Businesses are becoming more reliant on free anti-virus software, as the technology improves at consumer level to match that of the paid for equivalent.
Speaking to IT Security Guru, Stuart Okin, director of EMEA at CIPHER Security said that one of the key trends that he sees is a move from using enterprise-edition anti-virus to free software, as investment is made in incident response software instead.
He said: “With file integrity monitoring, that is where the investment is as it works and with a heuristics engine on each endpoint, you have a forensic engine too.”
Commenting, Steve Durbin, managing director of the Information Security Forum, said that he would have some concerns about a large enterprise adopting such an approach, given the better visibility that large anti-virus organisations have into global threats. “An SME could probably get away with using one, but not a larger organisation,” he said. “Microsoft offer something in the form of Microsoft Security Essentials (for up to ten workstations) but all the other anti-virus offerings are from small players.”
Two senior security professionals that IT Security Guru spoke to and asked to remain anonymous, said that free anti-virus options often come with a low price as there is a lack of instruction and “all fall down in the enterprise management part”. One said that when they evaluate solutions either new or renewal, they always consider open source, inexpensive and free products as in many cases the products are just as good or better and are more affordable. Another said that they did not believe that corporates are heading in this direction, but as the costs for anti-virus have come down dramatically and are now not significant, it is better to have a tool with some support than not.
CISO Amar Singh told IT Security Guru that anti-virus is becoming less and less relevant, and hence he was not surprised that businesses were using free anti-virus; however, there was a danger around the quality and security controls.
He said: “I am not implying free is bad, but you must be aware of the organisation (or individual) behind the product to be fully satisfied. In addition, most regular anti-virus providers worth their salt have jumped over to the APT/malware side of the fence and claim to offer enhanced protection.”
Singh said that in the context of anti-virus, businesses should be focusing on more robust endpoint protection technologies that offer more than just anti-virus and as part of that, consider using micro virtualisation technology solutions.
Commenting, Rebecca Kline, COO of Malwarebytes, said that the company has seen its free software used within enterprise and while it is true that free security software can be every bit as good as the paid-for versions, companies need to be careful about officially rolling it out because it might be against the terms and conditions to use it in the enterprise.
“What we do often find, however, is that our free product works well as an introductory tool for CISOs and IT teams. They use it at home on their personal or family computers, realise that it works very well, and end up making an inbound call to our enterprise sales team.”