CIOs Need To Know Why Antivirus Software Can Create False Security

Antivirus software can help but it's not invincible
Antivirus software can help but it’s not invincible
Image Credit: Gabriel Salvadó

Almost every person with the CIO job currently has some form of antivirus software deployed within their company. The thinking behind this software is that if the bad guys attach some malicious software to a document, image, or spreadsheet that comes into the company, then before anyone can open it up the antivirus software will catch it and the file will be quarantined. However, times have changed and despite the importance of information technology, CIOs may be putting too much faith in exactly what their antivirus software can accomplish.

What’s The Value Of Antivirus Software?

CIOs like to think of their antivirus software as providing them with a wall of defense between their corporate networks and the big scary outside world. However, the world has been changing and it turns out that antivirus software may not be providing as much protection as we once thought that it did. The bad guys have been working very hard in order to come up with ways to get around our antivirus software. Just to make things a bit scarier for CIOs, in some cases the bad guys have been able to use the antivirus software to do their dirty work for them. All this leads to CIOs who are going through each day with a false sense of security.

One way for a CIO to look at modern antivirus software is to view it as being a lock that has been placed on the front door of the IT department. It’s going to keep most of the people who want to break in out. However, clever people who show up with the right tools are still going to be able to gain access even though they should not be in there. This is important to understand because 93% of U.S. companies that have at least 500 employees rely on some form of security products in order to protect their networks. Of these firms, 65% – 70% are running antivirus software.

There is a lot of value in the antivirus software that CIOs are currently using. This is part of the reason that Microsoft went so far as to incorporate a security firewall into the Windows 10 operating system. The good things that antivirus software can do include helping to deal with the risks posed by hacked emails and social media accounts. Antivirus software can also help out with issues such as identity theft. Additionally, the antivirus software can keep out the new breed of virus threat where a hard drive becomes encrypted and users have to pay to get their data back.

How Should CIOs View Antivirus Software?

Antivirus software itself is part of the challenge that CIOs are facing. For one thing, the virus threat is always changing and so CIOs have to make sure that their IT departments have processes in place that will ensure that the company’s antivirus software is updated on a regular basis. Additionally, it’s the fact that the antivirus software is often guarding the company’s crown jewels that makes the antivirus software itself a tempting target for the bad guys.

Today’s antivirus software is very good at what it does. Antivirus software can prevent common attacks such as phishing emails that try to get users to click on a bad link or an infected banner ad on a web page. However, the problem that this type of software is facing is that the virus threat is always changing. Antivirus software can only detect known viruses. New viruses are being created at such a fast rate that the antivirus software firms are always rushing to keep up.

The next generation of antivirus software is going to have to become better at detecting viruses. In order to accomplish this, the manufacturers are starting to look at adding artificial intelligence (AI) to their products. Once this is done, the antivirus software will be able to monitor user behavior such as mouse clicks and typing speed in order to determine when they have been infected. The best ways to make antivirus solutions more effective is to either combine them with additional security methods such as two-factor authentication or simply by adding additional antivirus solutions.

What All Of This Means For You

People in the CIO position understand that a key part of their job is to keep the company’s networks safe from outsiders who seek to do it harm. A key part of this defense is the use of antivirus software that is used to detect rogue code before it can gain entry and do harm. However, the world of viruses is always changing and so CIOs may have to rethink how they are using antivirus software.

The bad guys who make virus software have been busy. They are trying to infect the antivirus software so that they can break into the company’s networks. Antivirus software will keep most of the bad guys out, it’s the really determined ones that you are going to have to be looking out for. CIOs need to make sure that their antivirus software is always being kept up-to-date. The next generation of antivirus software will be even better because it will incorporate artificial intelligence (AI).

CIOs need to understand that antivirus software is a critical part of how they can keep their corporate networks safe. However, there are limitations to what any one piece of software can accomplish and so CIOs have to be careful to not rely too much on a single piece of antivirus software. Instead, create a multilayered solution that incorporates antivirus software in order to create a barrier that will keep the bad guys where they belong – outside of your network.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: What do you think is the best way for a CIO to ensure that the company’s antivirus software will be kept up-to-date?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Securing the company’s data is one of the primary jobs of the person with the CIO job. As the importance of information technology grows and more and more of our data moves into the cloud, keeping that data out of the hands of hackers is becoming a bigger and bigger issue. As CIOs go looking for solutions to this problem, what they are discovering is that perhaps the perfect solution already exists. Like maybe it was created back in the 1950s. Yes, I’m talking about storing your precious data on magnetic tape once again.

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