TL; DR: With the recent acquisition of AVG by Avast came an expanded analytical footprint — one that facilitates award-winning security measures for SMBs. The 2016 release of AVG Internet Security Business Edition offers a multi-layered approach that effectively mitigates threats to SMBs’ data and proprietary information. New features, such as an improved Online Shield, Data Safe, and File Shredder, coupled with an intuitive management interface, allow SMBs to seamlessly protect their online environments from malicious intent without compromising the performance of devices.
A recent study conducted by Ipsos found that one in 10 firms with annual revenue under $10 million and one in four earning more than $10 million annually will fall victim to a cyber attack. The goal of this malicious intent is easy to see: money and data. That is scary news for SMBs.
It is estimated that up to $450 billion will be taken by cyber criminals by the end of this year, according to an article by ThinkAdvisor. And along with those billions go intellectual property, Social Security numbers, and information that facilitates future attacks.
Verizon’s 2016 Data Breach Digest notes that these breaches in security can come from a multitude of sources such as POS intrusions, web app attacks, malware, and human errors compromising security. Malware accounts for 50% of cyber attacks, and another 20% of security breaches come from human factors, such as falling victim to email phishing schemes.
“Ransomware is, unfortunately, having a big impact on SMBs,” said Ryan Valle, Avast’s Product Management Lead. “Most of the focus of malicious intent is being placed on data. Whether it be credit cards or proprietary information, data is almost always the end goal.”
Ryan noted that for SMBs to protect their data, a multi-pronged solution must be implemented to defend against the varied cyber threats they face.
AVG Internet Security Business Edition fills that need by employing a multi-layered approach using signature- and crowd-based protections and leveraging heuristic and behavioral components to identify and deflect threats in the security matrix.
AVG Business Edition’s complete tool set continually works unnoticed in the background to mitigate breaches while maximizing device performance. And AVG’s acquisition by Avast has expanded their footprint, giving them a wider dataset from which to analyze new potential threats and provide the answers that SMBs need to secure their online environments.
“Security is forever changing and we pride ourselves on providing peace of mind,” Ryan said. “We have the security precautions to allow businesses to simply compute.”
Multi-Layered Approach to Delivering Security in a Changing Market
With data as the focal point of online malicious activity, a multi-layered, comprehensive approach provides the most effective mitigation to protect the most sensitive aspects of SMBs: their data and proprietary information.
“At Avast, we look to layer the different protections that are required, not only to protect data from online malware activity but also from ransomware that is spread primarily through email,” Ryan said. “And we have components here that protect those email aspects, identifying and getting phishing and junk email out of inboxes, providing an additional layer of protection.”
This is big for SMBs who have multiple employees on their networks, as 70% of the breaches created by human factors are spread via email, according to Verizon’s study.
AVG Business Edition employs a 3-pronged approach to providing security through their engine. Because their labs can analyze enormous volumes of data to build new signatures, Avast can push out protections for new types of threats to their signature-based detection component.
The second aspect important in Avast’s approach utilizes heuristic and behavior components.
“If something is loaded into memory and tries to make changes to the environment and really start to impact a device, our AV solution can leverage that,” Ryan said. “The heuristic and behavioral component can identify and trap that type of threat.”
What really has Ryan excited is the third crowd-based component to Avast’s approach to security. Their dataset has expanded due to their acquisition by Avast, and, as a result, they have grown their security offerings significantly.
“Feeding all of this information, we have one of the largest footprints from a security vendor standpoint,” he said. “Both the SMB and consumer sides are contributing to the overall security knowledge that we bring in. We’re leveraging that information to further secure all devices.”
Best in Business-Class Security: 4 Noteworthy Features in 2016
AVG Internet Security Business Edition’s 2016 offering makes their multi-layered approach possible through an extensive tool suite. New this year are features, such as Online Shield, Data Safe, and File Shredder, that work together harmoniously to protect data, prevent dangerous downloads, and delete data users don’t want recovered.
These new features coupled with an intuitive management interface allow SMBs to seamlessly safeguard their networks against threats.
