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Snort vs Suricata

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Snort vs Suricata Feature Comparison

Snort has been the de facto IDS engine for years; it has an enormous community of users, and an even larger span of subscribers to Snort rules that are ever-augmenting. Though its lifespan is not as lengthy when compared to Snort, Suricata has been making ground for itself as the modern answer or alternative to Snort, particularly with its multi-threading capabilities. Both engines have proven records of success and are widely popular. Below are some of the most searched and requested features and details of an IDS, and how each engine satisfies them.

Parameter Snort Suricata
Developer Sourcefire, Inc. Open Information Security Foundation (OISF)
Availability Since 1998 Since 2009
Coded Language C C
Operating System Cross-platform Cross-platform
Stable Release 2.9.5.5 (16 September 2013) 1.4.5 (26 July 2013)
Threads Single-threaded Multi-threaded
IPv6 Support Yes Yes
Snort (VRT) Rules Support Yes Yes
Emerging Threats Rules Support Yes Yes
Logging Format Unified2 Unified2
Aanval Compatible Yes Yes

Suricata vs Snort Overview. Need an IDS? Give Both Suricata and Snort a Try. Here’s Why.

Why run Snort over Suricata or vice-versa? New trend is both systems in the same environment and event correlation done with Aanval SAS

There are several intrusion detection system engines available to automate and simplify the process of intrusion detection, and Snort is one of the best options. Snort has become the single most widely deployed and trusted intrusion prevention and detection technology in the world. SC Magazine stated that the success of Snort IDS is due to the fact that users in the open source security community worldwide can detect and respond to bugs, worms, malware attacks, and other security threats faster and more efficiently than other IDS engines. Furthermore, there are a wide variety of reference guides available for installing, configuring, deploying, and managing Snort IDS sensors and rule-based signatures on a network.


To summarize, Snort, an IDS engine, delivers many benefits:

  1. Scalability: Snort can be successfully deployed on any network environment.

  2. Flexibility and Usability: Snort can run on various operating systems including Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X.

  3. Live and Real-Time: Snort can deliver real-time network traffic event information.

  4. Flexibility in Deployment: There are thousands of ways that Snort can be deployed and a myriad of databases, logging systems, and tools with which it can work.

  5. Speed in Detecting and Responding to Security Threats: Used in conjunction with a firewall and other layers of security infrastructure, Snort helps organizations detect and respond to system crackers, worms, network vulnerabilities, security threats, and policy abusers that aim to take down network and computer systems.

  6. Modular Detection Engine: Snort sensors are modular and can monitor multiple machines from one physical and logical location. Snort be placed in front of the firewall, behind the firewall, next to the firewall, and everywhere else to monitor an entire network. As a result, organizations use Snort as a security solution to find out if there are unauthorized attempts to hack in the network or if a hacker has gained unauthorized access into the network system.

Why is Snort so Successful at Monitoring Network Systems?


Snort uses a rule-driven language that combines the benefits of signature, protocol, and anomaly-based inspection methods. With its dramatic speed, power, and performance, Snort quickly gained momentum. With nearly 4 million downloads to date, Snort has become the single most widely deployed intrusion detection and prevention technology in the world. Snort uses a flexible rule-based language to describe traffic that it should collect or pass. Snort’s job is to listen to TCP/IP network traffic and look for signatures in the data flow that might indicate a security threat to an organization’s network and computer systems. Rules are configured to take action. That action varies between passive responses (just logging it or sending an email) to active responses (doing something to stop the malicious activity from happening). Organizations can take advantage of applying new or existing rule-sets provided by the Snort community as well as writing and modifying their own rules according to the requirements of the network. Complex rules can be written to identify just about any type of traffic going across the network and perform some action. Snort rules are continually being reviewed, modified, and improved to detect new and evolving security threats by the support of the Snort community.


Suricata IDS Engine Delivers Many Benefits in Combatting Today’s Security Threats

Suricata is an open source-based intrusion detection system and is the result of more than four years of development led by the Open Information Security Foundation (OISF) and a number of developers organized to help build the next generation open-source IDS engine. The goal of OISF is to bring in new security ideas and technology innovations to the intrusion detection industry. The non-profit organization accepts contributions from both government and private sector, and initial funding comes from government sources as the firm’s main mission is to protect government records from foreign and domestic adversaries. With financial help from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, a multi-threaded alternative to Snort was created to help secure networks against advanced security intrusions. Suricata’s multi-threaded architecture is unique as it can support high performance multi-core and multi-processor systems. The major benefits of a multi-threaded design is that it offers increased speed and efficiency in network traffic analysis and can also help divide up the IDS/IPS workload based on where the processing needs are. In addition to hardware acceleration (with hardware and network card limitations), the engine is built to utilize the increased processing power offered by the latest multi-core CPU chip sets.



