We consistently get the question from small business owners & others: “Why should I pay for anti-virus/anti-malware if I can get it for free?” Well now! Free, how can you beat that?!? In simple non-technical terms it boils down to how effective your anti-malware suite will be at protecting you. There are several unbiased 3 party testing labs (Virus Bulletin AV-Comparatives Av-Test, ICSA Labs) and they come to a consistent consensus on this issue. Generally, I recommend that companies invest in a quality, commercially supported anti-malware suite as part of a coordinated defense in depth focused security strategy.
Commercially Supported Anti-Malware is More Effective
Paid anti-virus/anti-malware solutions are generally much for effective on the broad range of threats your organization faces. Security threats go far beyond traditional viruses to the whole class of malware such as trojans, rootkits, remote access toolkits, worms, etc. Free solutions don’t address the full depth and breath of these threats.
Ever Evolving Malware
Cybercriminals have a strong and often singular motive – profit. They use malware to profit to the tune of billions of dollars a year. Malware development has all the trapping of professional software development – so we can expect that the malware itself will continue to adapt to our attempts to detect and disable it. Don’t expect this to change but rather expect the ever present evolution of these devious technologies. That said, it makes sense to go with commercial solution which has its development efforts on the pulse of these threats.
There is NO Cure-all
Anti-malware suites are in no way a panacea for security concerns but a important part of a larger security picture. I.e. simply having an anti-virus solution doesn’t shield you from security threats but it does lessen and potentially control your risk.
In conclusion, investing in an anti-malware suite is a smart choice. It is one that I & others in the security space emphatically recommend you have as a component of your IT efforts.