The best endpoint protection software for business provides a simple way to safeguard your business desktops, laptops, and mobile devices. Note that we're not referring to them as business antivirus as we believe this notion is obsolete.
Additionally, endpoint protection services should bring together all cyber security and privacy controls for business PCs into a single management dashboard. This means everything from a standard firewall to antivirus software with malware removal and ransomware protection for multiple devices.
The advantage here is that business endpoint security saves on having to individually install software on every single computing device in the office, so it immediately comes with management benefits from an IT and productivity perspective. However, it also means there's a single place from which you can update company security policy across your IT network, as well as set up filters, options, and features customized to required needs.
The result is the ability to protect desktops and laptops, inclusive of Windows and Macs, as well as mobile devices such as smartphones. Some providers may also offer a rescue disk feature to rollback any existing attack, or encryption software. Additional features might include a data shredder, credential storage - although you may want to consider using the best password manager for this purpose - or a business VPN.
Here then are then best endpoint protection for business currently available.
If you're looking for extra protection, we've also featured the best identity management software.
The best endpoint protection for business of 2023 in full:
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Best endpoint protection for business overall
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Reasons to avoid
For over 35 years Avast has been researching and developing security software, so when they say they have a solution for endpoint protection we should all pay attention.
Avast 'Premium' Business Security involves using Avast 'Cloud Protection' to automatically deploy protection across the entire user base when a threat is detected. This protection not only includes antivirus but a VPN, firewall and USB protection.
The software also incorporates a 'Mail Shield' which works with email clients like Microsoft Outlook to scan for threats. The integrated 'Sandbox' also allows users to run applications safely.
During our tests we were very impressed to see the Avast agent aborted the download of our test computer virus. When we introduced a real trojan virus to the test machine, it was also immediately detected and quarantined. The Avast Business Hub also generated reports to confirm the suspect files had been sanitized.
Read our full Avast Premium Business Security Review.
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Best flexible EPP
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
For the past 40 years Cisco has been wowing consumers with its dazzling range of technology and software products.
In the company's own words, Cisco Secure Endpoint (formerly 'AMP for Endpoints') is 'built for resilience'. Cisco even makes the bold claim that the platform blocks more threats than any other security provider.
When it comes to brass tacks, we were unable find any specific pricing on Cisco's website but interested parties can contact one of their sales representatives. In fairness, this type of pricing model is quite common for the EPPs we've reviewed.
The good news is that unlike most EPPs we've reviewed, Cisco Secure Endpoint is truly cross-platform, supporting Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS and Android devices.
The platform maintains a database of every file it's scanned, allowing it to automatically block 'good' or 'bad' ones without intensive scanning through using a scoring system.
Cisco Secure Endpoint also employs machine learning analysis to identify malicious files based on their behavior. It supports detection of polymorphic malware to stop bad actors from making small changes to viruses to avoid signature detection. Once threats are detected, the platform is also capable of performing sandboxing and/or advanced forensics.
During our tests, when we tried to download a fake computer virus using the Microsoft Edge browser, the Cisco agent immediately detected it and blocked the download. We were impressed that the threat was prevented before it even gained a foothold on the test machine.
When we manually tried to copy a real trojan virus to the machine's 'Downloads' folder, the threat was also immediately detected and quarantined.
This means, aside from slightly vague pricing we found Cisco Secure Endpoint to be faultless.
Read the full Cisco Secure Endpoint review.
Best lightweight client
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
From 2016 onwards the cybersecurity experts at Malwarebytes have been producing EPP products such as Malwarebytes Endpoint Protection.
EPP for Business pricing is extremely competitive - it starts at $4.96 per device, per month for 10 - 99 devices.
Key features include a very lightweight client, which is quick to download and setup. Management of Endpoints takes place through Malwarebyte's 'Nebula' cloud portal, complete with introductory video.
The platform engages in application 'hardening' to reduce attack surfaces, as well as behavioral-based analysis and blocking. The company claims this is also combined with 'zero day' protection which uses payload analysis to proactively block threats.
