First off, let me state upfront that I will be using Anti-virus and Anti-malware software interchangeably even though they have two entirely different purposes.
Let me start by saying that a week does not go by where we don’t hear about another data breach or a hacking incident. Talking about cyber crime these days is like talking about the weather in San Diego (sorry, had to throw in an Anchorman movie reference and I grew up in San Diego). These incidents are affecting institutions that employ thousands of people with IT systems and processes that are rather sophisticated… ahem … most of the time, anyway. I am talking about Fortune 500 companies or certain government agencies such as the IRS, USPS and others.
As I try to educate some business owners in regulated industries (financial services, for instance). I often still hear from enterprising business owners, the following:
“I am secure and compliant. Thanks. ”
“No more PC software, please. I just bought Norton Anti-virus and I am fine.”
“All my data is in the cloud. So, who cares about my PC anyway. I have no data on it.”
“Its not my problem!”
Well, sorry to be a bit blunt here, AGAIN.
With all due respect, please do your research, or ask an expert. With all the processes and systems, if our government is NOT secure, guess what? As a growing enterprise, you are extremely vulnerable. And, please don’t say, it’s not going to be you because you are too small.
The Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology, says in the past two years there has been
“a relatively sharp increase in hackers and adversaries targeting small businesses.”
Now, if you are saying to yourself, I GET IT. I know that I could be hacked so that’s why I have the best anti-virus and anti-malware software installed on my devices and besides, all my data is in the cloud protected by a fortune 500 company.
You mean the type of company that has all the IT systems and processes that are rather sophisticated?! HINT – please see paragraph 1 (I hope you see the paradox depicted here). I will reserve my comments on this topic for another blog post…
Let’s not worry about things that are outside our control. Let’s start with what is. Now, let’s first establish the fact that end-point security is extremely important even with all your data in the cloud. (Please see my blog post here)
Here are 3 reasons why your anti-virus software is NOT enough to keep you and your PC or MAC devices secure.
1. Got UPDATES?
One of the most common issues, we see in the field is simply the fact that the installed anti-virus software has actually never been updated. The way anti-virus software programs work is that they scan your PC or MAC and pick up virus signatures. Now, the virus signature database needs to be updated in order to keep up with new viruses being written each day, around the world.
Now, what if your anti-virus software is up-to-date but by your OS is NOT? Well, that introduces other problems. If a virus or malware is able to stay undetected and exploit OS level weaknesses, it may be able to do other things so as to kill your anti-virus scanning process or change user level permissions.
Bottom-line, make sure your PC, MAC OS as well as your anti-virus software is updated.
2. POLY-WHAT VIRUSES?
There are just too many viruses out there. Ever hear about Polymorphic viruses or viruses that mutate. In simple terms, these viruses change their behavior and therefore make it difficult to be detected. Just ask the simple question, if your anti-virus software could catch all viruses why do you still hear about new viruses?!
3. The Cloud is the new PC
Attacks may be sourced from other areas but affect data on your PC/MAC devices. What if your virus was in your dropbox folder, or exploited a vulnerability in the dropbox file-sharing service. Well that was precisely the purpose of the dropsmack service. Without going into too many details here, it exploited a vulnerability in the dropbox application and just waited for some unsuspecting user to open an infected file and it raged havoc on the machine it was installed on and any dropbox user that was part of a workgroup (and BTW, remained un-detected by anti-malware software for quite some time).
You might be saying… Thanks for all this but what’s the solution?!
There is no simple fix to this. Be pro-active. Reseach and invest in a comprehensive end-point management system that is more sophisticated than just anti-virus software. Look for a solution that has the ability to do user or device-level behavioral analysis and document your findings. In other words, put a system in place that not only helps you elevate your level of vigilance but also meets compliance regulatory standards. Better yet, just ask an expert! This will save you big in the long-run. If you are in a regulated industry like financial services, guess what? The SEC and FINRA already know this and are starting to crack down with stepped up cyber security audits in 2015. So, stay ahead of the game.