Does your small office home office (SOHO) business need an antivirus solution? In this guide, we will discuss all you need to know about antivirus, why your small business might need it, and our top recommendations for antivirus software.
Without further ado, let us begin.
An antivirus is a type of software developed for one main purpose: to protect computers (and nowadays including mobile devices) from a group of harmful programs we call malware: worms, computer viruses, spyware, rootkits, key-loggers, botnets, and more.
Antivirus software mainly has three main purposes:
While there are many different types of antivirus software from various different companies, these three prime objectives remain more or less the same.
It’s very important to note that new viruses and malware are always being developed every single day, and so the antivirus program must update its database to include the latest malware and viruses.
Most antivirus software solutions will automatically update its malware definition database from time to time, which is important so that the antivirus software can properly detect the most recent viruses.
Also, there are antivirus software solutions that store their malware definition database in the cloud, so they won’t need to download the database to your computer. This can be a valuable feature to save space, allows the antivirus to scan faster, and maintain a more complete threat detection ability.
Most antivirus software has three main filtering or scanning features: instant, automated, and manual:
So, to summarize, here are some essential functions of antivirus software:
The short answer to this question is, yes, but only to some extent.
It’s important to note that not all hacking attempts utilize the use of malware and ransomware, but there are also hacking attempts that don’t use any malware at all like phishing or DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks.
So, to answer this in a better perspective: antivirus software can stop hackers that are relying on malware, viruses, trojans, ransomware, and any malicious coding that is included in the antivirus’s malware definition database.
This also means that if the attack is done by a completely new virus (zero-day attack) where the malware isn’t yet included in the antivirus database, your antivirus won’t be able to defend against it.
Premium, advanced antivirus software offers various advanced features like behavioral protection techniques to detect suspicious behavior as early as possible to effectively stop zero-day exploit and new malware.
So, no antivirus protection is 100% hack-proof, and that’s a fact we must embrace. Cyber-security is changing daily, and new threats and hacking attacks come all the time.
To fully defend your system/your Small Office Home Office (SOHO) company, you’ll need at least the following:
The answer to this question is a strict yes.
In early 2017, Gizmodo posted an article that you don’t really need an antivirus app anymore. It received a lot of backlashes back then, but many people also agreed with the article.
Gizmodo is right that today Windows (which was infamous as the most vulnerable OS) is much more secure than in 2005, and our internet browsers are now far more robust at detecting attacks.
However, cybercriminals and cybersecurity threats are also evolving just as quickly. There are 16.76 million of new malware programs in the month of January 2020 alone, and so if you don’t have proper antivirus software, your business is vulnerable to tens of millions of malware every single month.
Your antivirus software’s main role is to keep your site and business safe by detecting incoming attacks as early as possible. As discussed above, today’s modern antivirus solutions have various advanced detection capabilities that don’t solely rely on its malware definition database.
Also, it’s worth noting that it’s not just your desktop computers, laptops, and servers that are at risk. Any device that is connected to the internet is vulnerable: smartphones, tablets, and even IoT devices like your smart doorbell or smart speakers.
All of these devices are vulnerable to malware that can easily infect your system, delete, alter files, steal sensitive information, or use your computer’s resources (for example, for cryptocurrencies mining). When just one of these devices is compromised, then your whole system is at risk and can be wiped instantly.
Simply put, yes, you need proper antivirus software if you use any devices that are connected to the internet all the time.
It’s a very common misconception that your antivirus can slow down your computer as much as 50%. The answer is, no, it won’t be that significant of a slowdown.
It’s true, however, that your antivirus, as a program that is always running at the background of your system will have at least some effect on the overall speed of your system.
It’s important to note that if there’s any significant slowdown on your computer and/or your system, in most cases your antivirus software is not the culprit (at least, not the only culprit). Let us dig deeper into this issue and look at the potential causes.
All kinds of software always use your system’s resources and especially your CPU power. Your antivirus can perform automatic scans continuously in the background, and so CPU usage can be constant.
