Monday, August 5, 2013

Buying Guide: Best business antivirus: 8 top paid security tools for small business

Buying Guide: Best business antivirus: 8 top paid security tools for small business

Buying Guide: Best business antivirus: 8 top paid security tools for small business

If you're looking to protect your company PCs from malware then you could just equip each one with your preferred free antivirus package. You'll still get a reasonable level of protection, and it might seem like you're keeping costs to a minimum.

Of course you'll have to manually install each copy, though. And train every user in its operation. And rely on them to let you know if there are any problems. And hope they won't turn off particular functions - or remove the whole package - if they think it's getting in their way. The software may be free, but it could still have some major costs attached.

If you have plenty of systems to protect - 10 or more, say - it could make more sense to choose a business antivirus solution, instead. This will typically have extra functionality (firewall, browsing protection), be easier to deploy over your network and you'll be able to manage your entire setup from a central location, enforcing your preferred settings, viewing detailed reports, sometimes even remotely accessing company PCs to help troubleshoot any problems.

Best of all, the price per installation can sometimes be cheaper than even our top recommended best home antivirus packages. So, what's on offer? We checked out eight of the best business antivirus tools around to find out. All of them offer discounts if you buy a two or three-year package, so we ordered them by their 10 PC, two-year package prices to m ake things fair. You can of course choose whichever package suits your needs best when buying.

1. Avast! Endpoint Protection

£240/US$ 370/AU$ 450 - 10 PCs, 2 years

Best antivirus for small businesses: 8 top paid toolsBest antivirus for small businesses

If avast! Endpoint Protection looks cheap, that's because it's the most basic business product the company offers: there's core antivirus, browsing protection and remote management only. That may well be enough, though, and even if it isn't, jumping up to the Endpoint Plus edition will get you a firewall and spam filter while still remaining cheaper than most of the competition.

Whatever you choose, you get full control over how it's implemented. You can install a few programs and m aintain them individually - installing avast!'s Small Office Administration tool provides simple web-based remote management, or using the high-end Enterprise Administration tool gets you automatic discovery and deployment of the program, detailed control of user access rights, strong support for mobile devices (they're automatically updated whenever they connect to the network) and more.

The antivirus protection you get is generally rated as mid-range by independent testing, with AV-Comparatives scoring Avast's engine at 98.9% in its March-June 2013 Real World Protection report, for instance, while the very top packages scored 99.9%. And if you need value for money then avast! Endpoint Protection could be a great choice.

Score: 3.5/5

2. AVG AntiVirus Business Edition 2013

£350/US$ 450/AU$ 575 - 10 PCs, 2 year s

Best antivirus for small businesses: 8 top paid toolsBest antivirus for small businesses

AVG is perhaps best known for its free security software, but the company also has some surprisingly feature-packed business tools. The AVG AntiVirus Business Edition 2013 includes a firewall, for instance. You also get identity theft protection, and it blocks malicious websites. There's the core antivirus engine, too, so you can manage the entire setup from AVG Remote Administration 2013, and AVG offers free phone support should you need it (Monday to Friday, anyway).

Despite all this functionality, AVG AntiVirus Business Edition 2013 is very easy to use. Its features are sensibly organised via a clean and simple interface (the same as AVG's consumer products), but for the most part you won't need to browse them at all: you c an just install the program and forget it.

There are still issues here. AVG's antivirus engine is generally ranked at the lower end of the scale by independent testing labs, for instance, and the price is similarly mid-range. AntiVirus Business Edition 2013 is worth a look if you're an AVG fan, but others will probably do better elsewhere.

Score: 3/5

3. Symantec Endpoint Protection Small Business Edition 2013

£380/US$ 500/AU$ 725 - 10 PCs, 2 years

Best antivirus for small businesses: 8 top paid toolsBest antivirus for small businesses

Symantec's small business antivirus package is flexible and easy to install. It can be managed locally, or in the cloud; you can install it on a single local machine, download a distributable package for your whole network, even send email invites to your prospective users. Whatever you choose, setting it up is very straightforward, with no complex settings or other hassles (it didn't even require us to reboot our PC afterwards).

This doesn't mean the package is short on features, though. It has a strong antivirus engine, an intelligent firewall, browsing protection and USB device control. There are handy conveniences, too, such as the ability to give one computer the job of downloading updates, which it then shares across the network with your other systems.

There have been questions over Symantec's malware detection abilities, with AV Comparatives rating the engine poorly in one test. That's not typical, though, and AV Test recently rated Symantec Endpoint Protection as one of the best business antivirus tools around. When you also factor in the very reasonable pric e, we tend to agree: if you only take one package for a trial, make it this one.

Score: 4.5/5

4. Bitdefender Cloud Security

£440/US$ 375/AU$ 710 - 10 PCs, 2 years

Best antivirus for small businesses: 8 top paid toolsBest antivirus for small businesses

If you're looking for reliable protection above all else then Bitdefender Cloud Security has to be on your business antivirus shortlist. Its capable engine does a great job of finding and removing malware, and independent testing labs consistently rate it very highly. Better still, Cloud Security also includes a firewall, as well as a basic c ontent filter to help prevent sensitive information being leaked online.

