What Is Next-Gen Antivirus?
What you need to know about next-gen antivirus:
The majority of SMBs lack the ability to defend themselves
Traditional and legacy antivirus doesn’t utilize modern tech to fight today’s threats
Next-gen antivirus uses technology like machine learning to adapt to evolving cyberattacks
Next-Gen Antivirus Update: December 2020
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic this year, we’ve seen a sharp rise in the number and severity of cyberattacks from criminals looking to take advantage of people’s fears and anxieties regarding the pandemic.
These are consistently being perpetrated via the use of phishing, a technique that involves tricking unsuspecting users into handing over sensitive information, such as their Social Security, bank information, or work login.
McAfee’s November 2020 security report indicates an increase in virtually every single attack vector in 2020, compared to 2019. Malware is the most common form of attack, accounting for 35% of all attacks.
To read more about how criminals are fooling users, take a look at our blog post about how hackers are using Microsoft Sway to create convincing landing pages that would catch out even the most astute of us.
Attacks like these are unfortunately just the tip of the iceberg. It’s crucial that SMBs in particular remain vigilant to the dangers of cyberattacks and take every measure to ensure they don’t become a victim, including using next-gen antivirus.
Next-gen antivirus has never been more necessary.
Malware has become more sophisticated in recent years as a constant battle rages on between hackers and IT security professionals. This has become even more pronounced in 2020, and likely to continue through 2021 if current trends stay the same.
In recent years, traditional vectors that consumers and businesses have become wary of have been usurped by ever-more popular attack vectors, primarily vectors like ransomware and phishing, which have exploded in popularity as top choices for cyber criminals.
Staying ahead of these cybercriminals has been a challenge, particularly for small and medium-sized businesses that are targeted in larger numbers than ever, but are likely to lack a clear strategy for dealing with cybercrime. Clearly, the traditional set-it-and-forget-it antivirus approach is not suited for the future of cybersecurity.
Enter next-gen antivirus. This is the latest step in the ongoing battle against rapidly advancing malware and strategies used by hackers to attack users around the world.
But what is next-gen antivirus other than yet another buzzword in business technology?
Meeting New Demands
Next-gen antivirus uses advanced technology to provide a more comprehensive and proactive approach to malware protection.
With the increasing number of connected devices in every business, home, and pocket, there is a need to have antivirus protection on every device.
There are an estimated 31 billion connected IoT devices in 2020, up from 15 billion in 2015. By 2025, that is expected to exceed 75 billion.
But just installing regular antivirus software isn’t enough to provide the protection needed.
With technologies like machine learning, cloud scanning, and data analysis; next-gen antivirus takes the traditional antivirus experience and makes it fit to take on modern threats.
Software has become more automated with automatic remediation and a much more user-friendly experience for IT experts to monitor networks.
Instead of waiting for IT professionals to tackle a problem, next-gen antivirus programs are constantly learning, improving, and automatically providing solutions to evolving security threats.
Next-Gen Antivirus vs Traditional Antivirus
Most people are familiar with traditional antivirus software.
Plenty of people use this software in their own personal lives or in their business operations.
Traditional antivirus software is installed but often requires individual user direction in order to take action and be effective.
Perhaps the most succinct way to explain the difference is that traditional antivirus is reactive while next-gen antivirus is proactive.
68% of business leaders feel their cybersecurity risks are increasing
With traditional antivirus software, a user must initiate or schedule a scan of a device which can prove to be a time-consuming task.
Threats can only be discovered if the antivirus software is programmed to detect the infection and remediation must also be initiated by the user.
This isn’t necessarily bad, but it can prove to be an additional layer of challenge for users, especially as businesses introduce more endpoints into their environments.
Traditional antivirus also has the disadvantage of being unable to detect modern attack methods, such as:
- Memory-based attacks
- Remote logins
- PowerShell scripting language
- Macro-based attacks
Because these types of attacks don’t introduce files to a system, they go undetected by traditional antivirus software that look for file signatures.
In other words, traditional, legacy-style antivirus solutions are often lacking in the necessary capabilities to fend off modern security threats to SMBs.
The volume of endpoints that exist within SMBs today is drastically higher than it was even just a few years ago—largely thanks to the Internet of Things and the implementation of BYOD policies.
A traditional antivirus software simply can’t keep up and provide the protection needed for businesses needing security from modern threats.
A next-gen solution will not just look for file signatures, but also detect attacks by scanning events, processes, and connections to establish whether there’s an inconsistency in your network.
This makes it a lot harder for modern attack vectors to bypass your cybersecurity protections and much more difficult for attackers to gain access and snoop around your network.
Here are just a few examples of next-gen antivirus characteristics:
- Machine learning: Files are analyzed before use using an automated bot which can discover any malicious elements—all without any interruption to the user.
- Behavior analysis: Computer processes can be monitored in real-time and detect any abnormal behavior, terminating malicious processes.
- Threat intelligence: When a device encounters a threat, every other device under network will be updated to counter the danger without any need for manual input.
Why Do I Need Next-Gen Antivirus?
The landscape of business is changing and so should your antivirus solutions. Hackers have identified small- and medium-sized businesses as prime targets for attacks.
This is as a consequence of many decision makers laboring under the assumption that cybercriminals only go after large corporations—this couldn’t be further from the truth, and in fact those most at risk are SMBs who have neglected to reinforce their security capabilities.
It has been estimated that 60% of small businesses are unable to withstand significant data breaches. The costs, both monetarily and due to reputational damage, are insurmountable in many cases.
Security for businesses is not the same as it was even just a few years ago.
Dangers of the proliferation of devices
Instead of having a few devices with connections to the businesses’ important data, there could be hundreds of devices in use between laptops, tablets, smartphones, and other connected devices.
That’s a lot of potential points of attack for hackers and, worst of all, many traditional antivirus solutions may not identify a breach until well after it has occurred.
Fixing a problem after it has arisen is not an option for tackling cybersecurity issues; by the time you’ve been breached it’s too late.
Instead, businesses need proactive solutions that can grow and change as their needs change. This is the ultimate benefit of next-gen antivirus.
Small- and medium-sized businesses can offload the stress and responsibility of managing antivirus software updates, scans, and management to a next-gen solution that is designed to do all of the heavy lifting itself using advanced technology.
The Next-Gen Antivirus Wrap Up
Is next-gen antivirus the wave of the future? All signs seem to point to yes thanks to some essential features:
- Machine learning capabilities allow antivirus to be proactive rather than reactive
- Changing business needs require antivirus solutions that can be adaptable and flexible
- New technologies like cloud services require modern antivirus solutions
In light of the events of 2020, many organizations have found themselves playing catchup with their cybersecurity, trying to implement makeshift solutions to make up lost ground while their workforces are working remotely for the immediate future.
To find out more about how you can ensure your business’ cybersecurity is in good shape for now and for the future, download our eBook, “What Makes a Good Cybersecurity Defense for a Modern SMB?”.