A scan can happen when you download something from the internet, install a new program, or visit a malicious website. Each of these scans will cause the antivirus software to access its malware information—whether on your system or via the cloud—database to compare the network drive with a massive list of malware behaviors and signatures.
This process alone uses your CPU’s resources, which can be very significant or very insignificant depending on your CPU’s power.
In the past, the malware information database is usually stored on the user’s computer and would need to be updated regularly, and so the process above will 100% rely on your CPU’s resources. Nowadays, however most premium antivirus software put this database on the cloud and so this process will rely on the provider’s server rather than our CPUs.
As a result of these, most reliable antivirus software solutions today won’t slow down your computer significantly. So, if your computer or device experiences a significant slowdown when your antivirus is running, it’s very unlikely that the antivirus is the sole culprit. Let us discuss some of the potential factors that might slow down your computer.
Here are some of the common issues that might cause significant system slowdown when the antivirus is running:
Below are some quick, actionable tips you can use to ensure your system is optimal, speed-wise:
If you’ve properly assessed all the above factors and followed these tips but you’re still having performance issues, then it’s probably time to switch to a faster antivirus. Below we will discuss important factors to consider when choosing a fast antivirus.
Here are some of the important features to ensure your antivirus is causing as minimal slowdown as possible:
In this section, we will review three of the best antivirus solutions for your Small Office Home Office (SOHO) businesses.
Note: Keep in mind that we mainly review these solutions while considering a small business (SOHO) setting. If you are looking for an antivirus for personal usage or for bigger enterprises, some factors might not apply 100%.
Norton by Symantec is one of the oldest antivirus companies, having been around for almost 3 decades (exactly 3 decades in 2021). Chances are, even if you’ve never used Norton products before, you should be familiar with the brand.
Norton now offers not only antivirus software, but also secure VPN service, cloud backup, password management tool, and other features in an all-in-one suite called Norton 360. There are five different plans available that might suit your small office home office (SOHO) business needs:
There’s also a Norton Small Business Plan for $99.99/year for 5 devices that offers centralized management. However, you don’t get a VPN, backup spaces, and other extra features of the 360 plans. So in our opinion, it is not worth the money.
McAfee is even older than Norton and has been around since 1987. McAfee offers a wide range of plans and packages, which can be quite confusing for those not familiar with antivirus software and its terms.
For small SOHO businesses, we feel that there are the Total Protection plans (comparable to Norton 360 plans) are the best choices. There are three tiers of Total Protection plans but they only differ on the number of devices/users and share the same features:
Similar to Norton, McAfee also offers a centralized-management antivirus solution for small businesses called McAfee Small Business Securities that costs $94.99 for the first year for 5 desktops (up to 25 devices), unlimited for iOS and Android devices.
Since it only includes the antivirus and not the extra features of the Total Protection plans, we feel it’s not worth it. It is, however, your only viable choice if you need more than 10 devices.
ESET is probably the least widely known antivirus software on the list, however, the company has been around since 1987. Although not as well-known as Norton or McAfee, ESET offers pretty flexible antivirus plans that are based on the number of devices:
Since the Endpoint Security Solution is much more expensive than the Smart Security Premium plans, the main difference here lies in the behavioral detection feature, which is only available in the Endpoint plans.
Does your small office home office (SOHO) business need antivirus software? The answer is a strict yes. I your devices are connected to the internet, then an antivirus software is a must as a first layer of defense against hacking attempts and other cyber-security threats.
Out of the three products we reviewed above, based on our tests ESET for Business offers the most powerful protection features out of the three, but the plans are relatively expensive compared to the other two.
McAfee offered the most affordable plans, especially for the first year, but doesn’t offer as many features as Norton and ESET. So it’s the choice if you are mainly looking for affordability.
Norton’s Small Business Plan, on the other hand, is somewhere in between both in the terms of costs and features and has the best, most intuitive interface.
So, as you can see, each of them offers its own advantages and disadvantages and you should choose one based on your number of devices, overall needs, and budget.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this article and it’s answered the question, “Does antivirus software stop hackers?”. If it did and you want to check out some other great articles, here is a short list we think you might be interested in:
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