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Edge Security

What is Next-Gen Antivirus?

August 01, 2023

8 minutes

Fingers on laptop with holographic locks on a map hovering above.

Next-generation antivirus (NGAV) software utilizes a combination of cutting-edge technology, such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, to effectively identify and eliminate threats to your business.

In order to achieve this, NGAV software takes an algorithmic approach to device protection that examines processes, data, application usage, network activity, and user behavior to help spot unusual activity.

In contrast, a traditional antivirus relies on programmers to identify an attack after it’s hit and reactively patch the vulnerabilities in your platform with an update.

The main difference here is that next-gen antivirus software's are proactive, whereas legacy antivirus systems are very reactive. You can greatly enhance your organizations cybersecurity posture today by embracing the defensive power of NGAV.

How effective is your current approach to cybersecurity? Use our checklist, How Covered is Your Business, to help you identify the weak points in your security strategy and what technologies, tools, and policies you need to stay secure. Access the checklist here.

Understanding How NGAV Works

Next-gen antivirus is the next evolution in antivirus software that aims to protect businesses from cybercriminals. It uses a combination of modern technology, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to improve threat detection efficiency, incident response time, and length of recovery.

Next-generation antivirus is a more proactive approach to cybersecurity that can identify network usage trends and learn from past breaches, attacks, and vulnerabilities to improve security protocols moving forward.

NGAV also makes use of investigative tools that allow the software to analyze the structure, behavior, and programming logic of threatening programs before they’re executed on your systems.

Why Next-Gen Antivirus is Crucial for Businesses

Since the pandemic there has been a sharp and steady rise in both the number and severity of cyberattacks. From ransomware attacks that encrypt your most valuable files and sensitive information, to phishing attacks designed to access and steal personal employee information like social security numbers, bank information, or private work logins.

The surge in cyberthreats aimed at small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) has made next-gen antivirus a necessity. Not only have cyberattacks become much more frequent, but the complexity of the attacks has also become more sophisticated.

Some of the most popular cyberattacks include: phishing, ransomware, malware, spyware, zero-day, and there are always more under development.

Staying ahead of cybercriminals is a tremendous challenge for businesses of all sizes but especially difficult for SMBs without strong cybersecurity strategies, policies, and practices in place.

With cybercrime on the rise, one thing is for sure: the traditional "set it and forget it" approach that legacy antivirus software takes simply is not enough anymore.


Why NGAV is a Better Solution Than Legacy Antivirus Software

Modern cybercriminals are smart. So smart that they’ve invented new attacks specifically designed to defeat older systems with known flaws that, if old enough, are no longer being actively patched and fixed. These new threats know exactly what vulnerabilities to target, can quickly identify system weaknesses, and proceed to easily infiltrate a business’ network.

Additionally, business systems are becoming much more complex than legacy antivirus software was originally designed to defend. Now we have remote workers (logging in from multiple devices on different networks), cloud-based data, more connected devices, the internet of things, and a slew of other tech-based solutions that organizations employ.

Traditional antivirus takes a signature-based approach, meaning it scans files for identifiers that match known viruses. However, modern-day attackers know how to disguise malicious code to bypass these defenses. Using new techniques, cybercriminals can introduce malware without adding new files onto a system or through code that periodically changes to remain undetected by signature-based detection methods.

NGAV software focuses on using network events to identify malicious intent, behavior, and activity when compared to the typical network activity on any given day.

Benefits of NGAV

The biggest difference between traditional antivirus and next-generation: next-gen proactively (as opposed to reactively) protects you.

The number of endpoints existing within the network of an SMB is consistently growing and is now much higher than it was just years ago. Simply put, a traditional antivirus can’t keep up.

A next-gen antivirus solution looks for file signatures similarly to a traditional antivirus, but it also detects attacks by scanning for events, processes, and connections to seek out inconsistencies and irregularities within your network.

This makes it significantly harder for modern attacks to successfully get into your network.

