Posts Tagged ‘Antivirus’

James Fields: Antivirus software still a necessary tool

May 16th, 2014

Have you heard? Antivirus is dead. Kaput. No longer relevant in today’s computer security world, where 315,000 new malicious files are detected every day.

When Brian Dye, senior vice president of information security for Symantec — the company that invented commercial antivirus software 25 years ago — told The Wall Street Journal a couple of weeks ago that antivirus “is dead,” loyal antivirus updaters across the world rightfully asked, “What does that mean?”

Let’s start by saying that while it makes a great headline, declaring that antivirus is dead is an exaggeration. Antivirus is still an important part of your computer security equation. However, believing that it’s the only part, and that antivirus alone will protect you, is highly inaccurate.

Antivirus is a piece of software designed to prevent, detect and remove malicious viruses from a computer system or network. Most antivirus software, traditionally and today, works by blacklisting malicious code. There are millions and millions of computer viruses out in the world — some of them existing and some original — and when antivirus software finds a known piece of bad code, it flags and bans it.

A blacklist protection system is always playing catch-up — it is always inherently one step behind. Though it’s flawed, antivirus software using a blacklist model is straightforward and easy to implement, which is why it’s been our most widespread computer virus protection system for the past 25 years.

A supremely superior model of security is white-label. Say there are 500 tasks that your computer needs to perform and programs it needs to run. If you already know that these 500 things are safe, a white-label system allows these 500 things and prevents everything else.

This method is incredibly effective and safe, yet very few people use it because it requires an enormous amount of effort to set up. Since you have to tell your computer each and every program it is allowed to run, this white-label antivirus model is not practical for most people at this time.

If blacklist antivirus is too little, and white-list systems are too much, to find the “just right” solution, I suggest taking a layered approach to your computer’s security. Your system needs to include a blacklist antivirus software program in addition to Internet filtering.

In this day and age, if you’re not filtering your Internet connection, you’re going to be attacked and hackers are going to compromise your systems. This goes for both personal and business use.

It’s important to note that, when implemented properly, Internet filtering can be aggravating at times, because by design it prevents you from going to some places on the Internet. This barrier can get in your way, preventing you from doing something that you want to do. The worst thing that you can do in this instance is shut off your Internet filtering. You can put all the safeguards in the world on your computer, but if you don’t actually use the tools, they’re worse than useless because they cost you money and don’t secure anything.

The last important thing to understand is that the general goal of computer viruses is to exploit some vulnerability in another piece of software on your computer, like Adobe Flash Player or Acrobat Reader. Even with antivirus software and Internet filtering implemented, you need to be sure to keep your computers and all the software that runs on them up-to-date all the time.

James Fields is owner and president of IT service provider Concept Technology and IT staffing company Scout Staffing.


The next wave of antivirus software will cover all your devices — even at work

April 24th, 2014

McAfee and Symantec have had their day. Now a startup called Sentinel Labs wants a shot at the antivirus market.

Sentinel started last year, picked up some seed funding, and quietly released software to protect individual devices against advanced threats.

Then, customers told Sentinel what they wanted next was new antivirus software for all their devices, co-founder and chief executive Tomer Weingarten said in an interview with VentureBeat.

“We know the market is ripe for disruption, so we went with that vision back to our existing investors,” Weingarten said.

“We told them basically that we had already built the hardest parts here, which is an antivirus engine. Now we just need to build on that and built that entire offering for antivirus.”

The investors must have liked the pitch, because now Sentinel has completed a new $12 million funding round.

The funding hints at the value of bolstering security on the devices that lots of employees use — smartphones, tablets, desktops — rather than the networking devices that a few data center administrators might have access to. Funding for companies like Lookout Mobile and CrowdStrike, as well as FireEye’s Mandiant acquisition, also hint at the sensibility of keeping watch on individual client devices.

Even if Sentinel strives to keep all devices covered, it doesn’t want to slow down the performance of those devices. Its technology aims to use less than 1 percent of CPU and memory resources on a given device. Sentinel supports Mac OS X and Android, and it expects to announce support for iOS and Linux soon, Weingarten said.

But each operating system takes time because each one faces different attack vectors. Apple mobile devices could face man-in-the-middle attacks and malicious profile attacks, while Windows machines might deal with malware or Trojan horse attacks.

Sentinel can cover such threats, but Weingarten said, “For us that’s a very small portion of the entire picture.” Devices on many operating systems can remain protected even when they’re offline and unconnected to a network, he said. And the system is constantly tracking new patterns and making predictions based on threat intelligence it collects from devices it’s charged with protecting.

