Beyond antivirus software: Steps for total business protection
Antivirus (AV) software is an excellent form of protection against established viruses that have been around for a while and are easy to identify. However, malware has morphed into many different areas beyond viruses, including malicious URLs and phishing links. Therefore, in today’s threat landscape, AV software is no longer enough for good cybersecurity practices, and the simple questions “do I need both antivirus and malware protection”, or the more basic “is antivirus still necessary” carry legitimacy.
The Ponemon Institute—a respected research institution on privacy, data protection, and information security policy—released a study in 2020 that describes how user trust in antivirus software is low. The participants in the study expressed little confidence that traditional signature-based antivirus software was sufficient against the ever-growing list of new and unknown malware threats.
So, is antivirus for businesses a good idea? Yes, but it’s not enough.
Benefits of antivirus software
There are a number of benefits of antivirus software in cybersecurity:
- Some antivirus software programs come with additional features such as VPN capability, and corresponding secure email that works with the VPN.
- Most antivirus for businesses can be set up for daily malware scans that happen in the background and don’t affect the daily work of users.
- Some companies include firewalls within the overall antivirus software in cybersecurity, for an added level of safety.
- For organizations that conduct a lot of online transactions, antivirus products can mitigate the probability of threat actors stealing personal information, such as passwords and social security numbers.
- Antivirus for businesses, can also be helpful with compliance requirements, a tangible added-value for small IT departments that are always people- and resource-limited.
- There are also many pricing options available, so small businesses especially can choose plans that are appropriate for their unique situations. Pay-what-you-need plans, especially on a per-user or device level, can let a company scale up and down with their employee base.
However, there are some cons:
- Antivirus programs can slow down computers and cause lags on a company’s network.
- Some antivirus programs do not offer complete protection and can only recognize certain malware threats. They cannot keep up with all the new types of malware appearing on the market or the new and innovative ways they manifest themselves on user devices and company networks.
While there are many choices in the antivirus marketplace, three widely known options are Bitdefender, Norton AntiVirus and Malwarebytes. Across the three solutions, they provide a complete representation of all important aspects to think about when considering antivirus for businesses.
Bitdefender is a good solution for organizations with a philosophy of prevention-based cybersecurity. It automatically performs daily scans without users being involved, and an affected user only gets notified if there’s malware present. Bitdefender is also comprehensive because it protects against most adware, malware, web attacks, and ransomware.
Norton AntiVirus, is the most widely known, due to its 30+ years on the market. It protects enterprises against viruses, spyware, malware, and other online threats, and its software is constantly updated to stay on top of the latest threats.
MalwareBytes is the best for real-time protection against malware, spyware, ransomware, and other online threats. It includes a malware removal tool that can automatically get rid of tough threats.
Why antivirus software not enough
With internet usage skyrocketing and the rapid expansion of malware, it’s becoming difficult for enterprises to prevent every user device and company network from getting infected. The main risk is a double whammy of time and resources for cybersecurity versus attacker awareness.
It can take up to a month for antivirus providers to understand how a particular type of malware works before they can update their solutions to detect and eliminate it. In the meantime, malware authors are keenly aware of this reality and release new versions as quickly as they can, knowing that every version has limited time prior to becoming obsolete.
This is a serious shortcoming of antivirus software, which is why relying solely on antivirus software will not provide sufficient protection against these growing malware threats.
Add more cybersecurity layers to reduce risk
Incremental to antivirus software, there are two cybersecurity solutions that can detect, respond to, and prevent malware attacks.
- Endpoint detection and response (EDR) solutions monitor the behavior of all applications on an endpoint or network device to detect suspicious activity that may signal an attack that the antivirus program missed. EDR solutions are often cloud-based and offer advanced analytics and machine learning capabilities that also improve detection accuracy.
- Managed detection and response (MDR) combines EDR solutions with security operations center (SOC) services. It provides a comprehensive view of an entire network, including the endpoints, by collecting data from multiple sources such as logs, events, and activities. It uses analytics and machine learning to detect and respond to threats in real-time. The reporting requirements and alerts resulting from implementing an EDR solution can get overwhelming for thinly resourced IT teams. Leveraging a SOC to stay on top of these data streams and their associated analytic requirements, is a cost-effective approach for an in-house MDR solution.
Viruses still exist and are used regularly by bad actors, so antivirus is still a necessary part of protecting yourself and your clients. But to keep up with the ever-evolving threat landscape, antivirus is not enough. Using EDR or MDR solutions as supplementary to antivirus for businesses is recommended for holistic malware prevention.