SMBs who want endpoint protection with an emphasis on simplicity will find that Avast’s cloud-managed enterprise security solutions could be a great fit. It’s easy to control costs, too, as Avast offers a range of versions that cover home and small offices with up to ten users, plus Essential, Premium and Ultimate versions that can protect up to 100 devices.
We reviewed Premium Business Security (PBS), which takes all the protection services from the Essential version and adds removable device controls plus Avast’s built-in VPN service to protect workstation Internet connections. The Ultimate version includes Windows patch management and increases annual costs for 25 devices to £1,023.
Installation options are plentiful. You can download the Windows and macOS agents and place them on a central distribution point or send an email downlink to staff and remote workers. LAN deployment can be accelerated by promoting a system to scan agent status, view the list of discovered devices, and push the agent directly from the cloud portal.
Protection starts immediately: Unless otherwise requested, endpoints are assigned a default policy that has all major security services enabled. Policies are a powerful tool and allow you to enable Avast’s CyberCapture Windows service to block unknown files and new threats, real-time anti-malware scanning, application behavior, mail and web activity shields, a client firewall, an extension security browser, anti-spam and a sandbox to run untrusted or unknown applications in a safe environment.
If allowed, users can load the agent interface, view their protection status, run on-demand scans, access the sandbox, and use the webcam shield to block intruders by allowing their camera to be used only for specific applications. Compatible with both Windows and macOS clients, Ransomware Shield protects named files and folders from encryption attempts by untrusted applications.
Mobile support includes Android and iOS devices, but while the apps are included free with every device seat in your subscription, Android users get the lion’s share of security services and none can be managed in the cloud. All we could do with the iOS Security & Privacy app on an iPad was enter our subscription key, create an instant connection to Avast’s VPN service for safe web browsing, and see if the app deemed our Wi-Fi connection safe.
Avast’s cloud management portal gets a major redesign, making it even easier to use, and its simplified dashboard tells you everything you need to know about your security posture. A top table shows all threats broken down into unresolved, quarantined, and resolved status, each providing hot links to view detected threats and compromised endpoints.
A pie chart to the side provides an overview of all protected systems, while below is a real-time chart showing all activity over the last two weeks. The reports don’t see much improvement, as the portal offers a canned set of reports for executive summaries, threats, devices, audit logs, tasks, and USB device usage, with no options to create custom reports.
Avast responds quickly to threats. After introducing genuine malware to our Windows 10 test clients, the agent blocked all of them, and warnings were posted to the dashboard in as little as 30 seconds. We also set up email notifications from the portal, and alerts for all our tests were received in no more than five minutes.
Mobile device management would nicely round out Avast’s endpoint security offering, but we can’t fault the sheer depth of protection features on offer. SMBs will find it easy to implement and manage, while its subscription plans are good value for money.
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