Why Antivirus-Only Cybersecurity Isn’t Enough

Cybersecurity used to be relatively simple. However, long gone are the times when the only way to get your computer infected with malware was to run a malicious program. As the stakes get higher every year, cybercriminals are getting smarter, using everything from zero-day malware to advanced social engineering tactics.

As technology evolves, so do the threats that face modern businesses that have come to rely heavily on their IT infrastructures. The days of relying on antivirus software alone are long gone, particularly in the case of the small- or medium-sized business, which has become the favorite target for cybercriminals. It’s now necessary to have a complete IT security plan in place.

Inadequate Protection Against Zero-Day Attacks

Reputable software vendors regularly release security updates to address threats but, no matter how hard they try to stay one step ahead of hackers, there is always a chance of failure. A zero-day vulnerability refers to a serious security hole in a program or operating system that remains unknown to the vendor until an attack (or, usually, many attacks) has already taken place.

The best antivirus solutions tend to make extensive use out of heuristic scanning, rather than relying solely on a malware database. This allows them to stop most security breaches in their tracks by identifying suspicious behavior rather than malicious code alone. Nonetheless, they often cannot adequately overcome program-specific vulnerabilities that arise without any warning.

A False Sense of Security

Business users and consumers alike often take their antivirus solutions for granted, falling into a false sense of security as a result. However, it’s important to remember that, while still essential, antivirus is a cure rather than a prevention. There’s no substitute for proactively safeguarding your network to prevent security issues from developing in the first place.

Antivirus software is primarily designed to eliminate malicious code, but only once it’s already penetrated your network. There’s always a high chance that your antivirus solution will lose its battle with the malware. In fact, some of the most harmful malware succeeds by disabling your antivirus software, giving it the opportunity to unleash a payload of destruction on your network.

No Protection Against Social Engineering Attacks

By far the biggest security threat facing companies today comes in the form of the social engineering attack. Cybercriminals are becoming increasingly reliant on using social engineering, rather than malicious software itself, to dupe victims into unwittingly giving up their personal or payment information. As such, these attackers often disguise themselves as legitimate entities.

Phishing scams are rife nowadays, with most of them arriving by email. Some of them are blindingly obvious to anyone who has the slightest familiarity with the internet, but others are sophisticated enough to dupe almost anyone. Phishing scams typically come in the form of an email purporting to be from a legitimate source, such as a bank or legal firm. Some are even targeted towards specific victims, as is the case with so-called spear-phishing attacks.

No Substitute for Staff Training

Antivirus software does little to prevent human error, which is one of the main reasons why it’s good to automate your entire cybersecurity system. Nonetheless, there’s still no substitute for training your staff by educating them on the threats. Malware infections and other cyberattacks happen every day due to simple actions, such as downloading software, clicking links in emails from unknown senders and disregarding or misunderstanding security warnings.

An antivirus solution is also only as good as its latest update, so if you’re not updating it constantly, you might as well not have it running on your systems at all. Fortunately, all reputable antivirus software updates itself automatically by default, but you should always make the effort to keep informed and know exactly what to do if a threat appears.

SpectrumWise provides a range of managed security services, including network monitoring and perimeter security and one of the most effective spam- and phishing-filtering services on the market. To find out how we can safeguard your business against online threats, drop us a line today.


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