Malwarebytes Endpoint Protection also incorporates 'web protection' technology to protect endpoints from malicious URLs. When we contacted Malwarebytes to request a trial for this review, they also suggested installing their free 'BrowserGuard' browser extension on our test machine.
We decided to put the platform through its paces after setup and downloaded a fake computer virus in compressed (ZIP) format in Microsoft Edge. The 'BrowserGuard' extension seemed to raise no objection to us doing this.
After we extracted and tried to run the program, the Malwarebytes agent sprang to life and contained the threat. Similarly when we copied a real trojan virus to the test machine, the agent only blocked and quarantined it when we actually tried to run it.
Most other EPPs we've reviewed are able to block downloads of malicious files or proactively quarantine them before the user has a chance to to launch. Still, the fact that threat detection works differently doesn't mean it's any less effective.
Read the full Malwarebytes Endpoint Protection Review.
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
Vipre Security Group was originally founded in 1994 and Vipre EDR (Endpoint Detection and Response) is one of their flagship products.
There's a basic pricing model of $60 per seat, for up to 10 seats, billed annually via automatic subscription, unless you email to cancel .This makes Vipre EDR one of the most competitively priced platforms we've reviewed.
The platform supports AI-driven malware detection, deploying agents with firewall, email scanning, network intrusion detection, DNS protection, web exploit detection, and anti-spam engines.
Vipre also claims the platform has additional security measures, including correlation engines that combine raw events, security events, and contextual data to identify zero-day, "living-off-the-land", and gray zone threats not detectable by regular antivirus.
Agent software is available for both Windows (from Windows 7 SP1 onwards) and macOS. We were sorry to see that Linux and mobile devices weren't listed, though the console itself has an excellent mobile interface.
During our tests it took three tries before we could install the agent software and update it successfully. VIPRE were keen to point out that this was because the trial account that they set up for us was on the beta version of the platform. These issues don't exist in VIPRE's main production environment.
Once the agent was running it was immediately able to detect the fake computer virus we'd downloaded to our test machine in ZIP format, immediately quarantining the threat.
We next tried to copy a real trojan virus to the test machine's 'Downloads' folder, only for the agent to immediately detect and quarantine it too.
This combined with a colorful and helpful UI definitely make VIPRE an EDR platform to consider.
Read the full Vipre EDR Review.
Best endpoint protection for remote deployment
Reasons to buy
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ESET PROTECT is pitched at small and medium-sized businesses and covers Windows, and macOS, and with certain conditions also extends to Linux, Android and iOS endpoints as well.
The security product brings with it a software firewall, the ability to detect malicious communications over the Internet and then block the offending process that initiated it. You also get a Host-based Intrusion Prevention System (HIPS) that uses a predefined set of rules to identify and stop dubious behavior.
ESET monitors and evaluates all executed applications on the endpoints and based on their reputation and behavior will block any processes that act like ransomware. It keeps an eye on typically exploitable applications such as browsers, document readers, email clients, Flash, Java, and such, to look for identifiable exploitation techniques.
The endpoint bundle also includes the File Security product for Windows Servers and Microsoft Azure that can scan and monitor a connected OneDrive storage and VMs.
During our tests, we found ESET failed to quarantine our fake computer virus in compressed (ZIP) format but as soon as we extracted the file it was detected and deleted.
We also enabled the 'Web Control' feature and tried to visit The Pirate Bay to search for some (legal) downloads of Ubuntu Linux. Although we found we could search torrents, downloading was blocked.
When we logged into the ESET cloud console after running these tests, the 'Detections' section displayed all security alerts.
Read our full ESET PROTECT review.
Best endpoint protection for mobiles
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Reasons to avoid
Trend Micro's Vision One debuted in 2021. It's touted as an XDR (Extended Detection and Response) platform to allow customers to detect and respond to threats from a single console. It uses a 'credits' system to buy licenses for individual products, though in our research we had trouble finding out how much on average it costs to use Vision One specifically.
The platform includes an 'Operations Dashboard' for quickly assessing risks such as user and device vulnerabilities. It even delivers a helpful 'risk index', though we found this was unaffected by detection of a fake virus on our test machine. Trend Vision One's features can be extended by adding various apps.
