Once ubiquitous, traditional anti-virus (AV) software has seen a sharp decline in popularity due to its limited protection capacity. However, recent innovations in the AV sphere, such as the adoption of machine learning algorithms and AI, have reinvigorated this product to protect companies against new threats.
AV software can be a highly effective piece in the security puzzle if it is deployed and configured correctly. As such, Cerdant has adapted how they leverage this tool to protect end-users better.
A Short History of AV Software
Early AV Solutions
The first global viruses, including the Melissa and the ILoveYou viruses, showed up in the late 1990s, and the early 2000s saw a sharp increase in malware attacks, including the now-infamous Nimbda worm as well as Code Red and SQL Slammer.
To help curtail the attacks, companies turned to personal firewalls and AV products. Though both of these products have a part to play in any well-rounded cybersecurity protocol, these early malware attacks highlighted the shortcomings of traditional AV software.
Traditional AV Loses Its Edge
As attack techniques evolved, the effectiveness of traditional AV software continued to decline, reaching a low in 2008 when some security circles proclaimed that signature-based AV was dead.
Signature-based AV has only ever been minimally effective at best, leaving organizations to struggle to prevent infections while also having to invest large quantities of time and people power into keeping large signature files up to date. Moreover, even a small mistake in the AVs code or signature database could crash endpoints, leading to extensive damage, frustrated users, and even more vulnerable networks.
How AV Has Evolved
To rectify the shortcomings and extensive overhead costs of signature-based AV providers have turned to other methods to distinguish between authorized and malicious software. This new approach may include an increased reliance on cloud-based analytics as well as machine learning and AI algorithms.
Preventing malware infections is no easy task, so some security vendors began developing technology that would both detect malware and investigate compromised endpoints, a technique called Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR).
EDR frequently relies on a variety of strategies, including Endpoint Protection Platform (EPP), which fights malware at the device level. EPP is a preventative measure that leverages a wide range of detection techniques and may incorporate some elements of traditional signature-based AV approaches. EDR uses the information gathered by the EPP to better protect both individual devices and entire networks against malware and other threats.
The Continued Importance of AV Protection
Though traditional signature-based AV has its limitations, modern AV software plays a critical role in any robust and well-rounded cybersecurity strategy. This new, layered approach to cybersecurity has many benefits, combining a variety of dependable tools to provide a multi-faceted defense against malware and other potential cybersecurity threats.
What Can I Do to Protect My Organization?
Too many organizations continue to rely on outdated AV software that depends on signature-based approaches, leaving their organizations vulnerable. Though some organizations have yet to update their AV due to budgetary concerns, others simply stick with what is familiar or aren’t aware that better solutions exist.
Many businesses have also done away with AV protection altogether based on the idea that AV as a product is dead and doesn’t bring anything of value to the cybersecurity table. Signature-based AV may provide limited protection, but a robust and layered approach can help organizations identify and stop threats.
Organizations need good AV solutions to safeguard their networks and digital assets. A machine learning or AI-based software that offers full EDR or EPP, such as Cylance Protect or Cylance Optics, is a robust solution that can be tailored to meet each organization’s individual needs.
Good AV is Only Part of the Solution
A multi-layered AV solution is vital, but a robust cybersecurity stance depends on more than just one product. Though many businesses have made the switch from signature-based to machine learning or AI-based AV, most stop there, leaving their organizations vulnerable. To enjoy true protection, organizations need to approach cybersecurity holistically.
Businesses need to take steps to protect all the layers of their network, and their business, as financially and operationally as possible. This includes ensuring that your organization:
- Uses an EPP or EDR system
- Has a robust firewall in place
- Has a solid email security solution
- Uses MFA (multi-factor authentication) or all external-facing accounts
Though there are other steps that can, and should, be taken, the items on this list should be your organization’s primary focus and represent the minimum steps required to help secure your organization from malware and other threats.
How Cerdant Continues to Evolve…
Cerdant continues to evolve to address the ever-changing cybersecurity landscape. This evolution has resulted in Cerdant identifying the need for AI-based AV as one of the primary defenders of our customer’s networks. As noted, in the past signature-based AV was a less than adequate form of protection for a business network, and Cerdant found it unnecessary to include it as one of the primary security tools in the Cerdant “toolbox”. After extensive research and testing of AI-based AV, Cerdant quickly realized the importance of these new solutions and how they could improve our customers’ defenses.
Machine learning and AI-based AV solutions are more complicated than their signature-based predecessors, and modern AV leverages a variety of tools to improve security.
One of the reasons machine learning and AI-based AV is more complicated than its predecessors is that it goes beyond scanning files to look for infected or malicious content. Instead, it uses tools to harden the machine, making it more difficult for cybercriminals to gain unauthorized access or infect systems and files, much like a vaccine helps train the body to better fight off infection in the future. Modern AV leverages a variety of tools to improve security, including:
- Memory protection
- Script control
- External device management (which controls what external USB devices are allowed to connect to the machine)
- Auto-quarantine programs (which isolate infected machines to prevent the spread of malware and viruses)
When configured and used correctly, modern AV can play a vital role in any organization’s cybersecurity solution. A multi-layered EPP or EDR solution can thwart potential attacks and harden your network and related devices against future attacks.
These enhanced features and capabilities mean that businesses must ensure they have the right expertise on staff to deploy these solutions effectively or look to an MSSP for assistance. Unfortunately, not all IT teams or MSSPs have a deep enough knowledge of these new tools and platforms, which may put them in a position where their AV is only able to “listen” for malware, not actually act to protect the network.
A Strategic & Tactful Approach
This lack of knowledge often leaves organizations both unimpressed with these newer solutions and vulnerable to cybersecurity threats. At Cerdant, we take a strategic and tactful approach to the installation and management of these AI-based AV solutions. First and foremost, Cerdant thrives on making sure our staff is trained appropriately and can not only support but also deploy these solutions to their maximum capabilities.
We Work With You To Understand Your Needs
We work side by side with our customers to familiarize ourselves with their environment, needs, wants, and wishes for the solution. Cerdant then takes a phased approach to deploying the solutions, involving the customer every step of the way. When the deployment is complete, not only are the endpoints secure and protected, but the organization also understands what its solution is configured to do for them. The adoption of what is now a highly effective endpoint security solution combined with the mindful approach to deployment, security, and customer service has allowed us to expand our customers’ security significantly.
When configured and used correctly, modern AV can play a vital role in any organization’s cybersecurity solution. An AI-based AV can thwart potential attacks and harden your network and related devices against future attacks.