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How to Choose the Best Server Antivirus: 7 Things to Consider

Server protection is crucial for businesses since they are prime targets for malware attacks that can compromise sensitive data and critical applications. Antivirus software provides a critical layer of defense against viruses, ransomware, and other cyber threats. Most modern specific antivirus solutions are lightweight and optimized, and perform real-time scanning with minimal performance impact, unlike traditional antivirus applications that could significantly slow down servers.

While the specific antivirus configuration may vary based on the server’s role and security requirements, most experts agree that servers should have some form of antivirus protection as part of a layered security strategy. Antivirus can help protect business servers from both known and emerging threats like DDoS attacks, malware, and drive-by downloads. While all server antivirus products aim to provide robust protection from cyber threats, not all server antivirus solutions are the same, the specific capabilities, performance, and pricing can vary considerably between different applications.

  1. Compatibility With Server Operating System

Techopedia’s Ilijia Miljkovac says that choosing the best server antivirus software can be a challenging task, especially if you consider that not only is the company’s network at risk but also the confidentiality of your clients and partners. When choosing a server antivirus, select one that is compatible and designed to run on the specific operating system. It should seamlessly integrate with your existing IT infrastructure. 

Using an antivirus that is not compatible with your server can result in installation failures, configuration issues, and potential security gaps. Additionally, antivirus applications that are not optimized for your specific server can significantly impact its performance and responsiveness. Miljkovac says that a compatible antivirus can protect your business network without slowing it down, reducing the impact on the network’s resources.

  1. Performance Impact

A key consideration when choosing a server antivirus is ensuring it provides complete protection without slowing down the server’s performance or availability. Servers need to maintain high levels of responsiveness to support critical business applications and workflows. However, running antivirus scans could potentially consume CPU, memory, and disk resources, degrading the overall performance if it’s not optimized.

Consider server antivirus solutions that offer:

  • Real-time scanning: Make sure the antivirus uses a lightweight, optimized real-time scanning engine that can detect and block malware on file access with minimal overhead.
  • Scheduled scans: In addition to real-time protection, the antivirus should allow scheduling full system scans during off-peak hours to avoid impacting the server’s availability during business hours.
  • Scan exclusions: The antivirus should have the ability to exclude certain files, folders, or processes from scanning which can reduce the performance impact. This is especially helpful for excluding large files or directories that do not need scanning.
  • Intelligent scanning: Most advanced antivirus solutions can use techniques like scan caching, which skips re-scanning files that have not changed since the last scan, which can improve the overall performance.
  • Cloud-powered scanning: Offloading some of the scanning workloads to the cloud can reduce the local server resources needed for antivirus. 
  1. Centralized Management

A centralized management console is a web-based interface that allows IT administrators to easily configure and monitor antivirus protection across several servers from a unified interface or dashboard. This is an important feature for any server antivirus to have. The console provides visibility into the security policies that apply to all servers, with features like malware incident reports, infection trends, and effectiveness metrics. This guarantees a minimum level of security that helps prevent any vulnerabilities in the system.

An additional key feature of a centralized management console is remotely configuring, auditing, and managing antivirus settings on servers from any computer. This allows efficient management of servers in different locations. Combined with the security posture of all servers, it simplifies antivirus administration, ensures consistent protection, and maintains visibility across servers.

  1. Scalability

Businesses often have to scale their server infrastructure to support increasing workloads, new applications, as well as expanding operations. A scalable antivirus solution can easily accommodate the business as it expands without requiring major changes or disruptions. Consider server antivirus solutions that use distributed architecture with scalability servers that can offload scanning and management tasks. This allows the antivirus to scale to support large numbers of servers without impacting its performance. 

Additionally, consider cloud-based antivirus solutions that are efficient, scalable, and offer robust protection. By offloading scanning workloads to the cloud, they can protect without taxing local server resources as the business grows. Consider features like auto-deployment rules and custom profiles to easily install antivirus in bulk across multiple servers.  Also, look for server antivirus that offers flexible licensing models that allow you to add or remove servers as needed, without restricting user limits or fixed server counts.

  1. Malware Detection Rate

The malware detection rate of a server antivirus is its ability to identify and block malware infections. It is an indication of how effective the antivirus is at providing comprehensive protection. Choose a server antivirus with a proven track record of high malware detection rates. The main purpose of a server antivirus is to detect and prevent malware infections. If an antivirus solution has a low malware detection rate, it leaves servers vulnerable to attacks that can compromise data, disrupt business operations, and productivity losses.

  1. Reporting and Logging

Reporting and logging capabilities a crucial features because they provide visibility and accountability around the antivirus system’s performance and security events. This is important for several key reasons:

  • Auditing and compliance: various industries have regulatory requirements regarding maintaining detailed logs and being able to demonstrate the effectiveness of malware protection controls, These reporting capabilities from the server antivirus can help businesses meet the required compliance mandates.
  • Incident response and forensics: Detailed logs from the server antivirus as forensic evidence can be invaluable for investigating the root cause and the scope of an incident in the event of a malware incident or security breach. 
  • Performance monitoring and optimization: IT teams can monitor the antivirus system’s performance through comprehensive reporting on scan results, any threats that are detected, and the action taken. This helps identify any problem or areas that require optimization to ensure protection.
  • Security posture visibility: This detailed reporting gives security and IT teams full visibility into the server’s security posture. This allows them to identify trends, measure the antivirus’s effectiveness, and help make informed decisions about further security improvements. 

By providing this level of visibility and documentation, the server antivirus supports the business’s overall security and compliance, as well as any incident response efforts. 

  1. Ease of Use

An intuitive, user-friendly interface makes it much easier for IT teams to configure and manage the antivirus across multiple servers for larger enterprises. This will reduce the overhead and complexity, especially if the business expands. Antivirus programs should have simple installation and configuration procedures to allow for quick deployment on servers, which reduces the time needed to ensure full protection is in place.

Additionally, the centralized management console should be easy to read and understand, requiring less training for IT teams to become proficient in managing and maintaining the antivirus on the servers. Not only does this save the business time, but it also saves money. When an antivirus is simple to use, it encourages better adoption and consistent usage by IT teams, ensuring that servers remain protected.

Conclusion

Investing in a robust, scalable antivirus solution is critical and a necessary step to protect your business’s IT infrastructure from malicious cyber attacks. It should be a crucial component of your business’s cybersecurity strategy, providing multi-layered protection, optimized performances, centralized management, and compliance support. It does not matter if you’re in the e-commerce, online casino, or restaurant business. Antivirus is a smart investment for all industries. By preventing malware attacks, a server antivirus can help minimize system outages and disruptions that are costly and critical to business operations.

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