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Anti-virus decisions—part 2

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The previous column was aimed at personal and home users. In this column, I am focusing on corporate malware solutions.

By corporate, I mean any business network with five or more users. I have consistently maintained that no malware solution is totally secure, as risky user behaviour, intentional or otherwise, often does compromise a network.

Therefore, as a pre-requisite, every company must have a clear and concise IT User policy, which outlines what users can and cannot do on the company network infrastructure or computer device.

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This must be taken seriously and incorporated into the company employment contract, with related disciplinary procedures.This should be accompanied by some basic user training on the correct way to access corporate network services.

So, what is the basic difference between personal and corporate security solutions? Firstly, any corporate network should normally reflect a client/server configuration, which allows the organisation to centrally secure and manage their devices, users and data.

All modern anti-malware solutions are totally dependent on being up to date, to ensure immediate protection of any new malware. This is usually done by daily—and sometimes more frequent—updates being applied to all devices to be protected. Using personal anti-malware solutions means that each device on the company network needs to pull down its own updates (often duplicated) to keep protected.

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This results in heavy bandwidth demand as soon as each device comes online. Often, users also choose to delay their updates as this slows down their internet service—a very dangerous short-term solution.

One big advantage of a corporate solution is that the downloads can be updated once onto a centralised device and then distributed locally to all other network devices when they come online—leading to reduced bandwidth demand and a minimised impact on the company internet service.

With internet and data services in Malawi being among the highest in the region, let alone the continent, this does impact considerably on the company’s bottom line.

Deploying a centralised security solution enables, amongst others, two very important areas of functionality for the IT team.

The first is the application of group policies. Group polices simply means the application of computer usage and access policies to a group of network users, rather than having to deal with each user on an individual basis. Not very cost effective if you have users greater than say, 25, or in distributed offices?

Group policy functionality is offered by most established security suppliers and allows management to define exactly what network usage a group of users may have. A simple example would be bank tellers at a bank.

Do they require access to the internet, for example? Group policy enables this group of users to be defined and a policy applied across the board for them only. Similarly, this functionality can control the usage of social networks in the office, or restrict the use of external media devices, such as flash drive, by groups of users.

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