Antivirus – The No. 1 Way to Keep the Cyber-Flu Away

Doing business in the 21st century requires an internet connection, but, hopefully, it is common knowledge by now that it would only be madness to connect to the internet without an antivirus protecting your computer and your data.

Let's stop right here for just a bit. Important is to know that Antivirus or AV originally got its name because it was developed to detect and remove computer viruses. The name stuck in minds of ordinary people due to its original purpose, but boy, how times have changed!

A computer virus is now only one form of what is called a malware, or malicious software designed to infect and harm computers and mobile devices in general. As different kinds of malware started to appear, antivirus software started to provide protection from those newly emerged threats as well.

The most common types of malware today are:

1. Virus – It's an infectious piece of code that spreads through the host system once it is run. The virus is usually spread when sharing software between computers;

2. Adware – Not all adware is malicious in intent, but they can sure become annoying and can harm computer performance. It is basically advertisement that get published on user screen and is designed to examine user's internet activity to present and feature related ads;

3. Spyware – This sneaky malware is very difficult to detect. It is used to spy and track user's internet and general activities to provide hackers with information about the host system. Although the user is usually the victim, some companies use spyware such as keyloggers to monitor employees' activities;

4. Worms – The nasty worm will replicate itself to eat up all system operating files and data on a drive;

5. Trojan – The name paints the picture: it's a virus designed to make you think you are running a safe program while you're not. It can steal personal or financial data, or it can make a host system or a business network unavailable for users;

6. Ransomware – This one is a true corporate nightmare and we're sure everyone now has a clear idea what it is. It is an advanced malware that encrypts or blocks a computer system until the user pays ransom in bitcoin currency. Read more about ransomware and how it's being handled here.

We Tested More Than 100 Malware Software, so You Don't Have To. Here's What We Found.

All antiviruses that exist today on the market supposedly protect from all kinds of known malware, however the effectiveness of such protection is questionable for each product. Moreover, there is free antivirus software and then there's software that you'll need to purchase. So, which one should you get? Well, it depends. Ask yourself this: How important is your business data to you?

There is no doubt – there is some pretty good free antivirus software out there worth mentioning. We'd like to mention four top and best-known antiviruses: Malwarebytes, Avira, Avast and Comodo. But don't think that you can just go "Eeny, meeny, miny, moe" here, because there are important differences.

For example, Malwarebytes would probably be the best free malware removal tool, that has an extremely fast scan that removes malware that normally get past regular antivirus. However, the down side is that the free version doesn't support real-time scanning, which is kind of a big deal. No real-time protection certainly can't make it your primary antivirus.

Comodo has a perfect score when it comes to hands-on malware blocking test, it offers automatic sandboxing of suspect programs and has behavior-based malware detection. However, it scored poorly on independent lab tests and failed to detect hand-modified malware samples. Plus, it is a total nightmare when it comes to slowing your computer down, so it's not worth it.

Avast is certified by one independent testing lab, has a speedy full scan and excellent phishing protection for Chrome and Firefox (poor on Safari, though). Detection rate is ok (if you're down with ok), but it will slow down your system so much that the stress is really not worth it. Computer speed is something that is crucial in case you want to do any sort of business, so we take it very seriously.

Avira, on the other hand, does not have a lot of features, but the most essential ones are present, like Anti-Virus and Anti-Ransomware protection. It does not feature, however, its own Firewall, but it simply modifies the existing Microsoft Windows Firewall. This means that Avira won't impact your system performance at all, but Windows Firewall is not something that you should completely rely one. Since it doesn't slow down your computer at all, Avira would definitely be our no. 1 recommendation as the Best Free Antivirus.

However, we must point out that businesses require business antivirus solutions for a reason. Avira would be a perfect fit for home usage, for small businesses that don't store data that is too delicate or for companies that rely heavily on cloud.

