrid environments
Looking at a few more details, we have:
- The use case library in Splunk Enterprise Security strengthens a business’ security presence; with over 50 cases available, there is no shortage of plans and templates that can be used straight out of the box and are categorized into Abuse, Adversary Tactics, Best Practices, Cloud Security, Malware, and Vulnerability.
- Meanwhile, security events can be grouped by separate segments, host types, sources, assets, and geographical locations.
- Splunk ES has the capacity to analyze almost all formats of data from numerous sources – logs, databases, views, and more – and then bring them together via normalization.
- This SIEM tool has direct mapping to malware knowledgebase websites like Mitre Att&ck and applies strategies like cyber kill chain, CIS 20 Controls, and NIST Cyber-security framework; Splunk ES is, therefore, able to stay up-to-date and ahead of even the latest attack methods.
- Capable of working with a wide range of machine data whether it be from local sources or the cloud.
- A rather unique feature that makes Splunk awesome is its ability to send alerts and notifications using webhooks for third-party apps like Slack (in multiple channels, no less).
- Splunk Enterprise Security, too, is another SIEM solution that has been given great reviews on Gartner.
To be honest, the only complaint that can be made against this SIEM is its price tag – the licensing could be out of the reach of many SMBs.
- Can utilize behavior analysis to detect threats that aren’t discovered through logs
- Excellent user interface – highly visual with easy customization options
- Easy prioritization of events
- Enterprise focused
- Available for Linux and Windows
- Pricing is not transparent, requires a quote from the vendor
- More suited for large enterprises
- Uses Search Processing Language (SPL) for queries, steepening the learning curve
McAfee Enterprise Security Manager (SEM) comes from a digital brand that is well-established in the antivirus and anti-malware realm and has been in the forefront for years. For any skeptics out there, there is one fact that they need to consider: McAfee’s own vast array of tools alone can serve as sources of data, thus alleviating integration issues and problems with normalization of data from systems, networks, databases, and applications.
- Gathers event data from McAfee Endpoint Protection
- Service desk integration
Apart from its own tools and products, McAfee also enables the normalization of data from products made by its numerous partnering companies.
More great features that come with McAfee ESM include:
- Out-of-the-box set of dashboard, rules, correlation, and report packages that help in automated monitoring compliance.
- Real-time visibility, log extraction, analysis, and storage of data from a wide array of sources.
- Easy integration into almost any complex network and system configuration.
- Creation of detailed sit-reps by combining the collected data with contextual information about users, assets, vulnerabilities, and of course threats.
- High system integration when it comes to other supporting IT systems like ticket creation and management systems which will most certainly require McAfee’s SIEM input to help with troubleshooting and resolution of issues.
- Forecasting of potential threats by correlating the gathered information and also prioritizing their urgency.
Again, the greatest advantage this SIEM has over other similar solutions is that McAfee itself has its own array of suites that can act as sources of log data – more than 430 of them, to be a bit more precise. This familiarity cuts downtime spent on normalization, thus reducing reaction times; something that is appreciated in larger networks.
- Uses a powerful correlation engine to help find and eliminate threats faster
- Integrates well into Active Directory environments
- Built with large networks in mind
- Cluttered and often overwhelming
- Must contact sales for a quote
- Could use more integration options
- Is fairly resource-intensive
Micro Focus ArcSight ESM is an enterprise security manager that has been around for almost two decades. Over those years it has continued to grow and evolve into the truly amazing network malware analysis and detection tool it is today.
- Well tested through longtime use
- Fast processing
- Good for MSSPs
This tool can lay claim to being one of the best SIEM tools out there with its ability to meet any scalability requirements as it can now analyze 100,000 events per second!
Do you have a new vendor joining your network? No problem; this SIEM’s structured data can be easily consumed by third-party apps. Also, their acquisition of Interset – a security analytics software company earlier this year means they aim to better improve the behavioral analytics and machine learning capabilities of ArcSight.
Loaded with these features, it becomes quite clear that ArcSight is the ideal SIEM tool for larger and complex system-on-chip (SOC) environments and managed security services providers (MSSPs). It is also a truly infrastructure-independent SIEM tool whose services can be delivered via software, hardware, as well as cloud services like Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure.
Meanwhile, distributed correlation allows scalability and, thus, ArcSight’s SIEMs can grow as fast, and as big, as they may be required to be and cuts the times between mean time to detect (MTTD) and mean time to respond (MTTR).
Finally, the whole suite has new UI options galore which means ArcSight now comes with fresh charts, dashboards, consoles, etc., that make it easy as well as a pleasure to fight malware with. Also, large numbers of use-case solutions and packages help build a solid defense that can then be shared (using rule sets and logic) among clients or businesses facing similar issues.
All in all, this is a great SEM tool!
- Built to scale, can process 100k events per second
- Ideal for MSPs and multi-tenant resale
- Search and filtering works well, allowing you to sort by applications, client, or traffic source
- Would like it to be easier to customize the look and feel of the main dashboard
Deciding on a malware detection and analysis tool
Our choices (yes, there’s two, we couldn’t choose between them) for the best malware detection and malware analysis tools for your network would have to be SolarWinds SEM for the superior, yet affordable SEM tool as well as LogRhythm NextGen SIEM Platform for a full defense system that has unique defense strategies.
Let us know what you think or share your personal experiences with us. Leave a comment down below.
Malware Detection Tool FAQs
What are the different types of malware?
There are 10 types of malware:
- Virus – Malicious executable programs.
- Trojan – A virus that is disguised as a desirable file but lets other malware in.
- Remote access Trojan (RAT) – A program that lets hackers in, possibly getting control of the Desktop or webcam.
- Worm – Malware that can replicate itself across a network.
- Rootkit – Malware that gets down into the operating system, making it difficult to detect or remove.
- Fileless Malware – Malware that loads directly into memory often from an infected Web page.
- Spyware – Logs user activity.
- Keylogger – Secretly records user keystrokes.
- Adware – Injects advertisements into software and web pages.
- Bot – Performs action against other computers without the owner’s knowledge.
What is malware static analysis?
The static analysis of malware involves scanning malicious code and assessing its characteristics without executing it.
What is dynamic malware analysis?
Dynamic malware analysis is an assessment method that requires malware to be run so that its actions can be recorded. This type of analysis should be performed in an isolated environment, called a sandbox, to prevent the test from causing actual damage to the host system.
In what order should you perform malware analysis techniques?
Follow these steps to perform a full malware analysis:
- Identify all of the files that contribute to a malware system.
- Perform static analysis, examining identifiers, such as metadata and possible traces of how this software appeared on your system. Carry out research on the data you record.
- Perform advanced static analysis, reading through the code, and mapping how the different modules of the suite work together and what system resources or resident software it exploits.
- Perform dynamic analysis, running the code in a sandbox environment, which you thoroughly isolated from the rest of your business. Log the changes that the malware made to the system in order to work out its purpose.