Suricata overall has been developed for ease of implementation, accompanied by a step-by-step getting started documentation and user manual. The engine is also written in C and designed to scale. Although Suricata is still a new and less widespread product compared to Snort, the technology is gaining momentum among all enterprises and IT users. Increased performance, native IPv6 support, multiple model statistical anomaly detection, GPU acceleration, IP reputation, scoring thresholds, very high speed regex, and scalability are some of the major selling points for Suricata.


To summarize, Suricata, an IDS engine, delivers many benefits in combatting today’s security threats:

  1. An Open Source Engine: The power of the community works well within IT security defenses, as a community is more effective than a single organization at capturing characteristics of emerging threats.

  2. Multi-threaded: A multi-threaded architecture allows the engine to take advantage of the multiple core and multiprocessor architectures of today’s systems.

  3. Supports IP Reputation: By incorporating reputation and signatures into its engine, Suricata can flag traffic from known bad sources.

  4. Automated Protocol Detection: Preprocessors automatically identify the protocol used in a network stream and apply the appropriate rules, regardless of numerical port. The automated protocol detection also prevents user mistakes and errors which are actually more common.

Why is Suricata so Successful in Monitoring Sophisticated Types of Attacks?

Suricata is also a rule-based ID/PS engine that utilizes externally developed rule sets to monitor network traffic and provide alerts to the system administrator when suspicious events occur. Suricata also uses a “sniffer” engine to analyze traffic entering and leaving a network system. However, the multi-threading capabilities allow the sniffer to match more traffic rules quickly and apply more computing horsepower to the security process.



Designed to be compatible with existing network security components, Suricata features Unified2 output functionality and pluggable library options to accept calls from other applications. In addition, Suricata is also designed to work with the Snort rulesets. Furthermore, Suricata also integrates revolutionary techniques. The engine embeds a HTTP normalizer and parser (HTP library) that provides very advanced processing of HTTP streams, enabling the understanding of traffic on the 7th level of the OSI model.


Learn More About Suricata

We invite you to watch a recorded webcast that Introduces Suricata Open-Source IDS Engine, Emerging Threats ETPro™ Ruleset, and Aanval SAS (Situational Awareness System). Tactical FLEX, Inc. and Matt Jonkman, CTO of Emerging Threats and President of the Open Information Security Foundation delivered an educational webinar on how to improve threat management performance and situational awareness. Watch on Aanval TV: [1]

Community Support from Tactical FLEX, Inc.

We support over 6,000 customers in more than 100 countries by delivering real-time, continuous network monitoring and by providing a wide range of product manuals, information security articles, and up-to-date how-to guides. Built with a unique Situational Awareness engine, users rely on Aanval because it provides a proactive tool to combat cyber threats and safeguard their virtual and physical assets.

Aanval continues to support both the information security and open source Snort and Suricata communities by providing users with a free non-commercial version of Aanval® that allows full functionality of a single-sensor device. Aanval is designed to work with all versions of Snort and Suricata, and can process syslog data from any device capable of external logging (file or UDP 514).

Aanval is available for download as a free Community edition, in addition to an unlimited sensor-capacity, commercially purchased and supported Snort, Suricata, and syslog license. Downloading and installing Aanval is free and takes only minutes to accomplish. Designed to work with all current Linux, Unix, and Mac OS X flavors of operating systems, you can be up, running, and viewing events within minutes. Let Aanval turn your data into actionable and comprehensive insights to reduce security risks. Free download here: Aanval Community Edition

Aanval® is the industry's most comprehensive Snort and Syslog Intrusion Detection, Correlation, and Threat Management console on the market. Learn more at http://www.aanval.com.

We invite you to also visit the Tactical FLEX, Inc. Library where you'll find a wealth of industry-focused articles discussing current security studies and their findings, features and definitions, trends, threats, and tools.

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