The consequences of not taking cyber security seriously are, for most business owners, too dire to contemplate. Suffering a serious breach, such as theft of users’ financial details from an ecommerce site, can have serious long-term consequences for a business – both in terms of reputation and financial health. According to the Federation of Small Businesses, in a report compiled in partnership with the British Government, its members lose around £785m every year to cyber crime.
Consequently, a business owner needs to make sure they have the best possible anti-virus software guarding their IT infrastructure. Indeed, “What anti-virus software do you recommend at the moment?” is a question that those with information security jobs are often asked. Here then are some quick tips for business owners on the lookout for strong security software.
First and foremost, the software should have an excellent detection rate – that is, the ability to detect incoming threats, whether they are from malware lurking on an internet site or a dubious email attachment. A security software vendor’s detection rates can be found from any number of comparison reviews. The trick here is to watch for trends. A security package which scores brilliantly one month may be flash in the pan. Instead, watch out for the vendors who score highly on detection over extended periods.
Next, check that any accompanying software firewall is both incoming and outgoing. What this refers to is an ability not only to prevent unwarranted intrusions, but also to prevent malicious activity coming out of your computer. A good outbound firewall might spot that a computer has been taken over by malware by intercepting outgoing activity, and issuing a strong warning. Also, make sure that any software firewall package is sufficiently customisable and easy to edit. Companies often have specific firewall requirements and do need to be able to create exceptions easily.
Another important feature is a far-reaching and flexible scanning system. Being able to scan a computer disk in real time is taken for granted. Sometimes, however, when a system appears vulnerable, it’s important to be able to scan at boot time (before the operating system loads), as well as to be able to scan from a boot disk (CD or USB). Indeed, a boot disk that is easy to build, and which can be populated with the latest virus definitions, is a real plus, and companies vary greatly in their ability to do a good job in this area. Being able to scan a system without having to boot into it is at times essential.
Finally, the way in which anti-virus software impacts on a computer’s performance is a crucial, if not a determining, purchasing factor. The last thing you want is for the computers in your business to be grinding to a halt due to over-zealous security software. Do look out for programmes that currently strike a sound balance between dragging down performance and providing strong protection.