Endpoint Security or Antivirus Software for Small Businesses?

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Most small businesses just rely on an antivirus tool to mitigate cyber risks, despite the fact that hackers show an increasing tendency to target small businesses.

Small businesses leave many devices unprotected, which causes security risks. Moreover, with BYOD devices and IoT devices being used in large numbers, cybersecurity is becoming crucial for small businesses today. But then, would it be good to have just an antivirus tool alone? Or, would such businesses have to choose endpoint security software for better protection?

Well, it all depends. It depends on factors like the size of the network, the presence of remote workers, the nature of the business etc. Based on these and other important factors, businesses need to make the right choice. It does matter, because for any business today, cybersecurity is of crucial importance!

Endpoint security vs. antivirus software

Endpoint protection involves detecting malicious activity at all endpoints and protecting networks (including desktops, servers, mobile devices etc) from all kinds of intrusions and attacks. Endpoint security works based on the assumption that every endpoint, every single device that’s connected to a network is a vulnerability- a potential entry point for security threats. Endpoint security protects all endpoints in a network as well as the network; it does things like authenticating logins from endpoints, supporting software deployment, software updates etc. Endpoint protection software are a suite of cybersecurity applications- firewalls, antivirus tools, intrusion detection software etc.

Antivirus software, installed on an individual device/system, detects and removes malware (viruses, trojans, worms, keyloggers, spyware, adware etc). Antivirus tools keep running in the background and scan device directories and file periodically for all kinds of malicious presence. This is done by matching virus definitions and signatures to a database of malware and then blocking/quarantining on finding a match. Antivirus software comes either as a stand-alone product or as a component of endpoint protection platform.

Key features of endpoint security platforms

  • Endpoint detection/response including detecting and reporting of vulnerabilities.
  • Provides anti-malware protection.
  • Protects data and even offers additional functionalities like DLP (Data Loss Prevention), firewall, mobility management etc.
  • Provides reports and alerts about vulnerabilities and issues.
  • Integrates with other security tools- intrusion prevention, network monitoring, SIEM etc- via open API systems.
  • Provides incident investigation and remediation via centralized, automated tools.

Key features of antivirus software

  • Real-time scanning, which includes taking action against threats/malware detected.
  • Identifies all kinds of malware.
  • Gives web protection as well; secures online browsing sessions, downloads etc.
  • Sends alerts and notifications about malicious software, infected files etc.
  • Quarantines, removes infected files based on the severity of damage it could cause.
  • Provides automatic updates about virus definitions, signatures etc.

So, endpoint security or antivirus?

The answer, in our opinion, should be simple. For a small business, the best option would be to go for an endpoint security solution, especially one that offers managed services to deploy/monitor software operations remotely plus managed detection/response capabilities.

Which brand to choose?

This is one area that we’d prefer to stay out of. The choice of brand, for endpoint protection software as well as for antivirus tools depends a lot on your requirements, which, in turn, depend on the nature of your business, the size of your network, the kind of devices you connect to your network etc. You should also consult peers, experts etc before making a choice. However, we’d always say that it’s better to go for reputed brands like Comodo, Avast, McAfee, Symantec, AVG, WebTitan etc. Every business needs to have a budget set aside for this, because, as we have already mentioned, security is crucial for the successful running of any business today.

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Julia Sowells824 Posts

Julia Sowells has been a technology and security professional. For a decade of experience in technology, she has worked on dozens of large-scale enterprise security projects, and even writing technical articles and has worked as a technical editor for Rural Press Magazine. She now lives and works in New York, where she maintains her own consulting firm with her role as security consultant while continuing to write for Hacker Combat in her limited spare time.

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