All this can be easily managed from Bitdefender's web-based Cloud Security Console. You can install the clients, configure the modules you need to use, create various policies (banning access to particular websites, say) and then apply them to some or all of your installations in a click or two.

You don't always get the fine control you might expect from a consumer antivirus product, unfortunately. You can't set a precise time for updates, for instance, or tell the system to scan only at a scheduled time (if a scheduled scan is missed, it'll try again when your user next logs on). And the program isn't cheap, either. Bitdefender's excellent core engine means it's still worth a try, but be sure to test the cloud management console in detail, to make very sure that it suits your needs.

Score: 4/5

5. Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Business Core

£450/US$ 620/AU$ 920 - 10 PCs, 2 years

Best antivirus for small businesses: 8 top paid toolsBest antivirus for small businesses

Kaspersky Lab's basic endpoint package is strictly essentials-only: antivirus, a host intrusion prevention system, firewall and network attack blocker, with the Kaspersky Security Centre to help manage it all centrally.

The antivirus engine alone is worth a great deal, though, as Kaspersky software regularly receives top marks from independent testing labs for its detection and repair abilities. There are mixed opinions on its performance impact - some say it's more than average, others say less - but we didn't find any noticeable slowdown on our system.

Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Business Core is easy to manage, with plenty of configuration options available (both locally and centrally). The price is arguably a little high for the functionality, but Kaspersky's engine is so strong that it's still worth a look. And if your needs are simple, there's always Kaspersky Small Office Security, which is more similar to the consumer product, but protects up to 10 computers.

Score: 4.5/5

6. Panda Cloud Office Protection

£450/US$ 630/AU$ 680 - 10 PCs, 2 years

Best antivirus for small businesses: 8 top paid toolsBest antivirus for small businesses< /img>

Panda's antivirus protection is generally rated as only mid-range by independent testing labs, and yet Panda Cloud Office Protection is one of the most expensive solutions here. So what's going on?

The package contained more features than we expected. And so along with antivirus and a firewall, you also get device control - a simple way to define how any system may use removable drives, CDs and DVDs, Bluetooth, image capture devices or modems. An excellent web-based management system provides a host of installation options (stand-alone installers, emailable links, network distribution tools), enables you to quickly configure program settings and gives access to your current security status, detailed reports, and more.

The management console even has integration with common remote access tools (LogMeIn, Team Viewer, VNC), so if there are problems then you can log in to check them out right away. Its core antivirus protection isn't our favourite, then, and the price is high. Still, if you need powerful remote management that's also easy to use, then Panda Cloud Office Protection is worth a look.

Score: 4/5

7. Webroot SecureAnywhere Business Endpoint Protection

£495/US$ 630/AU$ 640 - 10 PCs, 2 years

Best antivirus for small businesses: 8 top paid toolsBest antivirus for small businesses

There are many ways to deploy Webroot SecureAnywhere Business - download, email, MSI, command line, GPO - but the tiny client (a mere 725KB) means whatever you choose, it'll probably be installed quickly. This automatically launches a first scan - also over in just a few minutes - but a fter that it mostly just runs in the background. The default settings don't even enable the user to access its interface, although that can be changed.

A good feature set starts with the basics, including antivirus and a firewall. You get capable browsing protection, too, and bonus tools include a sandbox, process monitor, even a simple system cleanup module. And, conveniently, Webroot says the program will run happily alongside other security tools, which is potentially very useful if you'd like to extend your security a little further.

All this is controlled from a web-based management console. This is marginally more complex than some of the competition, but it's worth persevering with, and it only took a few minutes' thought for us to figure out the basics. Webroot SecureAnywhere Business Endpoint Protection still feels a little expensive to us. It's scored reasonably well in independent testing, though, and if you can use all of its features, and need the ex treme configurability offered by Webroot's management console, then it's worth a closer look.

Score: 4/5

8. F-Secure Client Protection

Price varies

Best antivirus for small businesses: 8 top paid toolsBest antivirus for small businesses

Getting started with F-Secure Client Protection isn't as straightforward as with some of the competition. There's no stand-alone installation, for instance. We had to set up a Policy Manager server first, then push an install to our test system: nothing too difficult, but it wasn't exactly intuitive, either.

Once you've figured out the basics, though, the product becomes much more i mpressive. F-Secure Client Protection provides a lot of features - antivirus, firewall, browsing protection and more - and each of these can be centrally configured in enormous detail via Policy Manager (although you can also set them locally, if you prefer).

The client is a little more bulky and complex than some of the competition. This doesn't really matter, though, since once it's set up you'll barely need to look at it again. And most importantly, independent tests show it's extremely effective, with a recent AV-Test report giving it full marks for protection. If you're willing to put in the effort to set it up, F-Secure Client Protection has plenty to offer.

Score: 4/5



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