What is Security Software?
Security software are solutions designed to protect your systems and devices from malicious applications or code. These solutions typically include features for detecting malware, managing privacy, alerting users to threats, and blocking the runtime of processes. Solutions are traditionally installed on devices, although modern solutions may also be cloud based.
The types of threats that security software typically targets include:
- Viruses—self-replicating programs created to modify applications or data. These programs can spread across devices and networks.
- Spam—“junk” programs, advertisements, or email. These are often used to market products or used to trick users into providing private information.
- Malware—programs created to compromise the performance, functioning, or security of devices or systems. Malware can be used to steal data, abuse resources, or cause other harms.
- Ransomware—programs used to encrypt data or disable systems. Attackers using ransomware typically ask users for ransom in exchange for returning access to data or system functionality.
How to Choose Security Software
There are many types of security software you can choose from depending on the type of device or system you want to protect and from what. Many security solutions combine a variety of functionalities. When evaluating software, consider the following functionalities.
A solid information security strategy should include a “defense in depth” approach, in which there are multiple layers of security that can stop threat actors at every stage of their attack, even if previous stages have succeeded.
Software that provides layered protections is preferable since it creates more opportunities to detect and stop security threats. For example, solutions can include real-time scanning for threats along with web filters. These filters can help prevent you from going to risky sites in the first place while actively scanning suspicious links clicked by the user or files downloaded.
Behavioral analysis features can help you detect dynamic or unknown threats, meaning your system doesn’t have a signature for them. These features create baselines of “normal” traffic based on your approved activity and detect threats by identifying events that don’t match. Software with behavioral features can help you identify zero-day threats, fileless malware, and malicious insiders that would be missed by traditional software.
Solutions you consider should place reasonable or minimal demands on your systems and should not affect overall system performance. If your devices drastically slow any time the solution scans a file or request, it will severely impede productivity. Additionally, if solutions have a noticeable effect on performance, users may attempt to disable them, leaving your devices unprotected.
Related to detection rates are rates of false positives, when non threats are flagged or treated as threats. False positives can be an inconvenience if they occur infrequently or a major issue if solutions flood users with false alerts. If solutions have a high number of false positives, legitimate software or processes may be blocked. Additionally, high volumes of false positives can overwhelm security teams, preventing them from managing legitimate issues.
Cloud Security Solutions
Cloud security solutions can protect both cloud-based and on-premises workloads. There is a wide range of tools you can use, and each provides different capabilities. The majority of the tools can be deployed across multiple clouds and protect distributed cloud resources.
Here are the most commonly used cloud security solutions:
- Endpoint security tools – basic endpoint protection tools provide antimalware features. More advanced endpoint tools can also protect endpoints on the network, send alerts, and initiate basic responses. Advanced tools like Endpoint Detection and Response provide intelligent capabilities and more layers of security.
- Configuration and patching tools – help you automate the process. For example, Chef and Ansible are configuration management automation platforms that can help you maintain configuration consistency across all deployed instances.
- Vulnerability scanning – help you scan your cloud environment and detect vulnerabilities. Some cloud vendors provide vulnerability scanning but you can also integrate with a third-party tool.
- Event collection and SIEM – logs provide important information about your environment. You can use security information and event management (SIEM) tools to centralize the collection of events and analyze the information.
- Template-based infrastructure as code (IaC) – like Terraform, can automate your infrastructure. Most tools can integrate with cloud-native template services like Azure Resource Manager and AWS CloudFormation. You can use the templates to define your infrastructure configurations, including security controls like identity policies.
Top 5 Security Software Solutions
With many options to choose from, it can be challenging to know which solutions to begin evaluating. Below are five of the most popular solutions to consider.
Bitdefender Total Security
Bitdefender Total Security is a solution that you can use for multiple devices operating on Windows, macOS, Android, or iOS. It includes an antivirus engine, firewalls, a secure browser, ransomware protection, a vulnerability scanner, Wi-Fi security, parental controls,and a password manager. The solution also comes with features for optimizing device maintenance, such as cleaning junk files or speeding boot times.
Kaspersky Total Security
Kaspersky Total Security is another solution for multiple devices operating on Windows, macOS, Android, or iOS. It includes features for antivirus, anti hacking, payment protection, privacy tools, software updating, and file backups. This solution also comes with tools for a virtual private network (VPN), password management, and parental controls.
Norton 360 Deluxe
Norton 360 Deluxe is a suite that provides protection for Windows, Android, macOS, and iOS devices. Device coverage includes personal computers, tablets, and smartphones. It includes features for anti spyware, antivirus, cloud backups, firewalls, password management, parental controls, VPN, and privacy controls.
Trend Micro Maximum Security
Trend Micro Maximum Security is a cloud-based solution that you can use to protect Windows, Android, macOS, and iOS devices. It includes features for antivirus and malware, parental controls, payment protections, performance optimization, web filtering, anti phishing filters, privacy shields, and password management. You can also use the solution to protect cloud storage locations, including Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive.
ESET Smart Security Premium
ESET Smart Security Premium is a solution that you can use to protect Linux, Windows, Android, and macOS devices. It includes features for multi-layer virus protection, privacy protection, encryption, password management, anti-theft with GPS tracking, performance optimization, and automatic updates.
In this article I discussed the importance of security software, and a few criteria for evaluating security software. I discussed how cloud-based solutions can help secure new types of workloads, and covered five software security tools that can be beneficial for the majority of organizations. I hope this will be helpful as you plan your security strategy and adopt a toolset to secure your organization.