IT admins frequently grapple with serious issues faced by their enterprise. They often have to make crucial business decisions, such as choosing the right antivirus software to defend their systems. However, with evolved computers and advanced software and hardware available today, do enterprises still need to rely heavily on antivirus software? Can’t responsible cyber behavior practices like exhibiting proper digital hygiene keep hackers at bay? Let’s take a look at what antivirus software does and how enterprises can supplement it.
What antivirus solutions do
Hackers often inject harmful software—like ransomware, trojans, rootkits, and keyloggers—onto systems to open avenues for them to sneak into enterprise networks. Your antivirus software is capable of quarantining these malicious injections and rendering them ineffective. New viruses are developed all the time, but there are global threat detection networks that constantly feed antivirus software with updated information on malware variants.
How malware gets into your systems
Let’s look at some scenarios in which malware can intrude upon your network:
Failing to patch applications—especially browsers like Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer.
Visiting unsafe websites at work.
Installing unnecessary browser plug-ins.
Opening suspicious links or attachment files, irrespective of who sent them.
How you can prevent malware from spreading across your network
While the above scenarios are some common points of entry, malware can still spread like wildfire when infected files are shared between systems. Antivirus software is a good prevention method, but there’s no guarantees when it comes to defending against evolving malware variants. Enterprises need to supplement their antivirus software with proper digital hygiene. The general notion is that responsible professionals who browse safely, keep their applications up to date, apply timely OS updates, and follow recommended IT practices aren’t likely to run into issues with malware.
What IT administrators can do differently
As an administrator in charge of a corporate IT infrastructure, you could make a few tweaks that could save time and money. First, you want to have a proactive, automated patching program in place.
While antivirus software only starts working after it discovers the network is infected, a proactive solution like a vulnerability manager or a configuration manager can help detect existing vulnerabilities, security misconfigurations and keep all software patched and up to date. Using these kinds of solutions denies hackers a chance to exploit vulnerabilities that are already out in the wild. However, something to look out for is zero-day vulnerabilities. Zero-day vulnerabilities can only be curbed if a software vendor comes up with a patch before hackers discover the vulnerability and start using it in the wild.
Many browsers allow extensions and plug-ins to be installed for added functionalities. These extra bits of software are sometimes needed to use cloud-based applications, but installing extensions and plug-ins from untrusted sources can expose systems to malware. What’s more, vulnerabilities in extensions and plug-ins can expose systems as well. What admins need is a browser security solution that keeps useful extensions and plug-ins up to date, and blacklists untrusted add-ons. A browser security solution should also be able to do other things like whitelist business-critical websites, which prevents employees from visiting unproductive or malicious websites.
Another thing to look out for is a tool that allows technicians to remotely select which USB ports to block. Antivirus software can stop malware from spreading once it is on a system, but a tool such as this prevents malicious agents from intentionally infecting systems.
Supplementing Windows Defender with endpoint management
All said and done, if malware does inadvertently find its way through your network, you can still avoid adverse consequences. As we said before, antivirus software is often recommended to remove malicious software from systems. Even something as simple as Windows Defender—which comes built-in to Windows 8 and above—is capable of protecting your systems, files, and online activities from viruses, malware, spyware, and other digital threats. Windows Defender has emerged as one of the best antivirus solutions in recently concluded AV tests. If you’re using a configuration manager program, make sure that it consistently updates Windows Defender’s antivirus definitions.
Once you have antivirus software in place, we highly recommend using an endpoint management solution. Endpoint management gives you greater control over all the devices connected in your network, as well as which applications can be used on those devices. With the fine-tuned control endpoint management allows, you do not have to worry anymore about outdated software or negligent internet browsing, just bid goodbye to malware and threats!