Is Antivirus Protection Enough?

Antivirus Software is important but don’t be fooled, it’s not the total IT security solution. One of the biggest challenges that any computer user must face is the idea of guarding her personal data and keeping her computer safe from viruses and other malicious software. The same especially holds true for business owners looking to safeguard company data and protect their company assets. When it comes to computer security, a healthy dose of paranoia can often be beneficial. Based on the number of hackers and cyber criminals out there, most people would be wise to proceed with caution when it comes to everyday activities, like surfing the net and clicking on email attachments from unknown sources.

One good way for a company to protect its computer systems is to install and use antivirus software. As the name implies, antivirus protection software works to detect viruses and stop them from infiltrating a computer or network. Considering the fact that most viruses tend to get downloaded accidentally, antivirus software can play an instrumental role in stopping them from actually taking effect. However, given the number of information security professionals in the information technology (IT) marketplace, one might assume that these people aren’t employed for the simple, sole purpose of installing and maintaining antivirus protection. Therefore, the question remains, will antivirus software alone keep your computer or network safe?

David Cochrane is the president of 30A.it, a national IT management firm that serves small to medium businesses throughout the country, and according to him, the answer is generally, no. While antivirus software can play a role in preventing virus attacks, this method of information protection comes with several limitations. One of the greatest single limitations inherent in antivirus software comes in the form of same-day viruses. Also known as zero-day attacks, same-day viruses are so new that nobody knows about them. Since antivirus software works by analyzing and detecting patterns in viruses, it may not protect computers from viruses that it doesn’t know. In some instances though, it will still catch same-day viruses based on behavioral patterns.

Another limitation of antivirus protection is the fact that it either does not update itself often enough, or users don’t always take the time to update their software accordingly. While most types of antivirus software are programmed to update automatically, different programs are set to varying default update times, some of which are not frequent enough. While users do have the ability to manually update software in between scheduled updates, most either don’t think to do so, or don’t want to be bothered. Of course, the problem with depending on scheduled updates is that a new virus can easily be unleashed during the interim, thereby exposing users to viruses that antivirus software can’t yet detect. Additionally, virus updates may also be missed if the computer is turned off or not connected to a network that provides access to retrieve these updates.

The final limitation of antivirus software is that it is only designed to protect users against viruses. However, viruses are not the only threat to information security. Hackers and malware (programs that attempt to steal information from users) can constitute just as much of a threat to a computer or network as even the most vicious of viruses. While hacking into a computer or network requires a significant, active effort on the part of on outsider, an innocent user will usually be the one to introduce malware to his computer. Malware programs entice users by prompting them to click on links that are put out on the Internet. Once a user falls victim to such a trap, the malware can start downloading, at which point it will quickly begin to take advantage of any system that is already vulnerable to bugs.

While antivirus protection can certainly play a significant role in protecting computers and networks from viruses, the installation of the software really only represents one step in the process of safeguarding systems and information. Therefore, most businesses do require extra security measures in order to protect their assets accordingly. If you’re a business owner and have been walking around thinking that your antivirus software is doing enough, then think again. Remember, the technological world is full of people who will stop at nothing to gain access to your company’s information, or take active steps to destroy it, perhaps for no good reason whatsoever. The best way to protect your business is to bring in professionals like us who are well-versed in information security and let us do what we do best. After all, when it comes to your computers, networks, and company data, there’s no such thing as too much security.

Author: David Cochrane
Microsoft Certified Professional, CompTIA Network+
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