Intelligent Threat Detection: AWS GuardDuty vs Sophos Cloud Optix

October 7, 2020

AWS Guardduty vs alternatives – Intelligent threat detection as part of a cyber security framework is becoming an important component as enterprises migrate to the cloud. Sophos Cloud Optix and AWS Guard Duty offer two different approaches to proactive Cloud Thread Detection. In this article, we will be breaking down the individual features of Amazon GuardDuty and Sophos Cloud Optix to provide a comprehensive comparison between these two services including pricing details of each. By the end of this article, you will gain suitable insights into each of these thread detection products, the pros and cons of choosing one over the other and an approach to setup intelligent threat detection within your growing hybrid and multi cloud environments . 

This article assumes some basic understanding of Cloud. If you’re considering cloud migration, a quick read on Cloud Optimization Techniques is recommended.

Amazon GuardDuty

Amazon GuardDuty is a service provided by AWS to detect any malicious activities across your network. Security is a key issue which can not be compromised at any cost. Therefore, it uses Machine Learning and Anomaly Detection to keep track of potential threats. 


  • Continuous Monitoring & Account-level threat detection

Unless you’re planning to manage your resources manually, it is recommended to use a service equipped with continuous monitoring. It automates the procedure by restricting any unauthorized access from atypical geo-locations. For instance, it would block any attempts of taking a snippet of your database when accessed from a malicious unknown IP address. The service also analyzes AWS CloudTrail, DNS logs, and VPC Flow logs without needing any additional security software deployments. 

  • Threat Detection Categories

Four primary threat detection categories recognized by AWS are Reconnaissance (unusual API activity), Instance Compromise, Account Compromise, and Bucket Compromise. By no means is this an exhaustive list, the goal here is to acquaint the user with the most common categories. To find the complete list, visit here.

  • Severity level

GuardDuty provides three severity levels to help you identify and prioritize potential breach.

  • Low: Suspicious activity blocked prior to resource compromise
  • Medium: Ongoing suspicious activity. For instance, a large amount of traffic being redirected to a remote host. 
  • High: The resource is compromised and is currently being used without an authorized access.

Sophos Cloud Optix

Sophos Cloud Optix is a strong alternative for Amazon GuardDuty and provides a superset of intelligent threat detection features. The security service is available across multiple platforms such as Kubernetes Clusters, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform (GCP), etc. To draw a fair comparison between the two, let’s review what CloudOptix has in store for us.


  • Traffic Flow Visualization

Topology visualization helps you provide an increased visibility to your application stack. This could reveal potential breach points along with comprehensive details of your network. The feature comes in handy while identifying unusual traffic activity, high value workloads and also gives you an insight of your traffic flow.  

Sophos Traffic Flow Visualization

  • Continuous Compliance

Cloud Optix automates the procedure of compliance assessment by providing audit ready reports for standards like SOC2, CIS, etc. It also gives you the flexibility to decide which resources adhere to certain compliance policies, hence, reducing the overall cost of auditing. 

  • Sophos Central

Cloud Optix is integrated into Sophos Central which provides a unified console for all your applications associated with it. This synchronized approach is customizable for each individual user making it easy to configure all your policies from one place.

Sophos Central Dashboard

Comparing Threat Detection Approaches

  • Cloud Compliance

Cloud Compliance in AWS comes in a package of two services – GuardDuty and Artifact. You need to enable both in order to take full advantage of the service. This may incur overhead as you would be stacking up two services for your account maintenance and security.

Cloud Optix, on the contrary, provides a unified console which makes it easier to have everything at one place. This feature makes Cloud Optix more user friendly and faster than AWS if your application runs on a huge number of resources.

  • Multi-Cloud approach

GuardDuty is an exclusive service for AWS users. It does provide an option of integrating it with your Microsoft Azure account. However, as mentioned above, multiple services when combined together could make your application slow by adding extra callbacks. 

Cloud Optix gives you the flexibility of integrating an unlimited number of accounts. It can also be combined with GuardDuty. For an application utilizing multiple clouds at once, switching to Cloud Optix would thus be a better choice since it provides you with a unified dashboard. 

  • Deployment

One of the core strengths of GuardDuty is its one-step deployment. The setup is simple and if you already work with AWS, it would barely take any time.

On the other hand, it could take more to set up Cloud Optix for the first time due to the additional capabilities that it provides.

Intelligent Threat Detection Pricing

Amazon GuardDuty Pricing

GuardDuty’s overall cost depends on the quantity of AWS CloudTrail events and the volume of VPC Flow and DNS logs analyzed. Pricing may vary according to location. 

  • CloudTrail Management Event analysis: $4 per million events/month
  • CloudTrail S3 Data Event analysis:
    • First 500 million events/month: $0.80/million
    • Next 4500 million events/month: $0.40/million
    • 5000 million events/month or more: $0.20/million
  • VPC Flow and DNS Logs analysis: charged per Gigabyte (GB)/month. Flow and DNS log analysis is offered with tiered volume discounts.
    • First 500 GB/month: $1.00/GB
    • Next 2000 GB/month: $0.50/GB
    • Next 7500 GB/month: $0.25/GB
    • 10000 GB/month or more: $0.15/GB

*Pricing for US East (Ohio)

AWS GuardDuty pricing also depends on the detection capacity utilized. The cost-effective architecture automatically manages resource utilization based on your workloads and the data stored in Amazon S3. This means that the detection capacity is added only when necessary and is removed when no longer needed. This approach gives your scalability while minimizing your cost.

Sophos Cloud Optix Pricing

Cloud Optix bills on an hourly basis: $0.019/host/hour where host is defined as cloud assets per hour.

Not sure which one costs less? Compare your estimates using AWS Calculator and Sophos Calculator or check out this pricing example by AWS.

In this article we compared two leading intelligent threat detection products, Amazon GuardDuty and Sophos Cloud Optix based upon their primary features and pricing. If you’re still skeptical about which one to choose, check out our 7 Best Practices for Cloud Monitoring.

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