The 'Security Assessment' app is useful for executing quick scans on remote mailboxes and endpoints. The 'Workbench' app displays alerts in response to threats, while the 'Targeted Attack Detection' app uses threat intelligence from the Trend Micro Smart Protection Network to identify early indicators of attacks.
Another notable feature of Trend Vision One that impressed us is that it does allow you to run simulated attacks on endpoints. Ultimately though we decided to run our own tests in the interests of fairness.
The Agent software provided by the platform immediately detected and quarantined our test virus file, even though it was in compressed (ZIP) format. A short while later, we received an e-mail alert from Trend Micro alerting us to the detection and providing a link to view details in the aforementioned 'Workbench' app.
Read our full Trend Vision One.
Best endpoint protection for detection rates
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
Bitdefender are currently offering a 30% discount on their GravityZone Business Security Platform. Their pricing page defaults to quoting the price for protecting up to 10 devices for one year ($570.49), though you can reduce this to as little as three devices.
The website allows you to make further savings by paying upfront for 2 or 3 years. You can also submit an enquiry for a quote to cover more than 100 devices. Servers count as one device but can only account for 35% of your devices, rounded up: for instance if you sign up for the default 10 devices, then only 4 of these can be servers. This places BitDefender GravityZone Business Security Premium are at the higher end of pricing for endpoint protection platforms.
For our tests we used a fake computer virus, provided by the good people of EICAR. Our initial 'Quick Scan' failed to reveal it but this was unsurprising as these types of scan only seem to check the C:\Windows\System32 folder on our Windows 11.
We next ran a 'Custom' scan to check the 'Downloads' folder specifically where the virus was located. The Bitdefender Agent recognized the virus immediately and quarantined it.
For our final round of tests we tried to download the fake virus directly from the EICAR website several times as a compressed (ZIP) file. In each case the agent either deleted the virus or changed file permissions, so we couldn't access it.
Our only criticism was that we had to open up the agent software to see the detection alerts - other endpoint protection software we've reviewed usually shows a pop up notification as soon as a threat is detected.
Read our full Bitdefender GravityZone Business Security review.
Best endpoint protection for ease of use
Reasons to buy
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WatchGuard was first founded in 1996 and their flagship product was a single firewall program. Since then WatchGuard has created any number of security solutions, as well as acquiring Madrid-based Panda Security in 2020.
WatchGuard allows interested parties to secure up to 100 endpoint devices with a 30-day free trial. From accessing the free trial and examining the various licenses available, we were able to discover there are in fact a number of solutions: WatchGuard Advanced EPP, EDR, EPDR and 'Advanced' EPDR.
For the sake of simplicity we chose a trial of WatchGuard EPP, though this doesn't tell the full story: users can subscribe to additional 'security modules'. These handle tasks like patch management, full disk encryption and multi-factor authentication.
The platforms NGAV (Next-Gen Antivirus) provides detailed, real-time detection and reporting. The agent software (named 'Panda') is compatible with a huge range of devices including Windows, Windows Server, Windows for ARM devices, macOS, Android and iOS. This makes WatchGuard EPP by far the most cross-compatible platform we've ever reviewed.
During our tests we tried to download the agent software and install it to our test machine running Windows 11 but setup failed the first three times. Eventually we rest the test machine and were able to get the Panda agent running the fourth time.
We also tested the platform's malware detection features. We were able to download a fake computer virus in compressed (ZIP) format but as soon as we tried to extract, the agent software immediately detected and quarantined it. Next, we tried to copy a real trojan virus to the 'Downloads' folder of our test machine with the same result.
When we logged into the cloud console however, there were no reports of these threats until we manually clicked the 'sync' option on the Panda Agent. The console then displayed details of the threats in a helpful infographic.
Read the full WatchGuard EPP review.
Best for features
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
Threatlocker is a newcomer to the cybersecurity game - the Florida-based company was only founded in 2017, long after security giants like Symantec and Kaspersky. Still, the company's endpoint security platform has one of the most impressive array of features we've ever seen.
