Robust Device and Network Security for SMBs: Avast Business Earns Our Retailer’s Choice™ Award for Scalable Endpoint Protection
Posted: 5.11.18 Cyber Security

Robust Device and Network Security for SMBs: Avast Business Earns Our Retailer’s Choice™ Award for Scalable Endpoint Protection

By: Michael Senecal

The Crunch: Cybercriminals once focused on the biggest online players, and media reports of attacks against major enterprises were common. But today, criminals are more likely to fly under the radar and look for easier marks, which means SMBs are increasingly in the crosshairs. Avast, with its long history of protecting consumers against malware, now brings a range of cybersecurity solutions to SMBs with Avast Business. The company leverages next-generation technologies — like artificial intelligence and machine learning — and a network of more than 435 million endpoints. Its scalable cloud-based infrastructure not only protects against emerging attacks and but also predicts future threats. For providing SMBs with enterprise-grade security in a variety of easy-to-manage, affordable packages, Avast Business has earned our Retailer’s Choice™ Award for scalable endpoint protection.

For more than 30 years, Avast has protected consumers against cyberattacks, pushing the technology envelope to stay ahead in the cat-and-mouse game of computer security. At work and home, phishing attacks reveal passwords and credit card information while ransomware locks computers and threatens to delete critical files unless money is paid.

And the problem only grows more complex. Every year, users bring millions of new mobile devices online, and experts predict that the number of home appliances and other objects connected to the internet of things (IoT) will increase by 285% by 2020.

Meanwhile, the criminals continue to evolve their tactics. Avast predicts a rise in spear-phishing attacks, which use artificial intelligence to mimic legitimate information requests, and fileless malware, which reside in random access memory and don’t alter data in ways that can be detected by traditional antivirus software.

Photo of Sean Sykes, Avast's Managing Director for North America and Latin America

Sean Sykes, Avast Business Managing Director for North America and Latin America, told us about the company’s solutions for small businesses.

To combat these threats, Avast uses morphology and mutation analysis technology based on artificial intelligence and machine learning to reveal every action across its user network and monitor changes in the complex structure of the binary code that makes it all work.

But the predictive power of those technologies is only as good as the network on which they operate, said Sean Sykes, Avast Business Managing Director for North America and Latin America. “Artificial intelligence and machine learning are like rocket fuel: without fuel, you’re not flying to the moon,” Sean said. “But if you don’t have data to analyze, there’s no rocket to fly.”

In 2016, Avast acquired AVG, formerly its chief competitor in the consumer antivirus space. Teaming up doubled the size of the network available to Avast’s analytical tools. “We currently have about 435 million endpoints under management — that’s the largest threat-detection database in the world,” Sean said. “A global network of that size analyzing data in real time means powerful protection for our customers — no matter what the future holds.”

For building a robust network capable of protecting users from the cyberthreats of today and tomorrow, Avast Business has earned our Retailer’s Choice™ Award for Scalable Endpoint Protection.

A Perfect Security Storm of Threats Aimed at SMBs

Avast Business provides SMBs with enterprise-grade protection at a time when they need it most. Criminals have realized that attacking smaller businesses is less risky than targeting larger enterprises. And given that attacks are growing more sophisticated, today’s SMBs face what Sean called a “perfect security storm.”

“A small dog rescue organization that my wife and I donate to was recently a victim of ransomware,” he said. “You’re starting to see attacks even at that level. SMBs need access to enterprise-grade solutions, which our network and technologies enable. And because of our years of experience serving the consumer market, our tools are easy to deploy and use.”

With attacks on SMBs happening more frequently and increasing in both sophistication and severity, a third factor becomes even more important. Many small businesses don’t have access to qualified security personnel.

“Analysts estimate a shortage of around 2 million cybersecurity professionals, globally, by next year,” Sean said. “SMBs find themselves in the undesirable position where they’ve become targets, attacks are harder than ever to defend against, and, in many cases, no one’s available within the organization to see to it that a security solution is properly deployed and maintained.”

“Small businesses want to focus on their core competencies and not have to worry about security,” Sean said. “At Avast, we’ve built out our managed services solutions and our channel of third-party providers to deliver manageable IT services to that sector.”

Flexible Solutions for a Variety of Use Cases

Avast Business designed a range of solutions so that customers can install enterprise-grade security built around their specific needs.

“SMBs are an economic growth engine — they’re where a lot of jobs are being created,” Sean said. “There’s also a lot of fluidity in that environment — new business entrants, employee turnover, a blurring of boundaries between home and office, personal devices moving on and off the network. It creates complexities that Avast Business can mitigate.”

Several considerations go into making that choice. Some customers need enhanced protection for data and servers. When a remote or traveling workforce is a factor, additional identity protection for devices on open and public networks is available.

Collage of Avast Business solutions

Whatever choice the business makes, Avast’s powerful analytics tools continually monitor its network. “The network is alive, it’s fluid, and it’s always evolving,” Sean said. “Our threat detection network ensures real-time protection and compliance.

Protecting Devices from Insecure Networks and Networks from Insecure Devices

To help small businesses negotiate the new rules of the remote workplace, Avast’s SecureLine VPN (virtual private network) protects devices from insecure networks. Available separately or as part of a package, the VPN masks the device on the network, hides it from ad trackers, and circumvents content blockers.

“Think about a sole proprietor working at a Starbucks location,” Sean said. “Or a business that has employees who need to access wifi in airports or on the road. Our VPN ensures they can all work securely and without interruptions.”

On the flip side of the security coin, Avast’s Managed Workplace RMM (remote monitoring and management) solution makes protecting the network from insecure devices easy.

“It makes sense for a small business to find ways to accommodate users’ personal devices,” Sean said. “But maybe a device doesn’t have antivirus software installed on it, or it hasn’t been updated recently. Our RMM solution flags insecure devices coming onto the network so steps can be taken to see to it that it’s properly protected.”

If a small business doesn’t have an IT department or security specialist, the best first step is to bring an Avast-certified provider in to perform a security assessment. “The assessment will produce quantifiable information about the company’s security posture,” Sean said. “That helps the business know whether it’s current level of security is acceptable or in need of improvement.”

Bringing SMBs Peace of Mind by Defending Against a Growing Threat

Avast Business solutions combat what Sean called the “commodification” of cybercrime against SMBs. It’s easier than ever for hackers with very little technical sophistication to make money by exploiting small businesses online.

“The problem is that these attacks on SMBs are going to continue to accelerate until the crime no longer pays,” Sean said. “An aspiring criminal can go on the dark web now and buy a ransomware kit and a list of small businesses to target. At a few hundred dollars per successful attack, you can generate a significant amount of money very quickly. If you target a huge enterprise, the FBI gets involved. But if you hit up a mom-and-pop for a few hundred dollars, not so much.”

Avast Business provides SMBs with assurance against attacks — but only if SMBs understand the need for protection.

“You don’t need security until you need it,” Sean said. “But, if staying up and running is important to your business, it makes sense to have it. Our endpoint protection solutions are lightweight: they don’t hog resources or slow down systems. They’re easy to use. But at the same time, they access a very large network and cutting-edge analytical tools.”

For making enterprise-grade security available to small businesses operating in dynamic environments, Avast Business has earned our Retailer’s Choice™ Award for Scalable Endpoint Protection.