What Is Next-Gen Antivirus and Why Do You Need It?
Despite increasing numbers of cyberattacks, many SMBs lack a modern antivirus solution. How can next-gen antivirus help protect you?
Oct 03, 2022
What Is Next-Gen Antivirus? (Definition):
Next-gen antivirus uses a combination of modern technology including machine learning and artificial intelligence to more effectively identify and remove threats.
This is achieved by taking an approach that focuses on behavior—NGAV uses algorithms that examine processes, data, application use, network activity, and end-user behavior to understand atypical activity which can then be assessed.
This differs from traditional antivirus in that with traditional AV, programmers typically identify an attack after it’s hit, before then patching it and rolling out the patch to users via an update through their platform.
The key difference is that next-gen antivirus is proactive while traditional antivirus is reactive.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, 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 securitiy 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 Key Takeaways
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
Why Is Next-Gen Antivirus Important Today?
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 in recent years, and likely to continue if current trends remain the same as looks likely.
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 cybercriminals.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Businesses Need Tools Like NGAV But Struggle With Costs
Organizations today are more prone to cyberattacks than they’ve ever been, and as we mentioned earlier, many businesses lack any kind of strategy for their cybersecurity, despite the fact they’re more vulnerable than ever.
Why is this?
There are a variety of reasons, one of which is simply the cost of putting together and maintaining a technology stack and team for security.
If a business were to partner with Impact for their cybersecurity, they’d receive a team consisting of:
Cybersecurity Analyst (CSA)
Execute assessment tasks and curate/analyze resulting data
Perform daily monitoring tasks for deployed cybersecurity solutions
Cybersecurity Engineer (CSE)
Responsible for final assessment solution implementation
Cybersecurity Developer (CSD)
Develop and maintain custom managed IT security (MITSec) assessment and pricing tools
Work with the organization to improve and automate the MITSec process
Develop solutions and strategies to incorporate compliance into MITSec
Define team members and services to address client compliance concerns
Acts as the point-of-contact for the client
Responsible for developing a tailored strategy for the client and ensuring overall satisfaction
Now consider how much it would cost to hire each one of these professionals in-house and then further consider the big skills shortage in the cybersecurity job market, and we have a situation where cybersecurity becomes extremely expensive to operate in-house.
In other words, no company is too small to fall victim to attack.
This puts the onus on small businesses to ensure they are well-prepared for a potential attack, and this can be achieved by investing in modern tools like next-gen antivirus.
While investment is great, it cannot alone be relied on, and companies should be conscious that maintaining expertise is just as important and key to a successful cybersecurity strategy.
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 the last year, 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.