Online Shield: Identifies Dangerous Downloads
Timing is everything when it comes to identifying and thwarting a breach. AVG Business Edition’s 2016 package includes an improved Online Shield that offers cloud-based detection to immediately identify downloads that may be unsafe.
Files are checked before they are downloaded and become threats. And users exchanging files using file transfer services are protected against inadvertently downloading malware.
Data Safe: Secures Files and Folders
A company’s integrity depends on maintaining secure client data. AVG Business Edition now includes a Data Safe that keeps company and client data out of the hands of cyber criminals.
With Data Safe, businesses can create password-protected, encrypted folders to lock down their files. Data Safe acts as a storage bin for the data businesses want secured. The encrypted files in Data Safe can be accessed as a standard disk drive and copied to other devices running AVG.
File Shredder: Deletes Sensitive Documents
Most savvy businesses know that deleting information does not necessarily make it disappear forever. AVG Business Edition’s file shredder deletes data securely and permanently, ensuring they cannot be collected elsewhere.
Files that have been deleted with the File Shredder cannot be recovered, even with the use of advanced disk utilities. Once they’re gone, they’re gone.
GUI: Centralized and Intuitive to Make Management Easy
It is important to see the big picture and know where vulnerabilities lie and swiftly address them. AVG Business Edition’s graphical user interface simplifies giving users visibility and power over their data.
“The centralized management that we offer provides instant information and the ability to respond,” Ryan told us.” And from a security aptitude standpoint, timing is critical to allow SMBs to take action against an emerging threat.”
Visually, the dashboard draws the eye of the user to the areas within the environment that might need the most attention. This makes its use very intuitive and eases the ability to spot a problem and address it.
The management system is flexible and can be on-site or cloud-based, depending on the individual needs of a business.
“Reporting analytics is an important piece of centralized management because security is really founded in knowledge,” Ryan said.” The overall security of the environment is oftentimes represented in the reports on the management dashboard.”
The Challenge: Maximizing Performance Without Compromising Security
For SMBs, the goal is to maximize profitability and efficiencies, and a fundamental way to accomplish this is to increase the life and functionality of their devices through protection.
Oftentimes there’s a tradeoff between performance and security, but AVG Business Edition works to remedy this issue with tools that put performance in the forefront without compromising security.
“One thing is going to always lean one way or the other, but we’re always looking to provide the maximum level of protection while never letting performance suffer,” Ryan said. “We’re really minimizing any slowness related to downloads, frequently used applications, and copying files in and around the network.”
Ryan told us Avast’s tools are so proficient in minimizing impacts on performance because they employ smart scanning methods. For example, when a user requests access to a data, the AV engine scans that data.
Inactive files are put in the queue to be scanned so performance is not affected. When that user, say, takes a lunch hour, the engine scans and looks at the overall security of the device.
The process really takes into account when the device is being used and what is needed by the device at a given time.
“Signatures are placed on different files,” Ryan said. “If the signature hasn’t changed, meaning the file has not been copied or moved at all since the last scan, we know the file hasn’t been affected. These methodologies ensure performance is maintained, but security is never compromised.”
Avast frequently tests their product with independent test laboratories that look at the detection rates and efficacy of the product and its performance. The most recent score, Ryan told us, was a five out of six, which is well above the industry average in regard to maintaining a performance-security balance.
Expanded Analytical Footprint Leads the Way Forward for Security
Since AVG was acquired by Avast, excitement has been growing around the trajectory in which their portfolio of services is headed. Ryan noted Avast is looking to take the most fruitful components from each solution to form new solutions that enhance overall endpoint security.
Again, what really has them talking is their larger footprint.
“The analytics stemming from the overall footprint we now have at our disposal are really going to provide a much more flexible and streamlined approach to delivering and enhancing security,” Ryan said. “From these two organizations that have always had the passion for security, combining forces from that standpoint, we’ve already seen incredible things happen and expect more in the future.”
Though today’s global cyber threat matrix can be a frightening environment for SMBs to operate in, it is refreshing to know there are people like Ryan out there who are driven to protect them from malicious intent.