Endpoint Antivirus Software: What It Is, and Why You Need It

The threat landscape can be a frightening scene when you look at the malicious attacks and ransomware infiltrating organizations around the globe. The good news: Endpoint antivirus applications are making enormous strides in their ability to protect enterprise-level equipment and data from attack. The bad news: Many companies overlook the need to secure non-Windows infrastructure and focus their antivirus security efforts only on individual user workstations. This is typically because they assume user machines will be the entry points for invaders. This isn’t always the case.

What is Endpoint Antivirus Software? 

Endpoint antivirus software is used to provide virus protection to endpoints, such as servers or workstations, that connect to enterprise networks. Endpoint protection and endpoint security are often used interchangeably, but the basic principle is the same. Endpoint antivirus software plays an important role in endpoint security by helping to ensure the corporate network and critical systems are safeguarded from viruses and malware, which is one of the most common types of attack.

The fact is servers and other equipment are ripe for the picking when it comes to intrusion. In recent months, there has been a surge in Linux-based malware directed at Internet of Things systems, and cryptocurrency mining was the biggest growth area for cyber-crime during 2017. The Windows-based antivirus software many companies rely on simply wasn’t designed for servers running Linux, AIX, and IBM i. Using it for other environments isn’t nearly as effective at threat prevention as endpoint solutions. Let’s look at why.   

What Does Endpoint Antivirus Software Do?

Because most businesses have varied technology stacks that run some combination of Windows, Linux, AIX, and/or IBM i, it’s important to approach security with a holistic view that goes beyond Windows scanning to protect other platforms against viruses, worms, and malware threats.

At a high level, endpoint antivirus solutions help you:

  • Keep data safe from viruses: Avoid the chance of a security breach causing major business disruption by detecting and removing threats.
  • Stay one step ahead: Leverage a comprehensive set of virus signatures that automatically stays current with the latest virus definitions and enhancements to keep your organization safe.
  • Detect emerging issues: Go one step beyond using virus signatures to detect new viruses before they make the news.


The Importance of Native OS Scanning

Remember that no operating system is immune from the threat of malware. In fact, Linux and UNIX systems can host and spread Windows viruses. These servers can become infected, and then any data or file they come into contact with will likely also become infected— even without showing symptoms. A good example of this was a company that recently contracted a viral infection in the program that checks for updates to their terminal emulation software. Every time a PC connected, the server would re-infect it. The cycle went on until they finally decided to scan the backend server and discovered what had been eluding their network-oriented scan functions.

Native scanning capabilities are essential for each operating system. Non-native scanning programs require unnecessary file shares and a work station logged onto the server throughout the scanning process. Unencrypted data is also transferred between the server and work station, needlessly exposing information. Endpoint antivirus applications eliminate these security vulnerabilities and provide faster and more stable scanning.

Compliance with Regulatory Mandates

Many companies have to meet stringent compliance requirements for their particular industry or to operate legally in various geographies. Having endpoint antivirus in place enables you to achieve compliance with mandates, including:

  • PCI DSS Requirement 5: If you deal with payment card information, PCI DSS requires that all ‘in scope’ servers in your network have virus protection.
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA): Succinctly put, HIPAA requires those dealing with protected health information to guard its confidentiality and integrity at all times by securing it against reasonably anticipated threats and implementing security measures that reduce risk.
  • Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA): This requires the protection of nonpublic personal information against any anticipated threats to the records.

What’s interesting about these regulations is they make it clear threats to information are commonplace and to be expected. It’s simply become an unfortunate part of our lives in the digital age. Because of this, it’s important to have the right tools to proactively scan for the latest threats and remove them quickly. The ability to report on compliance with these and other regulations is a key piece of the right solution.

Antivirus Security Is Crucial to Your Defense

A recent survey of U.S. companies found an average time of 206 days to discover a data breach. The costs related to data breaches correlate with the time required to discover them. The longer it takes to find them, the costlier they are, and the more devastating the impact to your business—and potentially your customers.