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Cyber CEO – Next Generation Antivirus

In our Cyber CEO series, we break down key cyber security concepts into simple terms. Here, we’re discussing next generation antivirus (NGAV), also known as endpoint detection and response (EDR). Unlike traditional antivirus software that relies on known virus signatures, NGAV uses behavioural analysis and artificial intelligence to detect and respond to threats in real time. This approach addresses the limitations of classic antivirus methods, providing better protection against modern cyber threats. Join us to learn how NGAV works and why it’s important for your cyber security strategy.

Understanding Traditional Antivirus

Before diving into next generation antivirus, it’s important to understand the limitations of traditional antivirus solutions. Think of classic antivirus as a photo book at your local police station, filled with pictures of known criminals. This book represents the database of virus signatures. Whenever a computer executes a program or opens a file, the antivirus software scans it against this database. If a match is found, the software acts to delete or quarantine the threat.

Limitations of Traditional Antivirus

The primary limitation of this approach is the sheer volume of new threats. With over a million new threats emerging daily, constantly updating the signature database and rescanning all files becomes impractical and inefficient.

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Enter Next Generation Antivirus

Next generation antivirus addresses these limitations with a more dynamic approach. Instead of relying solely on a static database of signatures, NGAV employs behavioural analysis. This is akin to having a police state with CCTV, temperature gauges, and artificial intelligence monitoring all activities. On a computer, this means monitoring processes and behaviours in real-time, allowing for the detection of unknown or zero-day threats.

Behavioural Analysis and AI

By focusing on process-level activities rather than just file signatures, NGAV can detect and respond to threats that classic antivirus might miss. This includes threats hidden in PDFs or processes running in the computer’s memory. Additionally, modern threats often change their form (polymorphic viruses), making signature-based detection ineffective. NGAV leverages artificial intelligence and machine learning to continuously adapt and learn from new threats detected across all Internet-connected systems.

Key Features of Next Generation Antivirus

 

  1. Real-Time Detection and Response
    NGAV systems continuously monitor and analyse all activities on a device. If suspicious behaviour is detected, the system can immediately respond to mitigate the threat.
  1. Rollback Capabilities
    In cases where a threat like ransomware begins to encrypt files, NGAV can sometimes roll back these changes, effectively reversing the damage done by the malware.
  1. Network Isolation
    If a threat is detected, NGAV can isolate the infected device from the network. This prevents the malware from spreading to other devices and allows security teams to address the issue without further risk.

At Jam Cyber, we recommend and use Webroot for its robust NGAV capabilities. Webroot uses AI to continuously learn from threats detected on all computers using its software, ensuring up-to-date protection.

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Next generation antivirus provides a significant advancement over traditional antivirus by using behavioural analysis, artificial intelligence, and real-time response capabilities. However, it’s important to note that antivirus alone, whether traditional or next-gen, only offers about 47% protection according to our research.

For comprehensive cyber security, organisations should implement the ACSC Essential Eight security controls, along with end-user awareness training and robust cyber governance. Cyber security is not just an IT issue but a critical business risk that requires a holistic approach.

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