Business Security

Is antivirus protection necessary for my business?

Avast Business Team, 28 February 2019

With threats like ransomware, businesses can’t afford to leave their networks and data unsecured

If you've been wondering whether your business requires antivirus protection, the short answer is yes. Even though Windows 10 has its own well-rated built-in antivirus program, Windows Defender, investing in a dedicated antivirus solution can offer a more comprehensive protection. Read on to learn how antivirus solutions can protect your business and reduce the risk of costly cybersecurity breaches.

Why do I need antivirus software to protect my business?

Cyberthreats are always evolving. As operating systems and web browsers have developed to more effectively stop viruses, cybercriminals have also been devising new types of attacks. Sophisticated new malware makes use of undiscovered software vulnerabilities, and can get through the basic protection offered by your operating system and web browsers if you don’t have a robust anti-malware solution in place.

An increasing number of cybersecurity threats are specifically targeted at businesses, with ransomware especially being a cause for concern. SamSam ransomware, for example, has previously brought down a hospital in Indiana and the city of Atlanta (yes, the whole city). And a ransomware attack against the Port of San Diego brought the transport hub to a standstill. You need antivirus to make sure your business is not vulnerable to a ransomware attack.

While installing the latest security updates will secure your system against known threats, bad actors sell ‘zero-day’ exploits - vulnerabilities yet unknown to software vendors - via online black markets. These exploits then allow malware to go undetected by browsers and operating systems.

Antivirus products like endpoint protection create an extra layer of protection so that even if malware manages to get to your computer, you have something in place to detect and remove it before it disrupts the whole network.

Antivirus software works by not only detecting and removing viruses, but securing your data against all different types of attacks. For example, web security tools can help prevent phishing attacks and block malicious websites, and anti-ransomware tools can protect the data on your devices from being encrypted and held for ransom.

Mobile workforces mean mobile vulnerabilities

Mobile devices are allowing unprecedented flexibility in workplaces. Laptops make working from home or while travelling easy, and phones and tablets allow convenient access to emails and data in the cloud even without a computer. These new ways of working, however, come with new risks. Appropriate mobile device security is essential to keep your network safe.

The more endpoints you have connecting to your network - whether laptops, phones, or other devices - the more opportunities there are for attacks, and the higher the chance that one of the devices is compromised. A comprehensive endpoint security solution protects from all angles of attack in real time, and ensures that new devices aren’t leaving the rest of your network vulnerable.

Small businesses are increasingly using BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies to allow flexibility and save costs by letting employees use their own laptops and phones for work. However, as BYOD introduces unprotected devices to the network, it makes the business more vulnerable and the need for robust endpoint protection even more important. More devices don’t just create risk when they’re connected to the workplace Wi-Fi networks. Cloud services like email and cloud data storage, which can be accessed from outside the workplace, can be put at risk through compromised devices.

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You can't just rely on caution and common sense

While common sense goes a long way to keeping your private computer safe, much more is needed to keep a business network safe. Training employees to understand the risks of phishing and clicking on certain links is important, but phishing attacks are also becoming more sophisticated. It can be difficult to tell them apart from legitimate emails and sites even for those with experience detecting them.

There is always room for human error, so protecting your devices and network with antivirus is essential. Relying on caution at an individual level is not only risky, but can create unnecessary stress as a single mistake can be costly. The UK government estimates that the average cost of a single cyberattack to businesses is nearly £10,000 - with some being even far costlier. A proper antivirus solution will give you the peace of mind that there is always a last line of defence to protect you and your customers’ data.

If I'm using Windows 10, do I still need antivirus?

With Windows 10, Microsoft released the new Windows Defender, their most up-to-date antivirus program yet. It is much better at detecting and removing viruses than its Windows 7 predecessor, Microsoft Security Essentials, but even in small businesses, you are likely to have multiple computers, perhaps with different operating systems and levels of updates. For example, a small marketing agency may have Macs for designers and Windows computers for other staff. Computers that are not in use every day are also highly likely to fall behind as updates won’t get performed regularly. Old software versions are also a major risk if employees are allowed to work on their own devices, as they likely aren’t maintained by IT support. Any device that doesn’t have the latest security updates can leave the whole network vulnerable.

While Windows Defender has many features similar to other antivirus solutions, tests have shown that it blocks non-malicious files or domains more often than other software. These ‘false positives’ may be worrying to small business owners.

When it comes to protecting your small business, there is no substitution for paid-for software that is tailored to meet your business needs. It is better to be protected by a system made by security experts than by one made by a tech company that also have a security feature.

Keep your business and customer data secure

Small businesses can have more difficulty recovering from a large-scale attack than major companies with in-house IT departments. Protecting your company's data with a comprehensive cybersecurity solution is essential.

Using antivirus programs is important for data security, as common sense and software updates are simply not enough to protect against advanced threats like ransomware. Mobile working allows businesses a lot of flexibility and cost savings, but it’s essential that you protect your network and data against the new risks that the digital workplace poses.

Avast Business offers a range of antivirus solutions tailored to the needs of small business owners. Learn more about our products.