What does the future of endpoint protection and business antivirus look like?

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The security industry is one of the most dynamic areas in the world of technology, and no wonder – products must evolve because new threats keep appearing. When those threats can deal a hammer blow to global businesses or ruin people’s private lives, there’s plenty of need for constant growth.

That remains true no matter what kind of products you talk about: relatively affordable antivirus packages still need improvement to keep up with the latest threats, while complex endpoint security systems need constant innovation to ward off potential problems.

The people behind these systems need to keep an eye on innovation. It’s important to know what’s ahead so you can keep protecting your data and livelihood. That’s why we’ve rounded up the key trends that will influence the security sector in 2022 and beyond.

We’ve got plenty more information about business security, too. Here’s a primer on the difference between endpoint protection and antivirus, and here are our top tips for choosing the best antivirus product for your business.

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An AI-powered future

Antivirus technology has been around for decades, but it needs constant evolution because cybercrime never sleeps.

Indeed, we’ve already seen the future of antivirus appear in some of the best mainstream products. It’s called Next Gen Antivirus, or NGAV, and it improves on existing products by bringing features from high-end enterprise products to consumer software.

Many older antivirus products identify threats by using a database of established malware signatures, but lots of current threats simply don’t have those electronic signatures – or they’re so new that they’ve not been identified yet.

NGAV software tackles this issue by decreasing its reliance on those signature databases. Instead, NGAV apps use machine learning and AI to identify the patterns and behavior used by unknown and emerging threats, so you can be protected from those issues before they become problematic.

Expect to see other trends in NGAV products. There will be a greater concentration on cloud-based systems that don’t impact your PC’s performance, and antivirus software will be quicker and easier to use in the future – you won’t have to install an app, for starters.

Elsewhere, expect future antivirus products to use more sophisticated systems to block malware hidden in applications, email attachments, and other types of files. NGAV software will use more advanced techniques to address these increasingly popular exploits – because traditional antivirus apps often don’t pick them up.

Ultimately, antivirus software in 2022 and beyond is a matter of evolution, not revolution. Expect high-end technologies to make the journey from the enterprise to the consumer, with machine learning, AI and more sophisticated exploit detection sitting alongside increased reliance on the cloud.

An image of security icons for a network encircling a digital blue earth.

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Endpoint expansion

Endpoint systems function as a security platform for a complex business network – antivirus is just one part of a broader system. Because these products are more advanced, expect a greater focus on techniques that can make security easier to manage alongside a more sophisticated approach.

One of the biggest trends for endpoint security will be an increased reliance on AI and machine learning. Those features have been included in endpoint packages for a couple of years now, but expect those futuristic technologies to become more prominent as they’ve become more powerful and sophisticated.

We expect AI, machine learning, and advanced diagnostic services to combine to create self-healing processes. This means that your endpoint security system will identify a threat and deal with it automatically, often by shutting down systems, checking applications and restoring secure environments. It’ll happen without user intervention, making it easier for IT departments to manage network security.

The increased reliance on AI and machine learning can simplify complex network management, and we also expect endpoint security to become more prevalent in general – because it unifies lots of security functionality in a single interface. It may look expensive, but it’s often better value than buying different products, especially because you’ll save time and gain performance from a unified approach.

Other endpoint security trends will reflect wider workplace developments. Because more people than ever are working from home and using their own devices, endpoint systems will emphasize zero-trust frameworks. These operate on the presumption that no device can be trusted until its identity has been established, and that’s a good rule of thumb when there’s never been so much device variation across large and medium businesses.

An effective zero-trust framework uses advanced identity verification and extra boundaries to ensure that users verify themselves and their devices before they get anywhere near mission-critical data. Many people will already be aware of the concept – think two-factor authentication (2FA) on your email account – but an endpoint system’s zero-trust framework will have more layers and give companies more control.

Indeed, expect endpoint systems to take a multi-layered approach to all security functions in 2022 and beyond. Devices and business functionality will be protected by antivirus modules, firewalls, intrusion detection systems and data protection algorithms. This trend will be exacerbated by the trend for home-working and people using their own devices – more unpredictability and a wider spread of hardware and locations means that more care must be taken over security.

And, finally, we anticipate that some businesses will turn to managed detection and response (MDR) companies. These organizations effectively take charge of your business security. It often makes sense to outsource in this way – by contracting an MDR to handle your security, you can benefit from expertise, constant support, and better results.

It’s a great option if you don’t have the time or expertise in-house to address security needs effectively, and this isn’t the only area where companies can benefit from outsourcing – it’s increasingly common for companies to outsource their recruitment and many of their HR functions so they can save time and benefit from expert help in those particular fields, and many people employ virtual assistants too.

Knowing is half the battle

Ultimately, there are plenty of trends coming down the pipe in the antivirus and endpoint security sectors, and they’re set to deliver improved results, easier functionality and more peace of mind for you and your business. No matter what kind of security product or platform you’re going to consider, be aware of the trends so you can make informed decisions in 2022 and beyond.

Mike has worked as a technology journalist for more than a decade and has written for most of the UK’s big technology titles alongside numerous global outlets. He loves PCs, laptops and any new hardware, and covers everything from the latest business trends to high-end gaming gear.