There are different software products that you can use to protect against cyber threats, some of which include antivirus software and a vulnerability scanner. Research shows that nearly half of all small U.S.-based businesses have sustained a cyber attack in the past year. Depending on the severity of the attack, some small businesses struggle to recover. They are forced to close their doors, instead. With antivirus software and a vulnerability scanner, you can improve your business’s security so that it’s better protected against such attacks.

What Is Antivirus Software?

Also known as anti-malware software, antivirus software is a category of software products that are designed to identify viruses, trojans, ransomware and other malware on a device while also offering solutions to fix it. Most antivirus software products can delete or quarantine infected files. They typically work by scanning computers. During these scans, the antivirus software product will search for “signatures” of an infection. If detected, the antivirus software product will then delete the infected file or quarantine it.

What Is a Vulnerability Scanner?

A vulnerability scanner is a category of software products that are designed to evaluate networks or computers for security vulnerabilities. Like antivirus software, they work via scanning. You can use a vulnerability scanner to scan your business’s network or any of its computers for security vulnerabilities.

Differences Between Antivirus Software and Vulnerability Scanners

While they are both used for cybersecurity purposes, antivirus software and vulnerability scanners aren’t the same. Antivirus software is designed specifically for malware. It’s not necessarily limited to viruses; antivirus software can identify and neutralize most forms of malware. With that said, antivirus software isn’t capable of identifying vulnerabilities. You’ll need to use a vulnerability scanner to identify vulnerabilities on your business’s network or computers.

Vulnerabilities are weaknesses. They can include open ports, default passwords, outdated software and unencrypted files. Vulnerabilities themselves aren’t harmless. As weaknesses, though, they can lead to cyber attacks — and these cyber attacks can harm your business’s network or computers. Rather than waiting until an attack occurs, you can take a proactive approach to prevent them by using a vulnerability scanner.

Vulnerability scanners can perform authenticated and unauthenticated scans. Authenticated scans use administrative protocols, such as secure shell, to scan networks and computers. Unauthenticated scans use an alternative, non-administrative protocol. Regardless, a vulnerability scanner will scan your business’s network and computers for vulnerabilities. You can then fix these vulnerabilities so that they don’t lead to a cyber attack.