Everyone knows the importance of having security software on their PC, but most business owners likely have set-ups that normal anti-virus software won't be able to cover adequately, especially in a business with multiple PCs.
This is where endpoint security software comes into play, providing all the main features of consumer anti-virus, but with additional protections to protect not just your computer but also your network and associated server access. Even better, endpoint security usually comes with more control options, not list whitelists and blacklists for applications, as well as a central control panel to enforce company policies.
Other options can include filtering website access, as well as deploying security solutions remotely to other devices on your business network.
Each entry in this list has been carefully chosen for its business features, such as remote installation and central management. The best endpoint security service will have enterprise-level protection against threats, but that doesn't mean they have to cost a lot of money, either.
The price per installation can sometimes be cheaper than even our recommended best antivirus package. So, what's on offer? We've checked out eight of the best endpoint security tools around in order to find out.
Most offer discounts if you buy a two or three-year package, so where possible we ordered them by their 10 PC, two-year package prices to maximise your savings. All prices below are for one-year and five end points. You can of course customise these on the vendor's website.
- Check out our best antivirus buying guide
Avast Business Antivirus Pro is an excellent business endpoint security software suite, giving you various tools such as antivirus, Firewall, email protection, anti-spam and the ability to sandbox applications for complete security. Avast Business Antivirus Pro (as opposed to the standard Avast Business Antivirus) also includes Sharepoint and Exchange protection, as well as a number of tools for your servers.
The AV protection you get is generally rated as good by independent testing, with Avast's engine blocking 99.7 per cent of threats in AV-Comparative's Real-World Protection report.
The free version of this security package has long been considered one of the best, but If value for money and simplicity are key factors, Avast Business Antivirus Pro could be a sensible choice.
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Symantec Endpoint Protection's first benefit is the company's Insight file reputation technology, an effective way to detect and block even the very latest undiscovered threats.
Other layers of protection include AV, behaviour monitoring, intrusion protection, a firewall, and the 'Power Eraser' to remove stubborn threats and repair your system.
Symantec's security policy options are a real highlight. You can set application blacklists or whitelists, control file and Registry access, restrict and control access to external media, and more, then monitor systems and enforce policies from a central console.
While there's no bundled protection for mobile devices, the package runs just about everywhere else: PCs, Macs, and a host of virtual environments and Linux distros.
If reliable protection is a top priority, Bitdefender GravityZone Business Security needs to be on your shortlist. Bitdefender products are loved by the independent testing labs, highly rated for malware detection, removal, performance and usability.
Most of the features work automatically – antimalware, firewall, web advisor, URL filtering – but you can also customise the product to control user actions. You're able to restrict access to certain websites and applications, block the transmission of sensitive information, remotely deploy the product to unprotected systems, and allow or deny users the ability to modify their security settings.
All this is managed from a central console where you can control and monitor remote users, create and apply custom security policies by user, location (the product adapts when users are outside the company), and more.
Avira Antivirus for Endpoint is the company's main small business product. It takes all the core features you'd expect – AV, baseline network protection, web filtering – and extends them with file server protection and optimisation, along with application whitelisting and blacklisting.
Avira's Online Essentials web console lets you manage your devices. This is simpler than some of the high-end competition, but that's not necessarily a disadvantage, and there's some useful functionality here: drive partition reports, licence management, remote deployment, and assorted mobile phone tools (antitheft, phone finder, and more).
Avira Antivirus for Endpoint doesn't have the longest of feature lists, but it's easy to use, and offers excellent protection, regularly matching competitors like Bitdefender and Kaspersky in AV-Comparative's Real World tests.
Kaspersky Endpoint Security Cloud is a small business product, which comes ready to protect Windows PCs, file servers, Android and iOS devices.
The desktop side of the package has all the usual quality Kaspersky modules – AV, antispam, a firewall, more – but the mobile security technologies are even more impressive. There are tools to detect insecure devices, control password rules, manage camera use, filter unwanted calls and texts, and remotely lock or wipe data from lost devices.
That’s topped off with an easy-to-use web console managing network and Bluetooth configuration, internet access policies, device settings and more. The most recent version added support for Mac devices, further extending protection.
There's impressive levels of protection, too. Kaspersky Endpoint Security Cloud came first out of four contenders in AV-Comparatives' October 2016 Business Security Test, detecting and blocking 100% of known malware and exploits. The package also produced an above-average five false positives, so overall, it put in some impressive results.
Webroot SecureAnywhere products stand out immediately for being incredibly lightweight: they're tiny (2MB disk space), install so quickly you'll barely notice (from 5 seconds), and consume the absolute minimum of system resources.
Scans are fast, too, and because just about everything is done in the cloud, there are no bulky updates or definitions to download – you're always up-to-date.
Other features include behaviour monitoring, an outbound firewall, along with identity and privacy protection. These don't always have the power and options of other tools, but they're implemented with real intelligence, and generally cope well with day-to-day tasks.
A cloud-based console enables tracking all your installations, and the package runs on just about any Windows or macOS system.
Factor in the price and Webroot looks very appealing to us, but it really is a product you need to try for yourself to understand the benefits. If you're interested, grab a copy of the trial and see what it can do for you.
F-Secure Client Security Standard is a popular endpoint protection tool, highly rated by the independent testing labs.
AV is just the start. There's also a firewall, intrusion detection, web filtering, online banking protection and device control.
If you need more, the Premium edition adds a software updater to scan for missing patches, and an option to restrict a user's web access by category. Whatever version you buy may be deployed and managed from a central console.
There are some issues here, in particular the fact that F-Secure's engine is more likely than most to flag legitimate software as malicious. But overall F-Secure Client Security Standard offers good protection for a reasonable price, and it's certainly a product worth thinking about.
Only available through value added resellers and specialist online retailers
Sophos Endpoint Protection Advanced is a powerful tool which uses many technologies to keep you safe. It blocks dangerous URLs, and is capable of detecting and removing exploit code, analysing behaviour to uncover even the very newest threats, and identifying endpoint connections with malicious servers to find compromised systems.
The results can be impressive, with the core engine doing an above-average job of blocking zero day threats, yet raising almost no false alerts at all.
There's a price to pay for this kind of safety, though: Sophos Endpoint Protection's background activities can noticeably impact your PC's performance.
There are some business-friendly features to compensate, including DLP along with device and application control, although other packages give you more at a much lower cost.
What's the difference between consumer and business AV?
Consumer AV products might be suitable if you operate your business from a single computer and a smartphone, but if you’re using multiple devices and have many employees accessing company assets from a variety of locations, then you’ll need business-grade protection.
Business AV has more features, such as business-grade firewalls, and protects more parts of your IT infrastructure. This includes endpoint protection for PCs, Mac, Linux, mobile and virtual environments as well as server protection.
It will also give your IT department a lot more control over how it’s used, ensuring you have the best safeguards possible for your business.
Do I need endpoint security software?
If you have more than a few employees, then probably. While the evidence suggests that free AV products are effective at safeguarding against threats and providing basic protection, they do lack certain features.
With more people and more endpoints for a cyberattack to target, the additional protections such as the ability to manage (and restrict) user activity will make an incident less likely to occur.
And given the consequences of a data breach, it might not be worth skimping just to save some money.
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