Antivirus software is a type of endpoint protection that secures individual endpoints by detecting and blocking malicious files. Small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are just as likely to suffer from a malware attack as any large-scale organization. In fact, because they tend not to have the generous security budget that larger enterprises do, SMBs may seem like easier targets for hackers. To make sure you aren’t an easy target, we’ve put together this guide to the best antivirus for small businesses.
We live in a world where increasingly more employees are working remotely and using their own devices rather than office computers. This means that powerful endpoint protection has become crucial to keeping an organization’s network safe. Today, most business antivirus software is hosted either entirely or largely in the cloud. This means that solutions can take advantage of advanced machine learning technology to automate analytics, which greatly enhances detection rates. However, as business antivirus software has become more sophisticated, so have malware attacks. For this reason, it’s important to know that you’re investing in the best possible protection for your business.
In this article, we’ll explore the best antivirus for small businesses. For the purpose of these solutions, we consider businesses of less than 100 users to be “small”. Each of these offers slightly different features, including varying levels of threat protection, mobile device compatibility, and patch management. We’ll give you some background information on the business antivirus software provider and the key features of the solutions themselves, as well as the type of customer that they are most suitable for.
November 2023 Update: This list has been updated to reflect new features, product acquisitions, and platform updates. This list of the best antivirus software for small businesses is regularly re-evaluated as support for new features—such as AI- and ML-powered threat detection—continues to roll out.
Why Do You Need Business Antivirus?
A computer virus is a section of malicious code written to have a detrimental effect on a computer. Once installed, a virus can replicate itself, spreading through the system and corrupting or destroying data as it goes. Some viruses also enable threat actors to spy on—or even take control of—your machine.
Implementing a business antivirus software is an effective way of preventing viruses from infecting your users’ machines and spreading across your network. As well as protecting against file-based attacks (i.e., malicious files that users may download, such as phishing email attachments), antivirus software can filter web-based threats such as malicious webpages, pop-up adverts, and spam sites.
How Does Antivirus Software Work?
Antivirus software scans the files, applications, and programs on each device that it’s installed on, and compares the code of each of these assets with a database of known malicious code. If a piece of code on the device matches that of a known virus, the antivirus solution quarantines or permanently removes it.
Quarantining files moves them to a specific location where they can’t harm your user’s device or spread to the rest of your network, but it means that the antivirus provider can analyze the threat and update their software so that it can block similar threats in the future. This intelligence is then crowdsourced across the entire fleet of devices that the antivirus provider is protecting—not just those in your organization, but in others, too. This means that if a threat is detected on one device, all others protected by that provider are alerted to it. This crowdsourced intelligence helps to protect against unknown and zero-day threats, as well as the known threats stored in the provider’s database.
The best antivirus for small business also uses machine learning to continuously analyze your environment and any threats that are identified, so that it can keep improving its detection rate.
Because antivirus software protects the individual devices connected to a network, it’s best suited to smaller organizations that don’t have a large or complex device fleet to protect. This is because, the more devices you have, the more time-consuming the task of deploying the software and updating it will be. For that reason, we recommend that larger organizations instead consider implementing an endpoint protection platform (EPP) or endpoint detection and response (EDR) solution as an alternative.
What Should You Look For In A Business Antivirus Software?
Antivirus software can be a powerful line of defense for an SMB, but it’s important that you choose a solution that’s going to offer strong protection, balanced with usability. To help you do that, here’s our list of the key features you should consider when choosing a business antivirus software:
- Automatic and manual scanning. The best antivirus software for SMBs allows you to schedule scans to be completed automatically at a time when they’ll cause the least disruption to your users. However, you should also be able to instigate scans manually as needed.
- Web filtering. Your chosen antivirus solution should include a web filter that allows you to restrict user access to harmful websites through allow and deny lists and will help to block spam and pop-up ads.
- URL scanning and attachment sandboxing. Phishing is one of the most prevalent threats that organizations today are facing. To help combat it, your antivirus software should scan emails for malicious URLs and open an attachments in a secure sandbox environment, where they can’t affect your user’s device.
- Automatic updates. Your solution should automatically update itself and deploy any necessary third-party patches. Not all employees will keep their software up to date (we’ve all hit “Restart Later” once or twice), so your antivirus solution should be able to do it for them.
- Straightforward deployment. Business antivirus software must be installed on every individual endpoint, so you need to make sure that this process is quick and easy to carry out—especially if you have lots of devices to protect.
- Efficient resource consumption. Antivirus software is supposed to improve performance by removing viruses and malware that can cause machines to become sluggish; however, some solutions use a lot of system resources and can cause devices to slow down when they run scans. If you can’t find a solution that’s lightweight, you need to make sure that you can schedule scans for a time when your users aren’t using their devices.