It includes basic features we'd expect to see such as black and whitelisting of applications. We were much more intrigued though to read about Threatlocker's 'Ringfencing' feature, which allows managers to set boundaries for how certain applications interact.
Threatlocker also supports 'Dynamic Network Control' to regulate traffic, as well as open ports only for authorized applications using dynamic ACLs (Access Control Lists) or agent authentications. The Threatlocker website rightly points out that this is an often overlooked security gap for EPPs.
Users can also set time-based policies, so applications can only be accessed and/or perform certain functions at an allotted time during the day.
Threatlocker's extremely friendly and helpful support team, offered to contact us and set up a demo to walk us through the onboarding process. We appreciated the offer but decided to go it alone to see how easy the platform is to use.
Upon login, we found that the main interface is a little spartan. At times it feels more like editing a database rather than editing an online portal. That said, the left hand pane is logically laid out and it's easy to expand sections to see further options. There is, however, a a 'Beta' portal which offers a much more modern-looking UI.
During our tests, when we tried to extract the fake computer virus in compressed (ZIP) format, the Threatlocker Agent immediately changed file permissions to contain the threat. We next tried to copy a real trojan virus to our test machine's 'Downloads' folder, which was also immediately detected and quarantined.
A bare-bones interface is a small price to pay for a platform so powerful and versatile.
Read the full Threatlocker review.
Best endpoint protection software FAQs
What's the difference between consumer and business antivirus protection?
Consumer antivirus tools are designed to protect individual devices from cyber threats. It's suitable if you run your business from just one device that needs protection. On the other hand, business antivirus tools provide protection for a network of devices within an organization. They differ in several other ways including
Setting up consumer antivirus software is pretty easy. You just buy and install it on the device that needs protection. In contrast, business antivirus software works through a centralized management system; an IT administrator can install the software on multiple devices from their control panel. This panel can modify settings, deploy updates, and receive alerts about the devices connected to the organization’s network.
Business antivirus tools are called endpoint security because they protect multiple devices under a single network, and these devices are called endpoints. Any device connected to the network is automatically protected, while in the consumer sphere, you must manually install the software on each device that needs protection.
Another distinction between consumer and business cyber software is that the former is reactive and the latter is proactive. Consumer systems aim to prevent known malware from infecting your device, although some may slip through. If malware slips through, the antivirus software then mounts a defense to prevent it from corrupting the system.
Proactiveness, on the other hand, is more focused on preventing any attack from occurring in the first place than defending against one that has occurred. The software anticipates the threats and works to close any vector that the threat can come from.
Think of the reactive approach as security personnel guarding the door of a building and the proactive approach as a military battalion patrolling the perimeter of a building to identify and eliminate potential threats before they can strike.
Business antivirus software is much more sophisticated than consumer-level ones. Consumer software operates more simply; it scans files on your device for signatures associated with malware. The companies behind these tools have large databases of known malware signatures that their tool runs checks against. But, business cyber software goes more than that. They usually employ artificial intelligence and machine learning to detect threats whose signatures may not be known.
Business software also usually provides extra features outside endpoint protection. For instance, it can come with a virtual private network (VPN) service, a password manager, a registry scanning tool, etc. You may find these extra features on consumer software, but it will likely come at an additional cost, unlike business software where it‘s free.
Business software is more complex than consumer software, so it costs more to buy and maintain. Consumer software usually has a fixed annual or lifetime fee that you can pay for each device, while pricing for business software varies according to the number of devices on the network and other related factors.
Expect to pay much more for endpoint software covering an entire network than you would for consumer software installed on a few devices.
Do I need endpoint security software?
If you need protection for a personal device or just a few devices under your care, endpoint security is not cost-effective. You’re better off with basic cyber tools that safeguard your devices against threats.
However, if you run a business with a significant number of employees, think a few dozen, then it becomes worth it to get endpoint security software. Businesses, not individuals, are the primary targets for data leaks and ransomware operations, so it is worth it to invest in a sophisticated endpoint security solution if you run a large one.
Which endpoint protection software is best for you?
