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Why Antivirus and Firewall are No Longer Enough: The Case for Comprehensive Endpoint and Network Security

As cyber threats continue to evolve relying solely on antivirus and firewall solutions is no longer sufficient.

Antivirus and firewall software have long been the first line of defense for protecting computer systems and networks from malicious attacks. According to MarketWatch, the value of the antivirus and firewall software market is currently worth over $37 billion. However, as cyber threats continue to evolve and become more sophisticated, relying solely on antivirus and firewall solutions is no longer sufficient to ensure the security of your systems and data.  

In this blog, we will explore why comprehensive endpoint and network security measures are necessary to effectively protect against modern cyber threats and how they can help you safeguard your business or organization.

What’s Antivirus and What Can it Do for You?

Antivirus software is a type of computer program designed to protect computers from malicious software by detecting and removing malware from devices and networks, with most including real-time monitoring for suspicious activity and potential threats. Antivirus software works by continuously scanning for known viruses and malicious code in the background as users browse the web or download files. It has the ability to detect and record various types of malware, such as viruses, Trojans, worms, adware, and spyware – regardless of whether the files were downloaded from the internet or transferred from external storage devices. Antivirus software compares the contents of each file against a database of known malware to identify potential threats. When the software detects a malicious file, it quarantines and/or deletes the threat and alerts the user. 

There are several advantages to using antivirus software. One of the main benefits is that it can protect against a wide range of malware, including viruses, worms, Trojans, and ransomware. It can also help to prevent the spread of malware by detecting and removing it before it has a chance to infect other devices on the network. Additionally, antivirus software can help to improve the overall performance of a device by detecting and removing malicious programs that may be consuming resources or slowing down the system. Some standard benefits include:

  1. Real-time protection: Most antivirus software offer continuous protection while the system is in use. 
  2. Constant scanning: If left running in the background, antivirus software can scan the entire computer for viruses at all times. 
  3. Automatic updates: Many antivirus programs can be updated with information about newer viruses. 
  4. Web protection: Antivirus software can detect if you are on an untrusted website or if a security protocol has been broken by someone attempting to steal your information. 
  5. Anti-spam: Antivirus software can detect cyber attack attempts hidden in ads, pop-ups, or emails and block them. 
  6. Scheduled scans: It is possible to schedule scans to prevent the computer or network from slowing down during use.

However, antivirus software also has its limitations. It can only protect against malware that it has been specifically designed to detect, meaning that it is unlikely to be able to protect against emerging threats or those that use new methods of infection. This creates a huge gap for organizations relying on antivirus alone, considering that each day, over 450,000 new malware and malware variants are registered. Moreover, the antivirus cannot protect against negligence, since it can be bypassed if the user inadvertently installs malware or visits a malicious website. Finally, antivirus software is only as effective as its most recent updates, so it is important to ensure that the program is regularly updated to protect against the latest threats. Key disadvantages include:

  1. Limited detection methods: Antivirus software primarily uses virus scanning to identify potential threats and may not use other detection methods. 
  2. Limited protection: Most antivirus software do not offer full protection and may only be able to identify certain types of threats. Moreover, since it is software-based, antivirus cannot detect threats in the cloud or hardware.
  3. Intrusive behavior: Antivirus software may trigger false alarms if part of a malicious code matches part of the code in a normal file. Free versions may also include advertisements with such alerts. 
  4. Decreased performance: Antivirus software can use a lot of memory and hard drive resources, slowing down the overall performance of the computer. ​​

What are Firewalls and What Do They Have to Offer?

A firewall is a security system designed to prevent unauthorized access to a private network by filtering incoming information, and allowing or blocking certain data based on predetermined security rules. It is typically installed on a network's border to protect against unauthorized access and to monitor and control the flow of traffic. Firewalls can be hardware-based, software-based, or a combination of both. When data passes through the system, the firewall scans a portion of it and compares it to its database of verified threats to create a secure barrier between a private network and the public internet. Unlike antivirus software, firewalls do not neutralize malware on a device or scan files. 

There are two main types of firewalls: stateless and stateful. A stateless firewall makes filtering decisions based only on individual packets, without considering the context of previous packets in a connection. A stateful firewall tracks the state of each connection passing through it and can make more intelligent filtering decisions based on the context of the entire connection. This means that a stateless firewall is less able to detect sophisticated attacks that involve multiple packets, as it does not have the context of the previous packets in a given connection. On the other hand, a stateful firewall is more intelligent, filtering decisions based on the context of the entire connection. While a stateful firewall is better equipped to detect and block sophisticated attacks, it also has higher resource requirements, is more complex to configure, and can compromise your network’s performance.

There are several advantages to using a firewall. One of the main benefits is that it can prevent external threats from gaining access to sensitive data or systems. Additionally, firewalls can be configured to allow or block specific types of traffic, such as file sharing or remote access, which can help to enhance the security of a network. The following are some of the main advantages of a firewall:

  • Packet filtering: A firewall can filter entire data packets and flag/block those identified as threats. 
  • Proxy: By creating a look-alike version of the device to connect to the web, a firewall protects the device from incoming data. 
  • Blocking data output: A firewall can act as a one-way gate, allowing people in but not allowing data out. 
  • Content filtering: It allows control over employee access and can increase efficiency by filtering malicious sites or blocking non-productive sites. 
  • Phishing protection: A firewall can identify connections linked to social engineering attacks, e.g., phishing, and immediately block all outgoing data.

