Cyber Security 201: Picking Appropriate Antivirus & Antimalware Software

A critical component of each organization’s cyber security strategy is having the appropriate antivirus and antimalware tools in place. Many think antivirus and antimalware are one-and-the-same, but believe it or not, many antimalware tools do not cover viruses, and vice versa. Today, we unveil the differences between the two and set you on course to having your security strategy covered.

Antivirus vs. Antimalware. What’s the difference?

We’ll start off by defining a virus versus malware. A virus is a piece of code that is capable of copying itself in order to damage your computer (e.g., corrupting your system or destroying your data). Malware, on the other hand, is an overarching term that includes software – Trojans, spyware, worms, adware, ransomware, and viruses. Thus, all viruses are malware, but not all malware are viruses.

Antivirus typically deals with older, more established threats, such as Trojans, viruses, and worms.
Antimalware, focuses on newer threats, like polymorphic malware.

Antivirus tools protects users from lingering, predictable-yet-dangerous malware.
Antimalware protects users from the latest malware, which are often even more dangerous threats.

Antimalware usually updates its rules faster than antivirus, meaning that it’s the best protection against new malware you might encounter while surfing the Internet.
Antivirus is best at crushing malware you might contract from a traditional source, such as a USB or email attachment.

Which should I choose?

We have worked with many clients to help them identify the best programs to protect their data and devices. We always recommend starting with an assessment to determine the organization’s protection needs. This will help determine how comprehensive your tools need to be (and whether you will need to look at paid versus free programs). Some organizations can get away with a lightweight malware agent, but the caveat to this approach is that the tool might not be able to catch everything. Other organizations might lean towards more protection, but that may slow down devices depending on the number of agents deployed.

Ultimately, no one tool can catch everything, so once you’ve had an assessment, we recommend considering a layered approach. Having multiple tools is like having multiple sets of eyes looking at threats from different angles. Between good browsing habits and a security suite that approaches potential threats from all sides, you’ll have your bases covered!