Bitdefender – Best Business Security Software

Bitdefender is a top antivirus vendor for years now, better than Symantec and Kaspersky. It has a small footprint and very light on the system without much of an impact on the performance. It has a cross-platform protection, spyware and ransomware protection (against four specific ransomware families), it is extremely fast and effective, has speedup and cleanup tools and many useful bonus features. It's worth mentioning that it is an award-winning cybersecurity for PCs, Macs, mobile devices and smart homes, although the only downside would be that the features are limited in iOS app.

Bitdefender has the largest security delivery infrastructure on the planet – 500 million machines, performing 11 billion security queries per day. If you want every possible security component delivered in one package, then Bitdefender Total Security is what you'll need. Secure Networks ITC is the official Bitdefender partner and the no. 1 recommendation to our clients. Don't be fooled by our partnership, we were recommending Bitdefender long before we became partners. It is the top AV around for years now and has many different Independent labs backing up this claim.

The downside, as there is always one with such a complex software, is the configuration. It can be a bit difficult to configure just right and can become too intrusive. Either blocking the apps that you do not want blocked or asking users for too much input. It has its own algorithm for learning, but it will take some time to configure itself properly. If you are searching for a top AV with great features and capabilities and would like to get it up and running perfectly from day one, give us a call. As an experienced IT provider, we can decrease the time of deployment and setup, making sure you get the best experience and gain confidence in Bitdefender from day one.

Personal and Business Security Software is Not the Same. Here are the Differences You Need to Know About.

Difference Between Business and Personal Security Software

Home or personal computers contain important personal data that also should be protected from both online and offline threats. When protecting one or more home computers or any device connected to the network, you would need to protect each device individually and manage it locally by physically accessing each one. While you would be able to monitor the status of other PCs in the home network, you won't be able to update or configure the program remotely. That would be the main difference between home computers and business computers.

Namely, business computers can be protected through centralized management console that comes with every business grade antivirus software. Using the console for managing the host system and simultaneously all devices and computers in the business network requires the expertise of an IT administrator. The IT would need to install the business security software on the server or main workstation to protect multiple client PCs and the computers would be managed either locally or remotely.

Business antivirus software can protect multiple types of operating systems (Windows, Mac OS, Linux), e-mail servers and smart devices at the same time and in real-time without the need to install additional software. As mentioned, this feature won't be available with personal antivirus software, as separate software needs to be installed on each device.

The difference in management is not the only difference between these two types of computers and networks. As you might assume, the options and features of business security tools are much more sophisticated and comprehensive, while personal security software is intentionally designed to be easier to use. One more benefit of centralized management console is the simultaneous security tools update. The IT administrator doesn't need to physically access each business computer, but all updates and upgrades will be done at once.

Of course, due to the type of protection and the protection scope, business security software is more expensive than the personal one. It protects more devices, provides more features and, therefore, more security for your business data. The licenses and options might also vary, and the price usually depends on the number of seats included in the protection plan.

We need to mention another important difference and it's regarding the customer support. Security vendors understand that some businesses need to continue using older antivirus versions, because quite often their customized business apps work only with previous versions. IT administrator can request a license extension although the new version has been released and the security vendor can prolong the older version for a certain fee. This is not the case with private antivirus software where the support is rather static.

Difference Between Regular (Client) and Centralized Antivirus Protection

There are two types of strategies that can be employed: client or server AV.

Client antivirus strategy protects workstations from malware that enter the system through USB or other types of media, which means that the malware will be caught before it's transmitted from the workstation to the server. However, there are a lot of downsides to this model. For example, antivirus protection can be disabled, uninstalled or incorrectly configured by the end user. Also, it needs to be licensed and installed on each workstation separately.

On the other hand, centralized system (usually installed on the server) provides more protection (many vendors offer extra features, but the most effective one is the antispam solution) and security. For example, all file transfers carried out on the server can be scanned, and the protection cannot be disabled or uninstalled by workstation user. It allows centralized management and can be installed remotely. As you can imagine, it doesn't need to be installed on each workstation individually but requires installation on the server. This would be the main difference between the two systems.

