Antivirus software is not a new term, in fact, the first antivirus software was released in 1987 by IBM to detect and remove viruses. Although the premise of the software remains the same today, it has become a widely more robust tool. As hackers have gotten more sophisticated continuing to protect your endpoints as an introductory piece to the puzzle is a worthwhile investment.
What does the term “antivirus software” mean today?
Today the software is not just one thing but rather a package of many things, each constantly evolving to create defense mechanisms that will protect you from the constant attack of malicious content. It will constantly scan your device for threats from email, apps, downloads, and web surfing to make sure that everything you access or do online is free from malicious code. If a problem is detected, the software will alert you and prevent you from accessing the suspicious file or website to eliminate the possibility of a threat.
How does antivirus software detect threats?
As the threats continue to evolve and come from a wide variety of locations so do the threat protection options. Some of the most common threat protections today are:
Signature-Based Analysis: Think of this type of protection as a virtual library database where the good guys store common types of identified threats known as “virus definitions” from files and suspicious websites. This database is constantly updated and your antivirus program will compare your “files” against the threats in this database and respond accordingly when there’s a match.
Heuristic Analysis: Many hackers are familiar with the signature-based database mentioned above and will work to disguise their malicious code to get around the database. Heuristic analysis is a sophisticated way to match pieces of malicious code to those in the signature-based database.
Sandbox Detection: Some hacker’s code is so well disguised or encrypted that it can make it around the protections mentioned above. Thus, if an encrypted file seems vaguely suspicious to your antivirus software, some software will pull it into a “sandbox”. This sandbox is a secure area inside the antivirus software that will determine if the file is malicious without damaging your computer, most of the time before you even know it happens.
Machine Learning / Artificial Intelligence (AI): As hackers have become more advanced so have antivirus software providers, using machine learning or AI they can identify unique ways hackers are using to disguise their work. The software will add information to a database which aids in the software become more equipped to detect previously unknown malware.
What kind of antivirus software do you need?
Seeing that the premise of the software has been around for almost thirty-five years, there are plenty of options on the market to choose from. To aid in your selection process we’ve put together 3 things not to avoid when it comes to your antivirus software.
Effective Detection Rates
One of the biggest most important details that companies should be paying attention to when shopping for software is, unfortunately, one of the most commonly overlooked.
A good file detection rate helps you determine the reliability and level of protection that an antivirus software tool will deliver once you sign up. Online and offline rates should be above 99% for your protection.
Threats are guaranteed to come from a variety of sources on a variety of different platforms. Ensure that your antivirus software, at the minimum, offers signature analysis, heuristic analysis, sandbox detection, and machine learning / artificial intelligence.
Viruses are designed to attack specific platforms or operating systems and you likely have a variety of device types within your organizations (iPhones, Androids, Macs, etc.) make sure to select software that offers layered protection for all of your devices across multiple platforms.
Another thing not to be avoided is privacy protection. You should endeavor to choose an antivirus software option that comes with ample privacy protections.
Believe it or not, many antivirus software companies mine customer data for their own purposes. If you don’t want your data spread, you’d do well to find antivirus software that comes with plenty of privacy protections.
In addition to finding it with privacy protections, you need to find a vendor you can trust. The relationship between businesses and antivirus software vendors should not be a casual one. Remember, you are trusting another company’s software product to protect valuable digital assets of your own.
As a final tip, you should always make sure that your software is both turned on and backed up at all times. If your antivirus software isn’t turned on, it’s not going to provide much in the way of protection. Check-in with your IT provider or team and ask for uptime reports of your antivirus software to ensure protection!
Antivirus software is a vital element of protection against any number of cyber-threats. It is not something to be ignored, neglected, or skipped over. If you use these tips and put them to use when shopping for software for your business, you’ll be on the right track!
For IT services in Kansas City, contact The Purple Guys today!