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Six questions to ask before choosing your anti-malware solution

Dec 17, 2019

Security vendors such as Kaspersky Lab report that they process as many as 360,000 new malicious file variants a day, making it clear that everyone who uses a computer for personal tasks and work still needs robust protection against viruses and malware. What’s more, malware attacks are growing ever more debilitating and sophisticated as cyber-criminals continue to up their game.

But choosing the right software solution to protect your PCs and mobile devices is easier said than done. There are myriad solutions on the market, ranging from free, bare-bones offerings to complex (and sometimes bloated) security suites that offer malware protection as just one of their features. Here are a few questions to ask your IT partner about the solutions they propose—also read up about these points in independent reviews of anti-malware products: 

1. How easy is the software to install and manage?

Though antivirus and anti-malware software has become simpler to use, install and configure in recent years, it’s a good idea to find out what level of specialist help and support you’ll need to deploy the solution. How long will it take to set up on an end-user’s device? How seamless are software patches, updates and background malware scans? These days, it should all be automated. Does supporting the product require any specialist skill and what level of support can you expect from the vendor?

2. What impact will it have on the end-user experience?    

One of end-users’ traditional computing bugbears is the way that a poor piece of anti-malware software can slow their computers down and prolong the time it takes to boot up. Security software usually demands a fair amount of computing resource to do its job, which can be a problem for people using older or entry-level PCs. Check on your vendor’s reputation for delivering software that minimises its impact on computing performance.

3. What add-on features and apps does it offer? 

Most security software vendors today offer a range of value-added products, with the anti-malware software as part of a broader solution suite. Depending on your needs, you be interested in a Web security gateway, firewall, host intrusion prevention, full disk encryption, backup tools, password wallets, and so on. Check how your vendor ranks for these applications—each suite has its strengths and weaknesses. Opting for a one-vendor solution may be more cost-effective as well as deliver a better user experience.

4. Does it offer reliable, multi-layered protection?

A good anti-malware solution must offer consistent protection against a complex range of threats, without causing undue bother for the IT team or end users. Some of the factors to consider include the following:

  • Does the vendor have a good track record for detecting a high rate of virus and malware variants?
  • Does it have features that help guard against new ‘zero day’ threats? For example, algorithms that are effective in detecting malicious behaviour, even when the malware threat has not yet been identified and added to its threat database.
  • Does it minimise false positives (misidentifying innocent programs as malicious)?
  • Is its malware definitions database updated frequently enough to keep up with new threats?
  • What sort of tools does it offer for removing infections from a device? 
  • Can it cover multiple channels, such as email, the Internet, FTP?
  • Does it play nicely with other apps and programs on your computer—i.e. no conflicts?
  • Can it cover the full range of modern threats, from viruses and trojans to ransomware, network attacks and spyware?

5. Is there a free trial available?

You can usually get a 30-day trial before you commit to buying a licence for your anti-malware software. This gives you some time to see if you like the software and how it runs on your machines. It’s also a sign that the vendor believes in the product—it feels confident that you’ll buy after you try.

6. What is the pricing model? 

This isn’t as simple as it sounds since many vendors offer more than one product bundle, depending on the length of the licence you purchase, how many users and devices you wish to secure and the additional features and apps you want to buy. It’s worth checking on how reasonable the renewal and cancellation policy is, and whether the software will cover several Windows, OS X and Android devices for a single price.

ENDS.

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