While a firewall has a definitive set of advantages, it is not without limitations. These software can only protect against threats that they are specifically configured to block, thus failing to protect against emerging threats or those that use new methods of infection. Moreover, if the firewall is not configured correctly, it can inadvertently block legitimate traffic and hinder the performance of the network. According to Gartner, misconfigurations will be the cause of 99% of all firewall breaches through 2023. Finally, firewalls can be bypassed if an attacker is able to gain access to a device that is already on the network. A few shortcomings of firewall are:

  1. Limited protection: Firewall software can only protect against predetermined threats, and it cannot protect against threats once device access is gained.
  2. Proxy consumes resources: The secure proxy service can be slow and consumes a lot of resources. 
  3. Maintenance cost: The cost of installation and maintenance can be high, and IT-savvy employees may be needed to set up/configure a hardware firewall. 
  4. Decreased performance: Firewalls, especially software-based ones, can limit the overall performance of a device.
Comprehensive Protection for Enterprises 

Integrating Endpoint Security & Network Security

Looking at the significant “cons” for both antivirus and firewall software, it is clear that these security tools do not offer complete protection: they are just a few cogs in the finely tuned cybersecurity machine. A more comprehensive and holistic approach is needed to avoid potential security holes that cybercriminals can take advantage of.

This is where endpoint and network security come in. Endpoint security is a type of cybersecurity solution that is designed to protect individual devices, such as computers, laptops, and mobile phones, from malicious attacks. It works by continuously monitoring the device for suspicious activity and blocking any potential threats. Network security, on the other hand, is focused on protecting the entire network from cyber threats. This can include both hardware-based and software-based solutions, such as firewalls, intrusion prevention systems, and virtual private networks (VPNs). Network security works by monitoring and controlling the flow of traffic within the network, and by blocking or quarantining any potential threats.

Since endpoint security protects individual devices from malware and other threats, and network security protects the entire network from external threats – by combining the two, businesses can ensure that their organization’s systems and data stay protected against threats at all levels. Together, they can provide the best protection against the widest range of modern cyber threats. Let’s consider a malware attack. As a first layer of protection, network security blocks the spread of malware by preventing it from entering or leaving the network. However, in case a breach does happen and the device becomes infected, endpoint security can then help to detect and remove the threat before it has a chance to spread to other devices on the network. 

Now, while the network–endpoint union sounds perfect in theory, picking the right solutions to combine can be tricky, due to problems of incompatibility when implementing them. Moreover, sourcing multiple solutions from different vendors can be counterproductive as this strategy leads to an increased surface of attack due to gaps in security coverage. In the unfortunate event of a breach, it may be difficult to trace accountability.  

This is where Evren comes in.

How Evren Combines the Best of Both Worlds

Evren is an enterprise operating system (OS) purpose-built for enterprises as an all-in-one integrated solution to enable enhanced security and streamlined central management. Evren combines the best of endpoint and network security to offer end-to-end protection for enterprises. Its comprehensive approach to cybersecurity goes beyond separate point solutions, providing multiple layers of protection against cyber threats that work together in a coordinated manner to offer continuous and real-time protection against both existing and emerging threats.

Some key cybersecurity features that Evren offers to ensure multi-layered protection include:

  1. Secure data storage: The Evren OS management portal runs on AWS platform and stores data encrypted at rest and continuously backed up securely. It also uses advanced physical, network, and software security measures to ensure data integrity and safety. Moreover, if required, the management portal can also be hosted on the customer's data center or private cloud to meet their specified data security standards.
  2. Safe data transfer: Evren uses a secure channel with 256-bit SSL encryption for all internet traffic between desktop clients, mobile devices, and Evren servers. It also uses "Let's Encrypt" certificates to ensure secure and short-lived certificates that are automatically renewed. 
  3. Automatic patch management: Evren uses managed services to automatically take care of all updates and security fixes. Its internal “vulnerability management policy” ensures that even unmanaged systems are kept up-to-date and free of known vulnerabilities. 
  4. In-built security features: Evren offers a range of powerful security features, including Full Disk Encryption, Application Sandboxing, Privilege Access Management, URL Filtering, Log Management, Asset & Certificate Management, and Remote Device Management. Together, these features block unauthorized access at both device and network levels, eliminating vulnerabilities against cyber attacks.
  5. Incident response plan: A  good cybersecurity solution must have preparedness measures ready to be deployed immediately in the unlikely event of a breach. Evren has an internal Data Breach Response Policy and an Incident Response Plan to ensure timely action and minimize impact. 

If you are still relying on multiple separate point software for your organization’s cybersecurity, it's time to consider a more comprehensive and integrated solution that incorporates both vigilance and resilience. Schedule a free security audit to discover how protected you actually are and take the first step towards developing a multilayered cybersecurity plan with Evren.