The server-based system is also called Endpoint protection, term used to refer to corporate products that include a certain range of security features. Its name comes from the fact that all computers are considered endpoints where each endpoint is responsible for its own security. The main difference between the two systems is also the Endpoint's advantage. You would need only one license with multiple activation. The license would enable you to perform tasks on all devices at the same time, like managing rules for the types of scans, allowing or blocking lists, allowing or blocking apps, setting scanning intervals and so on, and it all would be done from a centralized spot.

What does this mean for an organization? An office uses same or similar software and needs same or similar rules that are pushed to all workstations as fast as possible – ideally would be at the exact same time. Without Endpoint, protection would be installed separately, on each individual computer which would be complicated, time consuming and it would be a waste of extra resources and money.

Talking about money, indeed, Endpoint protection can sometimes be more expensive than having individual solutions, but sometimes it can even be cheaper, because you would probably be able to get a bulk price. However, when taking the time consumption in consideration and having a technician at your office who would need to sit down and replicate all rules on each and every computer - then you'll realize that the endpoint solution is the best business solution there is.

We would need to point an important fact however. In case you own a small business of up to 5 computers, then you don't really need the endpoint protection. Even 10 would perhaps be manageable by the client-based system, but, honestly, it would be pushing it. In case you own a business that has more than 10 workstations, then the endpoint security would be the reasonable choice for your business.

Contact us either way, we'd love to discuss your requirements and option that is suitable for your business.

10 Things You Need to Know About Antiviruses

As mentioned before, there are a lot of antivirus options out there and choosing the right one can be tricky (unless you give us a call, wink-wink). Knowing everything about malware and antiviruses isn’t something you should waste your precious time on, as you have your own business to take care of.

So, although taking care of your business data protection and security is a job for an IT service provider, we came up with a list of 10 useful points you should know about antimalware programs, as we believe it will help you gain a better understanding of the matter and help you and your business on a day-to-day basis.

1. There Isn’t an Antivirus Software That’s 100% Effective – Antivirus vendors are trying to stay ahead, but new malware is coming out fast, so they can't tackle each one right away. Important is to know your antivirus capabilities and recognize areas where you'll need to get reinforcement.

2. Features Vary Between Different Antivirus Software Options – Different vendors offer slightly different features, so antivirus programs can be classified into three categories non-resident (least resource intensive, least effective, you'll need to scan files manually), resident (moderate resource intensive, scans all your files, reasonable protection) and internet security (high resource intensive, but also the best protection as it considers all inbound and outbound traffic).

3. Antivirus Protection Slows Down the Device Speed – Since speed is crucial for most businesses, you'll need to choose your AV protection carefully. It's important to find the right balance between protection and slowing down your computer, as you won't be able to get anything done if the program is interfering with your computer speed too much.

4. Antivirus Programs May Mistakenly Block a Safe File - The problem that you might experience with even the best AV is that it's too aggressive, it blocks shared folders, access to files, etc. The proper configuration is the key here.

5. Two Antiviruses on the Same Device is Bad - Running more than one antivirus program on a solitary device can cause issues, as the two applications will presumably hinder each other’s work.

6. Don't Trust All Antivirus Reviews – Don't trust all kinds of different test labs as there are too many of them, and they're mostly not objective. Gain knowledge from independent labs about the AV quality. 2 major ones are AV Comparatives (based in Austria) & AV-Test (based in Germany).

7. Personal and Business Security Software is Not the Same - There are some pretty good free AV options out there, but they are only good enough for personal (home) device protection. Always go with the paid options for protecting your business data, as the paid options provide superior security.

8. You Won't Always Get Notified When Your Computer is Infected – It is estimated that about one-third of computers around the globe are infected with malware, and most of the people don't have a clue about it. You'll need to perform regular scans to catch the infection.

9. Viruses Can Attack All Devices – Don't live under the illusion that only Windows systems are compromised. Malware software is developing rapidly, and it is a threat to all operating systems.

10. Tiny Businesses Don't Really Need Endpoint Protection – Businesses with up to 5 computers don't really need Endpoint protection. For more than 10 workstations, Endpoint security and IT administrator would be a reasonable choice.

Secure Networks Best Business Security Software

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