Antivirus vs Endpoint Protection

by | Apr 27, 2022 | IT Security

Understanding how different cybersecurity applications protect a business network is essential to the network security decision making process. It helps settle how much gets invested into security and why. But often security gets shorted because there is not full awareness of the similarities and distinctions is between various security implements. One of these is understanding why antivirus is not enough, and endpoint protection is a must. While it is true that they both serve similar purposes, it is very important to the security of the business and its data to understand where these two types of protection overlap, and where they do not.

The difference between antivirus and endpoint protection security.

Endpoint security has antivirus as part of its internal mechanics, after all, so one might regard endpoint protection as nothing more than antivirus repackaged, like a gimmick that pressures customers to upgrade. But while antivirus is definitely an element in endpoint security, it is by no means the only part of it that manages security. To understand it, it helps to know the evolution of network protection and the growing number of malware species that are out there.

How Antivirus Operates

Antivirus has been around for more than twenty years. Malware developed as a technique for taking advantage of the growing internet and antivirus software developed in response by identifying viruses and malware, creating a program that logs the identifying markers, and computers using the antivirus software would depend on the antivirus being updated regularly with whatever new species of malware might be out there. It is a good method for keeping end user machines guarded against known threats, which is why antivirus is still an important part of network security.

The malware industry, however, did not take long to grow into a prosperous place funded by ransomware and nation-state sponsors. Attack techniques continued to evolve. Traditional, signature-based detection antivirus programs no longer kept up with the frequency of new attack vectors as they were developed and deployed. In other words, a defense software installed in the end user machine, which depends on being updated with new information about new threats in order to protect the machine, remains useless against Zero-day attacks. So antivirus continued to be a very important element to end user machine protection, continuing to thwart known malware with easily-identifiable signatures, but it just could not keep up with the rate and evasiveness of new threats, as they developed, to make antivirus be able to provide complete protection. That is when Endpoint Protection came into play.

How Endpoint Protection Operates

Endpoint protection’s relationship with end users is like a command central security hub in relation to the large network of computers it supports. Endpoint Protection is a cloud service that connects to all the networks it protects. Its command center is on the job 24/7/365, searching and documenting new threats the moment that they are seen in the wild. This new technique takes advantage of cloud-based analytical capabilities. When it identifies and evaluates a new threat, it seeks to protect all the endpoints from the threat immediately. Furthermore, “EP” is able to monitor much of the support software used by business networks, and oversees vulnerability and patch monitoring as well.

So if your business network is protected by antivirus software alone, then you have some good protection against host of malware, but not always the newest threats. Bear in mind that threat actors also scan the interwebs for vulnerable networks that they feel they can exploit. For that reason as well, having an endpoint protection and response solution (EDR) in place can prevent that network from being the next attack target. Moreover, there are four elements to a completely secure network: endpoint security, firewall, DNS filtering, and email protection. If all four of these elements are implemented, you can have confidence that your business network is safe and secure.

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