GCN LAB REVIEW

Security software suites offer more than antivirus protection

Antivirus software has taken a back seat to network security solutions that offer more than simple bug detection and fixes

Network security used to be synonymous with antivirus software. But as cyberattacks have increased in complexity and the threat of hackers and internal sabotage has grown, antivirus software has been absorbed into network security solutions that offer more than simple bug detection and fixes.

And with good reason. Five to 10 years ago, the average bug would bring down your network for an hour or two. But hackers and rogue programmers have come a long way from denial-of-service attacks and false promises of Anna Kournikova pics. Modern smart bugs are often built by programming experts or teams of programmers in other countries who operate with impunity, have almost unlimited resources and are aiming to do a lot more than just bring down a couple of computers.

In response to the increased complexity and threats to networks and computers, traditional antivirus companies such as Symantec, McAfee and Trend Micro have become reliable in identification, remediation and elimination of most of the common bugs. Those companies have also poured big bucks into armies of programmers of their own who work to anticipate the next smart bugs coming down the pike.

Each of the five products in this review was able to detect and remove bugs and cure systems, regardless of what we threw at them from the GCN bug vault. What’s more, those companies' products hit their mark by detecting most issues instantaneously and fixing all issues in an overall average of 3 minutes, 50 seconds.

However, despite that common trait, those software programs are hardly homogeneous. This is a diverse group of solutions, with significantly different setups, interfaces, technologies and features.

Another twist to what is now more than just your regular antivirus roundup is our focus on layers of security and protocols. Despite what you might hear, one size no longer fits all when it comes to network security. And you can no longer just install, update and forget about it. Nowadays, a backup plan to a virus circumventing your antivirus software is recommended not only by most experts but also by most antivirus vendors. In this review, we examine companies that complement and support your antivirus software.

Regardless of how small your agency or office is, your administrators and security experts need to have proper protocols and procedures in place even before you purchase a security solution or antivirus program. Therefore, we gave extra points to vendors whose solutions facilitated the establishment of protocols on a network.

When evaluating network security, it’s difficult to overemphasize the importance of ease of use. Next to making sure your software can stop and fix any bug problem, it’s important to know that if something were to go wrong, it would be easy and quick to fix. From experience, we have seen midlevel bugs rip through nodes and destroy data at command centers because it took too long to find, quarantine and fix.

The next-most important criteria to use when evaluating a network security suite is the price tag. Most service-oriented technology with an agent installed on each node or network PC tends to be associated with inflated price tags, the idea being that there is a lot of software and installation with this type of technology. We rated products in the roundup that cost less than $50 per node with a grade of A in the price category. Triumfant Resolution Manager, which costs less than the other programs, is a supplement to antivirus software.

The final two metrics we use to grade antivirus or network security solutions are features and overall performance. Because every vendor's solution could handle common viruses and malware, each received an A grade in the performance category, with the exception of Triumfant Resolution Manager, which earned an A+ by far exceeding the other products in its ability to detect and remediate malware.

It’s important to note that Network Associates, makers of McAfee antivirus solutions, chose not to participate in this roundup.

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