A few weeks ago we published an article called 13 IT Projects to Include in Your Plans for 2013 in which we suggested 13 great IT projects for you to consider; we decided to publish some follow-up articles to help do just that.

Our sixth project suggestion was for antivirus. In the ‘13 for ’13’, here’s what we had to say about antivirus.

Ask yourself this question, and be honest with your answer. Are you satisfied with your current antivirus software? If not, do you really want to spend yet another year dealing with all its flaws? Make this year the year you finally throw out that product you hate and implement antivirus software that actually works.

With that in mind, here are some tips to help you jump start this project.

Have a documented policy

It should go without saying that all systems must run antivirus software 100% of the time, with frequent and regular updates and real time scanning, but it doesn’t. Create a policy that defines exactly what your expectations are for antivirus, publish it, and make it required reading for all systems admins to ensure that no one can claim that they thought it would be okay to turn off antivirus.

Define requirements

A lot of what was in the policy paragraph above will be detailed here. Again, don’t assume everyone will understand that antivirus should be on 100% of all systems. Spell it out. Determine how often you can check for updates from your vendor, and whether you push those out or if clients should check in to the central server for updates. Ensure they have a second place to go (like the vendor’s site) if your central server is offline or the WAN is down. Specify what real-time scanning you want, and the quarantine actions that will occur when malware is found.

Document exceptions and how to obtain them

Many software packages can have problems with antivirus. That doesn’t mean turn it off; it means configure it with the exceptions recommended from the software vendor. You need to account for these exceptions and make it easy for server admins to get the exceptions that they need for their products to work if you expect 100% compliance for all.

Evaluate options

Antivirus software represents a major investment for your company, and will need to be installed on all servers and workstations, so don’t just pick one that looks good. Weigh the pros and cons, and ensure that there are no known issues with any critical apps you already have in the environment.

Test deployments and configurations

Get trial versions of the top two or three candidates, and test them out to see how they do in your network. Determine whether you can push the client pieces out or will have to do installs manually. Don’t forget to account for uninstalls of previous solutions that may be out there, and trying to run two different antivirus real-time scanners on the same system can cause huge problems.

Verify reporting and alerting meet your needs

Antivirus software protections are too important to leave to chance, or to take on faith. You need to verify every week that all systems are running and up-to-date, and if malware does get into your environment, you need to know it immediately. Make sure your antivirus software solution provides the reporting and alerting functions that meet your needs by testing those in your trials. You don’t want to make either reporting or alerting an afterthought to your project, so factor those in up front.

So now you have some tips to help you get started on antivirus as a project, along with some of the key things to be sure you include to make this project a success. Management sponsorship, project management and consensus are all every bit as important as the more technical parts, even if they aren’t quite as sexy. Antivirus software will impact the entire organization, so it’s in the best interest of the entire company to make sure this is a success.


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