There are various methods to protect your computer from malware and other malicious attacks. Identifying the hardware, techniques, and software that work best for your organization is essential to having a system that can manage your entire business environment. Failing to do so can be risky: per a survey done by Ponemon Institute, the average cost of a data breach for U.S. organizations was around $7 million in 2016.
Based upon your organization’s unique needs, different antivirus and firewall solutions can offer distinct features that can enhance cyber defense controls, reducing the threat of a potential breach.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) divides firewalls into three basic categories:
- Stateful Inspection
Packet-filter firewalls, also called network layer firewalls, inspect incoming and outgoing traffic through a network. The firewall uses predefined rules to analyze information to determine if the packet is malicious, acting as a gatekeeper into the network. Network layer firewallsill only allow packets to pass that are acceptable based on the programmed rules.
Application layer firewalls work similarly to network layer firewalls but instead deeply inspect each packet for discrepancies between the content and packet header. A header is the information about the packet including its source and destination. Application layer firewall is an effective way to reduce the risk of a Worm or a Trojan Horse penetrating the network.
A proxy firewall is similar to an application layer firewall, but goes one step farther. Instead of deeply inspecting every packet sent through the network, applications form their own connection to the proxy before sending or receiving packets through external networks such as the Internet. This prevents a direct connection from applications to the network and determines what will be sent through the network and what will be discarded.
Stateful inspection, or dynamic packet-filtering, is a newer firewall technology that is slowly beginning to replace prior standards. In traditional packet-filtering, only the header is examined by the firewall for discrepancies in the information contained in the packet.
Stateful inspections track the state of connections in the network, logging the packet’s origin and destination information. Additionally, stateful inspections can record the IP address, port number, and connection status of the origin and destination to provide a more in depth level of security and visibility. This prevents the use of unauthorized ports or devices, which are common targets.
Signature-based detection scans the hardware and memory for traces of malware based on matching the signatures of known viruses. If a known signature is detected in a file, the software will isolate and remove the infected file. The limitation of this feature is that it can only recognize known malware in its database.
While a firewall may prevent malware such as a virus from entering a network, antivirus software can identify then erase malware on a computer before it infects critical systems. There are several methods used by modern antivirus software to detect and remove malware. In some cases, hardware can also be utilized as an extra security gateway.
Advanced security modules and hardware provide similar protection against malware and viruses to software with extra protection and monitoring. Security hardware is expensive but incorporates a wide variety of state of the art security measures such as multi-layered security and real time monitoring.
Heuristic Antivirus Software
Heuristic antivirus software can go one step further and detect variants of existing malware. This is important because malware is continually evolving to find new ways to stay undetected. Most modern antivirus software utilizes both methods.
When selecting an antivirus software for your organization, there are a few features that are recommended. Most will offer real-time protection, or a real-time scanner, which will continually monitor network data, allowing malware to be intercepted immediately.
Another important feature that businesses should implement is a program with centralized administration. This allows a single person in an organization to ensure devices are updated and being monitored. In many cases, computers become infected because they fail to utilize or disable the antivirus software. Keeping antivirus software updated is critical because of the continual evolution of malware. This ensures new strains and varieties of viruses can be recognized and identified by the software.
It should be kept in mind that not all antivirus programs offer email monitoring which can be a vulnerability for some organizations. Finally, some programs offer reporting tools that could be necessary for the type of business you are conducting. Certain security audits require proof of continuous monitoring.
The Choice is Yours
Using security applications can greatly mitigate the risk of becoming infected and can prevent a data breach from occurring. Additionally, they can prevent system outages, prevent recovery costs resulting from infected hardware, and prevent the loss of sensitive customer or company information. A-LIGN can help you prevent attacks by advising the proper security applications that best suit your organization and its needs.
For more information regarding security applications, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-888-702-5446 to have an experienced cyber risk professional answer your questions.