Antivirus Software Buyers Guide

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Traditionally, the purpose of antivirus software was to detect and remove malicious code. If ignored, this malicious code could self-replicate and infect the entirety of your network. However, this is no longer the only task that new antivirus platforms carry out. Sophisticated virus control software now also provides protection against malware and other modern cyberthreats.

This redefinition of what antivirus means begs the question – what should you look for in a robust virus removal solution? This guide will define key characteristics to look out for and the level of protection you need.

What is antivirus?

An antivirus software is a computer virus removal solution. This software constantly runs in the background of your computer operations, looking for suspicious activity.

Whenever you download a new file, visit a new website, or click on a link, the antivirus will work to verify its validity. This safeguards you from accidentally infecting your computer. Antivirus software can also check hardware and removable media for viruses, including the likes of USB sticks, SD cards, and hard drives.

Once a virus has been detected, the software will quarantine and delete it – preventing it from enacting continuous damage to your computer system.

Why is it important to control computer viruses?

Viruses themselves can interrupt your workflow, slow down your computer, and prevent you, your employees, and your customers from completing computer actions successfully.

However, viruses can also be leveraged by hackers to infiltrate your network and gain access to your sensitive business data. Viruses create vulnerabilities in your computer system which hackers can use to uncover and manipulate company information. This could see both your employee and customer data being stolen, modified, or even permanently deleted.

Features to look for in virus protection software

When exploring your list of vendor options, make sure they can provide the following features:

Signature and behaviour-based protection

This related to the types of detection techniques offered by the software. Signature-based detection involves identifying malicious activity based on the signature of the code or software. The antivirus program will have a log of all signatures it knows to be malicious. This makes it easy for it to identify and remove harmful objects in your computer network.

However, this technique is limited to only the signatures that it recognises. If a new type of virus infects your computer, it won’t recognise it as malicious.

This is why you also need behaviour-based detection. This method analyses the behaviour of code and flags up all suspicious activity. For example, if the code attempts to modify settings or delete files, it will be quarantined and investigated by the antivirus.

If it determines it to be a virus, it will take note of its signature and delete it. By logging its signature, the antivirus will be able to identify similar objects in the future.

Full scan

While it’s important for the antivirus to scan your computer for viruses in real-time, it’s also important to set up full system scans to take place periodically. This process involves checking all files, network drives, folders, boot records, and running processes for any hidden viruses that it may have previously missed.

Given the importance of safeguarding your company data, full scans should be conducted as regularly as possible. Once per week is recommended, but more than this would be preferred.

Dated antivirus software solutions can take days to complete a full scan, which can make it difficult to find an opportune time. If your current software takes more than a few hours to conduct a full scan, you should invest in a more modern solution. 

While you can still use your computer during a scan, this may cause the virus protection software to miss files. So, it is recommended that you schedule full scans during hours when devices are used the least.

Web browsing protection

Your virus protection software should come with some form of safe browsing functionality. This helps protect you from suspicious websites by scanning URLs before permitting you to visit them. As it scans each webpage, it will review its history, contents, and coding to determine whether it is safe to visit.

Web protection tools come with a whitelist of accepted websites, activities, and programs and will permit or deny you access to parts of the internet based on this list.

Antimalware

More sophisticated systems protect your network against malware, which refers to software that is sent to your computer network with malicious intent. Common types of malwares include trojan viruses, adware, and spyware. These are transferred to your computer system through fake emails, file sharing sites, spoof chat messages, and a variety of other channels.

By opening one of these sources, you inadvertently download this malicious software onto your device. In most cases, the software is downloaded without you knowing.

Once the malware has infected your network, it can be used by hackers to spy on your computer activities and steal your data.

According to this cybersecurity report by Aviva, one in five businesses experience some form of cyberattack over the course of a year. So, having malware protection in place is crucial.

File scanning

As files are accessed and downloaded on your device, the antivirus software will vet them to judge their safety. It will judge these files against its logbook of known viruses, and also compare it to the files you have already safely downloaded onto your device.

Once scanned, the antivirus will permit you to download the file or put it into quarantine.

 

The challenges of antivirus software

While antivirus is vital for all businesses, it does come with its limitations. When shopping for new cybersecurity software, it would be worth looking for vendors that offer to minimise the following issues:

It takes up memory

Given that antivirus software is constantly running, it can take up part of your computer memory and resources. This can slow down your computer processes and cause other performance issues. These problems can be mitigated by investing in software that automatically updates and does most of its scanning work during low-activity work.

False positives

Antivirus software can sometimes show false positives. This is when harmless code, URLs, or files are flagged as being harmful. This can limit your business operations, especially if it occurs regularly. For example, if your business is regularly required to open new files from unfamiliar emails or websites, you may regularly be prevented from doing so.

While there is no antivirus software currently available that shows no false positives, it is possible to invest in software that keeps them to a minimum.

Limited customer support

Basic antivirus software – particularly free versions – lack sufficient customer support. This puts you at risk should a virus emergency happen. In such instances, would definitely help to have a representative of the software on-hand to help you resolve any issues. Typically, all that is provided by free antivirus is troubleshooting, basic FAQs, and potentially an AI-automated chatbot.

This can be avoided by investing in a premium antivirus solution with 24/7 support provided.

Shop for antivirus with YourShortlist

Does your current antivirus solution have all the features listed in this article? If not, it’s time to update your cybersecurity measures.

However, antivirus is a big industry. How do you know which vendor will meet your security requirements exactly?

You can find the best-fitting software solution with the help of YourShortlist. We’re procurement experts and have a wide range of partners who offer antivirus protection. After a quick consultation with us, we can refine your selection of providers down to a shortlist of software options that meet your needs exactly.

Contact us today to get started!