How to choose the best antivirus software for your business

For businesses, cybercrime is a high-stakes game. Criminal actors often launch a multitude of cyberattacks to target high-value, sensitive data like customer details, financial information, and intellectual property. The rise of remote work and hybrid environments — with a greater diversity of hardware — has also led to new security vulnerabilities and increased exposure to cyber threats.  

Building your best defense starts at the ground level with good antivirus software. We’ll take you through how to choose the best antivirus software for your business and a list of popular options for you to consider.  

What’s included in business antivirus software?  

Compared to antivirus software for home or personal use, business antivirus software is usually beefed up with more of, well, everything.   

More complex management options 

It’s hardly surprising that antivirus software for businesses has more complexity than consumer versions since it has to offer protection to many different devices. Business antivirus software is designed to enable centralized deployment and management of multiple endpoints across a network. Many are or have cloud-based options that allow IT to monitor and update systems and respond to cyber threats across their network, from anywhere. 

More powerful features 

Antivirus software for businesses has a bigger job, so more powerful features are a must. For instance, GravityZone Business Security — a Bitdefender antivirus product, leverages machine learning across its suite of features that scan, detect, and analyze threats. Business antivirus software is not only more robust, but it often also includes tools like USB protection and VPN as part of its baseline offerings.  

Is free antivirus software better than paid antivirus software? 

In general, free antivirus software offers businesses less protection and reliability than paid versions. Here are three main reasons why: 

  • Free antivirus programs are usually not as updated, only offering basic protection against common, known viruses and malware but not more advanced or new threats.  
  • Free tools may also exclude advanced features such as patch management and sandboxing — which allows IT to test out unknown applications in a contained environment.  
  • Above all, free versions of antivirus software may not be licensed for business use.  

8 things to look for in a business antivirus software 

With so many options available, how do you choose the best antivirus software for your organization? We’ve listed some important factors to keep in mind during the decision-making process. 

1. All-inclusive protection 

Make sure that whatever antivirus software you choose offers all-inclusive protection. This should cover threats like ransomware and other forms of malware, web attacks, and network attacks. Business antivirus software should provide three basic layers of protection — file, network, and application, and include features like USB protection and employee and network tracking.  

2. Reliability 

A reliable antivirus program should come with a constantly updated database of known threats, keeping up with ever-evolving categories of malware. It should also be able to automatically monitor and update endpoints, with real-time scanning and removal of threats. Some types of malware might target your antivirus program, which should be able to protect itself from being corrupted or terminated. 

3. Performance  

Third-party organizations like the AV-Test Institute and AV-Comparatives regularly test and rate antivirus software on their efficacy in protecting devices, systems, and networks against cyberattacks. Their reports and assessments can provide a useful indicator of general performance.  

4. Performance impact  

When choosing the best antivirus software for your business, you want something that isn’t resource heavy. A good antivirus solution provides efficient and effective protection without impacting the performance of your computer systems and network. Look out for things like boot timings and scan speeds.  

5. Usability 

Most business antivirus software programs are designed with a centralized dashboard or control panel that allows IT to efficiently manage and monitor multiple endpoints across their network. Those with good UX make it easy for users to navigate through settings, documentation, and logs.  

6. Compatibility with your environment  

Every environment is different. Some are larger or more complex with a variety of different operating systems. The best antivirus software is one that is compatible with the scale and complexity of your endpoint environment and IT infrastructure.  

7. Support

The best antivirus software brands would come with excellent aftersales support that you can easily access 24/7, through a variety of channels — email, phone, live chat, or a dedicated online portal.  

8. Pricing 

Subscription packages are the norm today and antivirus products are no exception. Tiered according to price and provisions, the information provided should help you to weigh product features against your budget and requirements. Ultimately, you’d want to go for the best protection that you can afford.  

Antivirus software solutions for businesses (and how much they cost) 

If you’re looking around for antivirus software for your business, we’ve gathered some options below, listed in no particular order of preference.  

Avast Premium Business Security 

Avast Premium Business Security works on all major operating systems and includes data protection and virus protection against malware, ransomware, and other advanced cyber threats. The subscription plan also includes privacy protection, webcam protection, and USB protection — though these features are not available for macOS devices. Its online management platform enables remote device management and monitoring, from anywhere. The downside is that it offers limited protection for macOS hardware and additional features like patch management (only available on the Ultimate plan) and cloud backup come at additional cost. 