NGAV software is a modern tool for modern cyberthreats. It takes system security above and beyond anything a legacy antivirus software could offer. One of the biggest benefits of investing in NGAV security is that it’s capable of detecting both known and unknown threats.

Through its use of sophisticated technologies, like machine learning and AI, NGAV programs can successfully identify new-aged malware even if it uses a disguising protocol to hide its identifiable features in the programming.

Significantly improved efficiency is another major benefit that NGAV programs bring to your organization. This efficiency stems from a few different sources which include more readable reports, cloud-based services that allow for super quick downloads, automatic updates, and seamless system integration.

High-quality next-generation antivirus programs also minimize downtime and dwell time in the event of a successful cyberattack.

Here are a few more ways that a modern NGAV program takes cybersecurity to the next level:

  • Machine Learning: An automated process in which a bot scans files for malware.
  • Behavior Analysis: Processes are monitored in order to detect abnormalities that could be the result of cyberattacks.
  • Threat Intelligence: When a threat is detected, every device on the network is updated to help counter additional danger and to stop the spread.


Do You Need Next-Gen Antivirus?

The world of cybersecurity in business is changing, if your antivirus isn’t changing with it then your business is in danger. Since the start of the pandemic in 2020, hackers have identified SMBs as a prime target for attacks because a majority of these businesses have outdated antivirus solutions and subpar cybersecurity postures.

Many SMBs are under the dangerous assumption that cyberattacks are mostly aimed at large corporations, which couldn’t be further from the truth.

Not only are SMBs targeted to virtually the same degree as enterprise organizations, but they don’t have the resources or financial capability to recover in the event of a serious breach. Unfortunately, this means many SMBs are unequipped to protect themselves.

One of the main challenges SMBs face in the modern world is endpoint security. Rather than having a handful of computers accessing a network, modern businesses have hundreds of phones, tablets, laptops, and other smart devices connected to their systems every day.

So many potential points of attack present a serious security issue for many businesses and emphasizes the need for a proactive cybersecurity approach that includes a modernized antivirus solution.

What if the Costs of Next-Gen Antivirus are too High for a Business?

For many businesses, the costs of a sophisticated NGAV program might seem out of reach.

Between hiring an entire internal security team, outfitting and maintaining modern equipment, and the necessity of sophisticated applications, the costs add up quickly.

Partnering with a managed security services provider (MSSP) like DOT Security means you get access to the hardware, software, and professionals you need for a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy at a fraction of the cost it would take to build one in-house.

DOT Security expert cybersecurity teams include the following positions:

  • Cybersecurity Analysts (CSA) help to execute security assessment tasks and analyze the results to help build your tailored strategy. They also perform daily monitoring and deploy solutions.
  • Cybersecurity Engineers (CSE) are responsible for establishing solutions and implementing the strategies.
  • Cybersecurity Developers (CSD) help develop and maintain managed IT security (MITSec) and work with businesses to improve and automate their processes.
  • Compliance Managers are in charge of developing solutions and strategies to help your business incorporate compliance into MITSec.
  • Virtual Chief Information Security Officers (vCISO) act as your point of contact and is responsible for building a strategy tailored specifically to you and your business.

A fully-fledged team made up of experts in these positions, consistent training, and access to the necessary tools and software can make obtaining high-end cybersecurity an expensive feat to build in-house.

This is just one reason why many organizations are choosing to partner with MSSPs for their cybersecurity needs.

By partnering with an MSSP you can also rest assured that your system defenses aren’t relying on outdated, legacy antivirus programs and are instead using the most sophisticated NGAV programs available on the market.

Choosing Your NGAV and Cybersecurity Solutions

Keeping up with the latest cybersecurity threats can be difficult for businesses that don’t have large internal IT or cybersecurity teams. This is dangerous because cybercriminals are always adapting the way they attack networks and without updated defenses and modern next-gen antivirus solutions, businesses are leaving themselves vulnerable to all sorts of new attacks.

To see how covered your business is from modern cyberattacks, check out our new checklist which will help walk you through the required security elements businesses should have to stay secure. Access the checklist now.