The company works with about 15 customers today in different stages of the sales process, Weingarten said.

Tiger Global led today’s round in Sentinel, which is based in Palo Alto, Calif. Accel Partners, Data Collective, Granite Hill Capital Partners, and the Westly Group also participated. To date Sentinel has raised $14.5 million.


Avast vs. AVG: Which Antivirus Software is Better for Business?

April 17th, 2014

Viruses, malware and spyware can wreak havoc on individual computers and entire networks. From small inconveniences to privacy breaches and even complete data loss, fixing infected systems can be very costly for small businesses. The solution is to use antivirus software. Antivirus software ensures that systems stay protected before any disasters occur. Two of the most popular and affordable antivirus software solutions are avast! 2014 and AVG. Here’s how the two stack up against each other.
avast! Antivirus 2014

Avast offers three types of antivirus protection: avast! Free Antivirus; avast! Internet Security; and avast! Premiere. A business version, SOHO Business, is also available.
avast! Free Antivirus

Known as the Essential version, Avast! Free Antivirus includes basic antivirus, anti-malware, anti-spyware and anti-rootkit protection. Note that this free version is permitted for single-computer home use only. A paid version is required in order to run the software on multiple computers.

avast! Internet Security

The all-inclusive version of the software — avast! Internet Security — has all the features of the free version, along with SafeZone for secure payments and banking; Silent Firewall to block hacker attacks, privacy breaches and other cybersecurity risks; and anti-spam to fight phishing attempts and other email scams. It also includes a Sandbox feature, which lets users safely run infected, potentially harmful or otherwise suspicious files in a virtual environment to prevent any viruses from spreading. avast! Internet Security starts at $39.99 a year for up to three years.
avast! Premiere

For full protection, the top-notch version — avast! Premiere — is considered the most powerful antivirus software Avast has to offer. It features extra capabilities, such as Automatic Software Updater, to automatically patch security holes in outdated software; AccessAnywhere for remote PC access; and Data Shredder, to permanently erase data using military-grade technology. avast! Premiere starts at $49.99 a year for up to three years.
SOHO Business

Avast also offers antivirus plans specifically for small businesses. The SOHO Business plan protects up to 10 computers and includes all of the aforementioned features, plus website isolation, security outside of the home network, centralized administration console and remote management. SOHO Business costs $39.99 a year for advanced protection and $49.99 a year for maximum protection.
AVG Antivirus

AVG is a popular antivirus and anti-malware software for PC, Mac, Android, iOS and Windows Phone devices. AVG offers two antivirus options for single computers. AVG AntiVirus Free 2014 features antivirus (viruses, spyware and malware), link protection that scans for malicious content in links and File Shredder to securely delete private files. A paid version, AVG Internet Security 2014 ($54.99 a year for one computer), includes advanced features, such as Online Shield to protect users from harmful downloads, Data Safe for file encryption and password-protection, and Anti-Spam and Firewall to combat hackers.

Like Avast, AVG also offers other antivirus software built especially for small businesses: AVG Antivirus Business Edition and AVG Internet Security Business Edition. Remote virus removal is also available.

AVG Antivirus Business Edition

AVG Antivirus Business Edition is a comprehensive antivirus software that protects PCs, laptops and servers. To protect PCs and laptops, this version uses Endpoint and Firewall Security to both fight viruses and block hacker access. It also uses File Server Security to go beyond computers and protect servers from attacks. Additionally, it offers Remote Endpoint Management, which allows users to administer the software within the network from a single location, as opposed to having to manage every single computer. AVG Antivirus Business Edition starts at $89.99 for two computers for up to two years.
AVG Internet Security Business Edition

AVG Internet Security Business Edition is just like the Antivirus Business Edition, but also includes Email Server Security. This keeps emails secure by protecting servers and inboxes from viruses and malicious attacks. This version is currently available for $94.49.
Remote Virus Removal

If you already have a virus, but don’t have the time to fix it yourself, AVG offers a virus removal service that allows the company to access and clean up your system using a remote connection. AVG will also install AVG Internet Security for continuous protection. Remote virus removal costs $129.99 and comes with a money-back guarantee.
Antivirus support

No technology is perfect. As a small business, you need an antivirus vendor that will be there for you when something goes wrong and you need support.

Avast antivirus offers free 24/7 toll-free phone and email support. Users can also request support by submitting a ticket or by asking questions in the Avast forum. A FAQ section is also available.

AVG, on the other hand, offers free business support by phone, chat and email. Users can also find support in the FAQ section or by accessing the AVG community forums.


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