  • Price: Starts from $46.99 per device for a year but price breaks are available the more devices you have. 
  • Free trial: Yes, the 30-day trial license is valid for up to 100 devices. 

AVG Antivirus Business Edition 

AVG Antivirus Business Edition only supports Windows devices and services but offers a broad suite of features including identity, firewall, web, malware, and ransomware protection. The AVG cloud management console allows deployment to multiple endpoints, and centralized policy management, threat monitoring, and scheduling of updates. Compatible with Windows 11, it has a relatively low impact on device performance. Files are secured with the File Server Security feature and File Shredder, which securely deletes files to prevent unintended recovery.  

  • Price: Starts from $46.99 per device for a year but price breaks are available the more devices you have.  
  • Free trial: Yes, but not available for business use. 

Bitdefender Gravityzone Business Security 

Bitdefender Gravityzone Business Security supports Windows, macOS, and Ubuntu operating systems. Resource-efficient, it includes the latest ransomware mitigation technology and offers multiple layers of protection for servers, laptops, desktops, physical, and virtual machines. Security controls are customizable — policies can be based on location or user and adjusted according to different levels of freedom. The solution also features SIEM integration.  

  • Price: The plan starts at $77.69 per year for a minimum of three devices. Companies with more than 100 devices can request for a separate quote.  
  • Free trial: Yes, valid for 30 days. 

ESET Protect Advanced 

ESET Protect Advanced supports Windows, macOS, Linux, and Android operating systems, with a relatively light footprint. It includes network protection, web protection, and protection against cyber threats like botnets, ransomware, fileless malware, brute-force password attacks, and new, zero-day threats. It also includes mobile protection and mobile device management. The central management console comes with built-in reports and predefined notifications while allowing you to create custom ones. Additional features like multifactor authentication and cloud office security come at separate costs.  

  • Price: At full price, the plan starts at $310.50 a year for a minimum of five devices.  
  • Free trial: Yes, fully licensed trial for 30 days. 

Kaspersky Endpoint Security Cloud Plus 

Kaspersky Endpoint Security Cloud Plus supports Windows desktops and file servers, macOS, iOS, and Android mobile devices. A cloud-based solution, it allows remote endpoint monitoring and management from anywhere. Besides featuring patch management and real-time protection against malware and malicious websites, it also scores highly in terms of ransomware protection.  The Plus subscription includes root cause analysis of detected threats, but you’ll need a Pro subscription to access the Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) feature.  

  • Price: At full price, the Plus plan starts at $342.50 a year for a minimum of five devices.  
  • Free trial: Yes 

Norton Small Business  

Norton Small Business is a cloud-based solution that supports Windows, macOS, iOS and Android mobile devices. Ideal for small businesses with up to 20 devices, it features a simple setup and offers protection against malware, ransomware, spyware, and viruses. Like some of the other options listed here, Norton’s antivirus product complements Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies by enabling custom protection for different employee devices.  

  • Price: Starts at $99.99 for a 1-year subscription covering a minimum of five devices.  
  • Free trial: Yes, valid for 7 days. Terms and conditions apply.  

Panda Endpoint Protection   

Panda Endpoint Protection (now under WatchGuard) is a cloud-native security solution that supports Windows, macOS, and Linux operating systems, as well as iOS, Android and virtual environments. It includes endpoint protection technologies like Panda Threat Intelligence — a database of known threats that’s powered by machine learning algorithms. Featuring a central web-based administration console with a simple interface and a lightweight agent installed on endpoints, it’s easy to use and deploy with little impact on device performance.   

  • Price: Available upon request. 
  • Free trial: No but a 60-day free license for WatchGuard Endpoint Security is available. 

When it comes to strengthening cybersecurity, it’s not enough for organizations to rely on antivirus protection alone. It’s a holistic approach that also involves nurturing a strong security culture and cultivating healthy password practices among employees. For sysadmins, regularly keeping machines up to date with an endpoint management solution like SmartDeploy creates a more secure environment in the long run. Watch our demo to learn how to deploy software updates and patches easily, whether endpoints are onsite or remote. You can even streamline your Windows image library, helping you to maintain and update them more effectively. Better yet, you can try it out for free yourself!