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Best Antivirus / Firewall Software for Small Business
Updated: Jun 08, 2021 / Article by: Timothy Shim
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Businesses of all sizes are vulnerable to cyber threats ranging from ransomware to trojans and phishing attacks. While larger companies may withstand damage, any financial impact on small businesses could deal a fatal blow.
Many safeguards exist, and the most basic (and often cheapest) solution is to use antivirus software. These are now also offered as part of more comprehensive Internet security solutions, including other features such as firewalls, secure Cloud storage, and even Virtual Private Networks (VPN).
Top Antivirus / Firewall Software Suites
Because of the range of potential threats, I seriously recommend that small business owners adopt more comprehensive products. Given the increasing breadth of possible attacks, using antivirus software alone would be like building a steel front gate and ignoring the rest of the compound.
Norton isn’t an unfamiliar name to most since it has a long and somewhat dubious reputation as a cybersecurity company. In recent years it’s cleaned up its act somewhat and now presents a solid product offering suitable for broad adoption.
Although Norton has an enterprise range of solutions, small businesses can consider its Norton 360 solution. It offers real-time threat prevention and includes a password manager, Cloud backup storage, and access to a VPN.
Norton 360 is available in various packages, but 360 Deluxe is ideal for businesses. It omits the parental controls found on more expensive versions while covering up to five devices per license – if you need more, simply purchase another license.
The Kaspersky brand gained a bit of bad rep in the U.S. due to the federal government’s aversion to many foreign brands under the Trump administration. Nonetheless, this shouldn’t concern you unless you’re doing business with any government agencies.
Kaspersky Internet Security has been highly rated for the capability of its protection engine and provides real-time threat prevention as well. Security threats are automatically blocked and, if found on your system, immediately isolated.
Aside from core features, this software reaches far, protecting Wi-Fi, including privacy tools, and even includes a VPN service. For small business use, you can choose to cover between three to five devices for each license – at increasing cost.
If you’re running a small business and the budget is ultra-tight, consider going for a free antivirus solution rather than none at all. Avast is a Czech company that has been famed for offering users free protection since 1988.
Unfortunately, in 2020, the company got itself embroiled in a scandal where it sold user data through a subsidiary. It has since moved on, though, and the product itself remains a solid choice for virus protection.
It’s excellent at first-level defense and doesn’t make bombastic claims as to the hundreds of things it can do. Aside from virus protection, it also actively monitors applications on devices and scans Wi-Fi channels for intrusion.
AVG was acquired by avast a few years ago and now sits under the same umbrella group. However, it retains the distinct AVG branding that should be comfortable to many. While AVG does have a free antivirus solution, you should consider AVG Internet Security 2021 instead.
AVG Internet Security has improved steadily over the years in protection and performance while retaining a very familiar user interface. It isn’t as complex to master as Norton 360 – but the simplicity can be a con if you’d prefer more control instead.
You can get this Internet security suite for much less than what top brands in the market charge. For SOHOs, a single-user license is available. If you need more, simply get the 10-device pack, and it should be able to cover most small offices.
ESET is a Czechoslovakia-based cybersecurity solutions provider founded back in 1992. The company has been surprisingly successful, surging ahead of more established brands like McAfee, Trend Micro, and others.
Part of the reason for their success has been a glowing record in anti-malware lab tests they’ve undergone – most passing with flying colours. Further, they’ve shed an early-day complicated user interface and become much more user-friendly now.
Like most other Internet security suites for home or small office users, you can get ESET to cover between one to ten devices. However, ESET offers a more granular choice since you can buy the license to cover the exact number of devices you need to secure.
Bitdefender is another cybersecurity company originating from a part of Europe. Founded in 2001, the company has clawed its way to a strong position and works closely with bodies including VMware, Microsoft, and the Linux Foundation.
Their impressive product lineup includes a suite specifically for small office users. It offers much of the usual – antivirus and such – but also has office-specific features. For example, protection against video call leaks, data breaches, and even network defense.
The best part about the Bitdefender Small Office Security suite is licensing. It’s the only one on this list that protects up to 20 devices under a single license. That makes it convenient to manage, even if not cheaper than competitors.
Malwarebytes is a bit of an odd duck where antivirus is concerned. I first came across this brand many years ago when Malware was just becoming a more common thing. Today it’s emerged as a comprehensive Internet security all-rounder.
There’s a free version of their virus scanner, but limited features make that unsuitable for office use. The Premium version is comprehensive without needing you to pay extra for a VPN (I recommend you purchase that separately).
Confidence in their malware-removing skills allows me to recommend them – if this is your key concern. For antivirus defense, they’re slightly untested. The complete suite includes protection from malware, ransomware, web attacks, and exploit.
Webroot is another relatively obscure anti-virus solution that has charged forward over the years. It today commands a larger market share than older names like McAfee or even Bitdefender. There are good reasons for this, of course.
This antivirus (it’s a complete solution but retains the name) software has special tools you won’t find elsewhere. For example, the SafeStart Sandbox, which it uses to isolate and test suspicious files.
Everything about webroot is highly secure – even its tools. The included password manager is safeguarded by two-factor authentication, but more importantly, everything is wrapped up in an easy-to-use interface.
Pros of Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus
File isolation for suspicious file testing
Strong password manager included
Fast scanning times
Cons of Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus
Covers a maximum of 3 devices per license
WiFI security costs extra
Personal versus Office Antivirus Solutions
You’ll notice that most of the products I’ve covered in this list are for the home user. These are more suitable for small office use since many will protect between five to ten devices. If you need more, you can always buy another license.
Most small office solutions will cost more, but the bigger problem is they can be incredibly complex to manage. Instead of dealing with that, it’s better to start with something like the ones above and consider moving to small office solutions when your business grows larger.
For those struggling between Norton and Kaspersky, rest assured there are many other options available – many of which are very recognized and highly capable. I’ve used many brands over the years and found most to be good at what they do, so long as you don’t do crazy things online.
If you’re curious to know what I use, I cover many devices with a mix of Norton Deluxe for some and Avast Free for others.
Timothy Shim is a writer, editor, and tech geek. Starting his career in the field of Information Technology, he rapidly found his way into print and has since worked with International, regional and domestic media titles including ComputerWorld, PC.com, Business Today, and The Asian Banker. His expertise lies in the field of technology from both consumer as well as enterprise points of view.