When it comes to ensuring workstation protection, a lot of enterprises still prefer to rely on established IT security practices, such as the installing any traditional anti-virus software to remove viruses/malware, and keeping the Operating Systems (OS) updated. Antivirus solutions generally function on the principles of blacklisting, or by identifying the known threats/malware that aids them to block and prevent those from affecting the targeted workstations. However, the nature of malware ecosystem has evolved quite rapidly in the last decade and cyber attackers are constantly looking for novel and innovative ways to get through the conventional security barriers. As a result, there has been an overwhelming onslaught of Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) and these attacks are generating way too many malware variants for a traditional antivirus solution to keep up with.
Why only Deploying an Antivirus Solution is not Adequate to Battle Against Sophisticated Threats?
Computers are now increasingly used for a variety of personal and mission-critical purposes, such as financial transactions, healthcare emergencies, and banking. Consequently, the focus of attackers has shifted towards stealing sensitive data, which can provide them considerable financial gain. Cybercriminals are also aware of the fact that an activated virus/malware can last for a very short time span, before a definition anti-virus update is tested and published against it. As a result, they are making use of automated systems that can churn out thousands and thousands of different virus variants per minute, outperforming the capacity of any antivirus vendor to process and release updates to remove those viruses.
Antivirus solutions work with conventional blacklisting approach to system security, which means, those need to know the exact nature of the virus/malware threat in order to successfully prevent those from invading the workstations. However, if the malware is brand new, as seen in zero-day attacks, there is high possibility that the antivirus solution would allow that to run on the system which can cause severe damage. Besides, when deployed alone, antivirus response rates to detect new threats and remove viruses become too slow.
Even with an updated antivirus solution in place, IT professionals often find it difficult to keep the workstations protected against advanced social engineering techniques, such as malicious URLs and phishing scams. Such cybercrimes are generally targeted on individuals rather than on systems, and function by manipulating individuals into clicking unauthorized links or revealing confidential information. A successful attempt can provide hackers unrestricted access to the user’s personal files and accounts, which can put market reputation of the company at stake.
With the cyber threat landscape constantly changing, IT administrators need to adopt advanced security measures to remove viruses effectively, and combat against customized malware and sophisticated attacks. Introducing a layered security solution within the IT infrastructure can help IT professionals ensure tamper-proof protection of their IT assets, starting from firewall, email gateways and internet, to endpoint devices and PCs.
A layered Approach to Endpoint Security
Deploying traditional anti-virus technologies based on blacklisting can no longer act the sole defensive barrier against APTs. Layer security model includes three protective layers, which have their own strengths and function at different levels, to help IT professionals ensure that there are multiple security defenses at work to block advanced threats and remove viruses.
First Layer of Protection: Baseline Security
Anti-Virus solution i.e., baseline security makes up for the 1st security layer. It provides strong baseline security to help IT professionals combat with Trojans/malware, and acts as a robust tool to instantly identify and remove viruses from the targeted workstations. It also monitors the active apps and provides advanced Firewall protection to make sure that no malware can slip through its protective barrier.
Second Layer of Protection: Application Whitelisting
Anti-Executable builds the 2nd defensive layer, which works on application whitelisting technology. It allows IT administrators to create a list of authorized applications and programs which would be allowed to run on the systems. Any program/application/file, which is not approved by the IT professionals, gets automatically blocked. Anti-Executable does not depend on any definite updates for its proper functioning, with which IT administrators can ensure that no unknown virus/malware infiltrate the IT network. In addition, this also means that any disguised executable threats/mutating virus, which have, by chance, got past of the 1st protective layer, can be effectively stopped at the second layer of defense.
Third Layer of Protection: Reboot to Restore
Deep freeze, an instant system recovery software based on patented reboot to restore technology, forms the final layer of defense. This robust solution enables IT professionals to set up and control a desired baseline configuration and restore Windows and Mac systems to that predefined state on reboot. Deep Freeze employs very powerful system restore mechanism, and reverts any user-made changes instantly upon a simple reboot. Thus, by restoring workstations to their original baseline and deleting all unwanted changes on reboot, it helps IT professionals protect the workstations against malware/viruses that might have slipped past other security layers, and ensure their 100% availability.
With layered security, organizations can ensure that they are combining both blacklisting and whitelisting technologies and employing right system restore solution to build an optimal protective barrier against advanced threats and executable attacks. Antivirus and Anti-Executable integrate seamlessly with one another and work in collaboration to enable proactive and advanced endpoint protection mechanism against today’s complex cyber threats.