The essential factors to consider when choosing endpoint protection software include
Your software should be able to identify attack patterns and mount a defense to prevent them from infecting your devices. It should have full visibility into the network and constantly monitor the traffic for suspicious activity. If any is detected, you should get a real-time report to take steps that will prevent it from successfully breaking into your network.
Response and Data Recovery
No software is perfect, so even if your endpoint security solution is good at detecting and preventing attacks, some could slip through. Nonetheless, the solution should be able to delete all traces of an attack that slips through its defenses. This way, your files won’t be corrupted or deleted.
A good endpoint solution should also provide tools for regular data backup and recovery. It’s advisable to set up automatic backups for your data at specific intervals, e.g., daily, weekly, or bi-weekly. This way, even if an attacker successfully breaks into your network and locks you out, you can just restore the backup and avoid paying any ransom.
A good endpoint solution should give you considerable administrative control over devices connected to your network. For instance, you should be able to decide who gets access to certain data or not. You could also define different protection rules for different devices, e.g., one device can have weekly automatic backups while another has daily backups because the data on it is more sensitive.
External Device Monitoring
External devices such as USB drives, CDs, and hard disks are one of the most common vectors for introducing attacks into a network. Thus, an ideal endpoint solution should allow you to monitor which external devices are connected to any PC within your network. You can even block external devices from connecting to some PCs that contain very sensitive information. This goes a long way in preventing cyber threats.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
Cybersecurity threats are increasingly becoming sophisticated, some say too sophisticated to be detected by traditional methods. Many endpoint solutions now employ artificial intelligence and machine learning to identify threat patterns and stop them before they can cause issues. It isn’t compulsory for your solution to incorporate these tools but it’s preferable.
How we test
How we tested the best endpoint protection software
To test for the best endpoint protection software we first set up an account with the relevant platform, logged in to the cloud console and downloaded the agent software to our test machine, which contains a clean install of Windows 11. No third-party software is installed besides the platform we're reviewing.
Our aim is always to push each endpoint protection software platform to see how useful its basic tools were and also how easy it was to get to grips with any more advanced tools.
To this end, we make a point of leaving each platform's default settings as is, to see how well it responds to potential threats.
When reviewing the EPPs, our first test is always to download a fake computer virus, provided by EICAR. This file is actually harmless but it's signature exists in almost all antivirus databases for testing purposes.
The file is downloadable from the EICAR website in compressed (ZIP) format. We used the Microsoft Edge browser on our test machine to begin the download. If the EPP offers any web filtering features, we also check to see how the agent reacts to our attempts to visit the website.
Once the fake virus is downloaded, we then try to extract it to the test machine's 'Downloads' folder. A hallmark of an effective EPP is if it can recognize the threat before the file is decompressed and quarantine it. But at the very least we expect the file to be isolated and sanitized after it's extracted.
Our next test is to try to copy a new, real computer virus (usually a trojan virus) to the test machine's 'Downloads' folder. We do this to check that an EPP can detect a threat based on suspicious behavior, not just by comparing file signatures to a database of known malware. If the EPP agent doesn't immediately quarantine the file, we then try to run it to see if the platform will block it or if the machine will be infected.
Our final test is always to log into the EPP's cloud console to see which threats (if any) have been reported. Even if a file has been quarantined, we'd expect to see a report in the main dashboard, ideally providing more information about the threat.
The above Endpoint Protection solutions represent a handful of the products out there. Sadly in a number of cases when we filled in a form on the company website requesting a trial, we either received no response or a representative refused our request.
A number of platforms offered to showcase a product demo or provide marketing material but we felt that TechRadar readers would prefer to read reviews of products we'd tried for ourselves, not to mention the results of our malware detection tests.
Although we're not going to name names here, we encourage all software vendors to cooperate with requests from independent reviewers to try out their products. IT Managers often make a point of visiting websites like TechRadar to read assessments of your platforms before signing up for a trial.
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Brian has over 30 years publishing experience as a writer and editor across a range of computing, technology, and marketing titles. He has been interviewed multiple times for the BBC and been a speaker at international conferences. His specialty on techradar is Software as a Service (SaaS) applications, covering everything from office suites to IT service tools. He is also a science fiction and fantasy author, published as Brian G Turner.