If you pay close attention to enterprise security – perhaps in a management role or on an IT team – you’ll likely have come across terms like “antivirus” and “endpoint.”
They are both important terms and represent vital security topics, but there is a lot of overlap between them. When you may need to make vital business decisions, it helps to know the difference between the two.
We’ve explained exactly how endpoint security and antivirus differ in this article, and we’ve also covered their similarities, benefits, and issues.
There is plenty of information elsewhere if you also want additional help with enterprise security. Head here to learn more about the differences between business and consumer antivirus, or click to find our guide on choosing the best antivirus for your business.
Defining Antivirus and Endpoint Security
More and more computer users are aware of anti-virus software, and for good reason. It’s been around for decades and is designed to detect, identify and remove malware, from viruses and worms to keyloggers and Trojans.
Antivirus software is used on consumer PCs and in simpler business setups, and they tend to use existing threat databases to deal with problems as they arise. And although they often have additional features, malware removal is their main task.
Endpoint security is a much larger area, and antivirus is just one part of it. An endpoint security system is a cloud-based platform that protects an entire network and all of its connected devices, from PCs and laptops to smartphones and tablets.
Endpoint systems include anti-virus modules along with other features, such as encryption, data protection, and intrusion detection. Endpoint systems are powerful, and an entire network of devices is typically managed from a single cloud-based control panel. They are therefore extremely useful for companies with more complex needs.
Consumer and small business antivirus products tend to use existing databases along with simpler machine learning and artificial intelligence features to detect known threats on your PC. They are capable of fending off well-known malware attacks, but they are generally not as good at dealing with unknowns and emerging issues without established signatures.
Any decent antivirus product will offer real-time, manual, and scheduled scanning for maximum versatility. You will receive alerts when issues are discovered and files will be isolated or deleted immediately.
A full antivirus application will often have additional features, such as email and download scanning and safe browsing tools. An antivirus tool will be easier to use than any endpoint solution, and it will be cheaper, but it’s not as powerful. If you want to use an antivirus on your business computers, it is best to purchase multiple licenses and install the application manually on your systems. You don’t get the cloud deployment options typically found in endpoints.
Dig into endpoint protection
Antivirus applications react to existing threats, while endpoint solutions are more complex and are proactive, so they can identify and deal with new and emerging issues before they become problematic.
An endpoint security system will include an antivirus module with more capabilities than any consumer antivirus product – expect more machine learning, AI, and crowdsourcing to help identify a wider variety of issues related to malware.
Endpoint protection systems go far beyond simply offering antivirus. You’ll regularly find modules to combat intrusion detection, email and browser protection, and firewalls in an endpoint suite, as well as data protection capabilities and sandbox options to experiment with. new software and configurations and protect networks from new and unknown devices.
Elsewhere, expect to see encryption, options to create access and usage policies for different devices, departments and seniority levels, and the ability to whitelist and blacklist sites, apps, ports and devices. Endpoints also have options to identify and block internal attacks alongside external threats, and they tend to work on a wide variety of platforms,
Ultimately, an endpoint protection product has a much wider range of functionality than an antivirus solution because it has a much broader remit. An endpoint system protects an entire network and all of its connected devices, which comes in handy when more people than ever are using their personal hardware for work.
Endpoint systems have a much more complex range of features than consumer and professional antivirus products, which means they require experienced IT staff. Since endpoints protect a large number of access points, they are managed using a cloud interface that can update, control and monitor hundreds of devices simultaneously. You don’t have to manage each device individually like you usually would with an antivirus app.
Along with cloud-based management, endpoint systems can be programmed to tackle different threats with automated responses, and open APIs mean they often integrate with other popular business apps and tools. This makes it easier to integrate a terminal option into your existing systems. Administrators can control and authenticate access, deploy updates remotely, and use in-depth reports and alerts to better control their wider networks.
Choose the one that suits your needs
Endpoint systems are far more complex than antivirus applications. Ultimately, antivirus is just one piece of a larger endpoint solution, and endpoints are a more secure option for businesses with critical protection needs and complex networks. Indeed, it’s best to think of an endpoint protection system as a comprehensive security platform rather than a single product.
An endpoint protection package is a great choice if you need more power and control over a wider area. Keep in mind that endpoint products are more difficult to manage than a simple antivirus application and are much more expensive, especially if you have to pay for protection on many devices or need extensive support.
So there are huge differences between endpoint security and antivirus apps: the former is a complex enterprise security platform with cloud management, while the latter is a straightforward choice for small businesses and consumers. . They both have their place, however, and both have their pros and cons – so make sure you know the differences between the two before deciding whether to invest in one or the other in your business.