The Evolution of Antivirus: Part One

In the past couple of years alone, the threat landscape has changed drastically. Viruses, Trojans, malware and similar programs are now a reality for modern businesses. Consequently, the need to vigilantly protect your clients’ endpoints from these threats is critical—and sometimes downright scary. With Halloween right around the corner, the conversation on where and how cyber attackers are haunting your clients’ systems is more timely than ever.

For many IT service providers, the shift in the threat landscape has led to a similar shift in how you define cybersecurity solutions. “Antivirus,” for instance, has become an outdated term. Antivirus is most commonly thought of as “a product that stops bad programs from infecting your device.” However, calling this “antivirus” is similar to calling every carbonated beverage “Coke.”

Security Is Not Just About Viruses Anymore

The original method of developing antivirus—having humans write signatures based on malware they’re analyzed—is practically obsolete today. While still used in some capacity, there are fundamental weaknesses to this approach, including the failure of users to update their signatures on a regular basis, and the fact that it takes time to catalog the 323,000+ new malware variants that emerge each day.

When it comes down to it, traditional antivirus software is only one of an assortment of virus-fighting tools on your computer. At this stage, IT service providers are thinking more seriously about how they’re offering security—which means that “securing” your clients’ endpoints with everything but the kitchen sink should be a tactic of the past. The time is now to shift to a comprehensive solution that covers all of your cybersecurity needs in the most efficient way possible. Let’s take a closer look at what this should entail.

Diagnosing Your Security Needs

It’s helpful to look at security through the eyes of a doctor. When diagnosing a patient and considering treatment, a doctor looks at a combination of things. They realize that someone with multiple factors (overweight, high cholesterol, family history) needs to be treated differently than someone with just one of those factors. This informs preventative measures, as well. For instance, if you have high cholesterol, you should take the proper medication. But, while this will lower your risk of a heart attack, it doesn’t mean you will not have one. Then comes the detection piece, which can be compared to feeling a tightness in your chest and a sore arm, causing you to go to the emergency room. The doctor’s treatment plan also reflects expectation setting—because even if you have a heart attack, you can’t blame your doctor who did everything they could to work to mitigate risk.

This analogy emphasizes the importance of employing a security solution that puts together unique security profiles that will fulfill each client’s individual needs and protect against multi-vector attacks. If MSPs focus their cybersecurity offering on solving clients’ individual security needs, they’ll have clear visibility into how the solution is running as well as any gaps in protection. This will also help them understand how those gaps are causing heightened risk for a security issue and be able to remediate it immediately.

Driving Efficiency with Endpoint Management

With traditional antivirus, there’s typically a laundry list of endpoint solutions involved—morphing security into a cost-driver rather than a revenue-driver because you’re not including only what is needed to protect against specific vulnerabilities. Ultimately, it’s not an efficient route.

MSPs and IT service providers need to think about how their security services can contribute to the future success of their business. Today, the market needs to embrace the evolution of antivirus into complete endpoint protection: a solution that provides layered security for comprehensive protection and, in turn, reduce costs to only items needed to fulfill client needs.

Click here to read part two, where we discuss the specific steps MSPs can take to effectively adapt to the market shift, enhance their endpoint management, and scale their business.


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