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Karen Cohen

By: Karen Cohen on June 24, 2023

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What Is Anti-Malware? Why Is It Important For Businesses?

Cybersecurity | IT Support

You’ve likely heard of anti-malware and know it helps keep business networks safe. But what exactly is it and how does it work

Anti-malware is one element of a comprehensive endpoint protection solution. It works together with anti-spam and antivirus software to keep data safe

In this article, we’ll provide a comprehensive, easy-to-understand guide to anti-malware. We’ll explore what it is and how it works. We’ll explain how it differs from anti-spam and antivirus software. And we’ll also look at how much you can expect to pay for an anti-malware solution. 

At Kelser, we include a full suite of endpoint protection solutions as part of our comprehensive managed IT support services. Rather than convince business leaders to work with us, we provide descriptions in non-technical language so that business leaders have the information they need to make educated technology decisions for their organization. 

We are often asked about anti-malware, so this article tackles the subject head-on.  

What Is Anti-Malware? 

As the name suggests, anti-malware is a proactive software tool that scans networks and data for malware (or malicious software). When it identifies malware, it removes it. 

How Does Anti-Malware Work? 

Anti-malware software scans files and programs looking for software that is known to be malicious. They detect viruses in three ways: 

1. Signature

Many programs scan files looking for known malware definitions (or signatures). When the anti-malware finds a file with a signature that matches one in its comprehensive database of known malware signatures, the file is identified as potential malware. 

This software must be updated regularly to ensure that the latest threat signatures are detectable. 

2. Heuristics

Anti-malware also can use heuristics to check files for suspicious characteristics that indicate new and altered versions of existing threats. Once a threat is identified it can be removed.

3. Sandboxing

Anti-malware can also test suspicious programs in what is known as a sandbox or a safe space on the computer.

Think of this like a penned in play area for a baby. The baby can act as it likes inside the contained area, but the rest of the house is protected.

The computer sandbox is a safe area. The malware usually “thinks” it has access to the entire host, when it really only has access to the protected area, keeping the host device safe while the anti-malware observes its behavior.

If malicious behaviors are detected, the anti-malware kicks in and eliminates it. 

One caveat: some malware knows when it is running in a sandbox and won’t exhibit malicious behavior until it actually gains access to the host device

Once anti-malware detects a threat, it either removes the malicious file automatically or quarantines the file so you can remove it manually. 

How Is Anti-Malware Different From Antivirus and Anti-Spam Software?

Antivirus and anti-spam software are reactive, they identify existing threats. Anti-malware is proactive, recognizing new (and emerging) threats that can penetrate antivirus and anti-spam software.

In addition, antivirus programs are typically best at detecting classic online threats like worms, trojans and viruses, while anti-spam software checks against industry-standard and your specifically defined criteria for known spam and virus controls.

All three tools work together to provide the best protection for your endpoints, all three tools are necessary. Some software applications perform all three functions, while others may offer one or two tools.

Related article: Top 10 Cybersecurity Tools To Protect Business Data

What Could Happen If I Don’t Use Anti-Malware Software?

Anti-malware limits your exposure to cyber threats. Without it, you are at greater risk of your devices and network becoming infected with software that can lead to stolen credentials, identity theft, data theft, financial losses, legal issues, and more

But anti-malware isn’t the only solution. One of the other most effective (and most often overlooked) ways to guard against cyber threats is by providing cybersecurity awareness training for your employees. 

Related article: Why Is It Important To Provide Security Awareness Training For Employees?  

How Much Does Anti-Malware Cost? 

There are free and paid versions of anti-malware. The price varies depending on the coverage and the number of devices you need to protect.

What’s The Bottom Line?

After reading this article, you understand what anti-malware is, how it works, and how it differs from anti-spam and antivirus software. 

We’ve discussed what can happen if you don’t use it and that there are free and non-free options.  

The bottom line is that anti-malware software is one tool to help keep your IT infrastructure safe, but it doesn’t protect your data from every cyber threat. In fact, no single security tool can keep your data and infrastructure 100% secure. 

So, just as each additional layer of security at your home (including locks, alarm systems, and electronic gates) provides another deterrent for criminals, every layer of security you put in place provides more protection to keep your network and data safe. 

If you find yourself wondering whether your organization’s security tools are up to the latest cyber threats, click the link below for a free checklist you can use to: 

✔️Understand where your organization's cybersecurity policy needs improving
✔️Learn five best-practices and actions you can take to keep your organization's data secure
✔️Help ensure your organization follows the latest cybersecurity best practices

Get your free cybersecurity checklist now, so you can take action against the latest cybersecurity threats and keep your business secure.

Get Your Cybersecurity Checklist

If your internal IT organization struggles to stay on top of emerging cyber threats (or maybe you have no IT staff,) you may be considering working with an external IT provider. Explore several options to ensure that you get an IT provider that is the right fit for your business. 

Related article: Proactive Vs. Reactive IT Support: Do The Differences Really Matter? 

Read this article to learn 6 hidden external IT support costs to anticipate so you avoid financial surprises.

As informed consumers ourselves, we know that the first step we take when evaluating our options for a significant purchase is to search the internet. It’s important to compare your IT support options so that you don’t end up in a partnership that doesn’t work for you

We are so committed to this advice that we’ve done some of the legwork for you. In our Learning Center you’ll find several articles comparing our offering to that of our competitors (based on publicly available information from our respective websites).

Learn how Charles IT and Kelser stack up. 

Or, if you prefer to talk to a human like we do, click the link below and we’ll schedule a 15-minute call to discuss your IT pain points and see if we might be a good fit to work together. 

Talk with a Human

About Karen Cohen

Karen brings unending curiosity to her role as Kelser's Content Manager. If you have a question, she wants to know the answer.

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