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Avast Premium Business Security review: Feature-rich endpoint management for SMBs

Avast delivers a wealth of tough, easily managed endpoint protection measures at a good price

Avast Premium Business Security interface
Price
£841 (25 devices) per year exc VAT
  • Lots of installation options
  • Simplified cloud management

SMBs that want endpoint protection with an emphasis on simplicity will find Avast's cloud-managed business security solutions could fit the bill nicely. It's easy to control costs, too, with Avast offering a range of versions covering home and small offices with up to ten users, plus Essential, Premium and Ultimate versions which can all 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 for securing workstation internet connections. The Ultimate version includes Windows patch management and increases yearly costs for 25 devices to £1,023.

Installation choices are plentiful. You can download the Windows and macOS agents and place them in a central distribution point or email a downlink to staff and remote workers. LAN deployment can be sped up by promoting one system to scanning agent status, viewing the list of discovered devices and pushing the agent to them directly from the cloud portal.

Protection starts immediately: unless otherwise requested, endpoints are assigned a default policy that has all the main security services enabled. Policies are a powerful tool and allow you to enable Avast's CyberCapture Windows service for blocking unknown files and new threats, real-time anti-malware scanning, app behaviour, mail and web activity shields, a client firewall, a security browser extension, anti-spam and a sandbox for running untrusted or unknown apps in a safe environment.

If permitted, users can load the agent interface, view their protection status, run on-demand scans, access the sandbox and use the webcam shield to block snoopers by only permitting their camera to be used by specific apps. Supporting Windows and macOS clients, the ransomware shield protects nominated files and folders from encryption attempts by untrusted apps.

Mobile support includes Android and iOS devices, but although the apps are included free with every device seat in your subscription, Android users get the lion's share of security services and neither can be cloud-managed. 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 secure web browsing and see if the app considered our Wi-Fi connection safe.

The Avast cloud management portal sees a substantial 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, with each providing hot links for viewing detected threats and compromised endpoints.

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Whitepaper cover with image of a cloud with seven arrows over it pointing upwards

A pie chart alongside provides an overview of all protected systems, while below is a real-time graph showing all activity for the past two weeks. Reporting doesn't see many improvements, with the portal offering a set of canned reports for executive summaries, threats, devices, audit logs, tasks and USB device usage, with no options to create custom ones.

Avast responds quickly to threats. After introducing genuine malware to our test Windows 10 clients, the agent blocked every one and warnings were posted in the dashboard in as little as 30 seconds. We also set up email notifications from the portal, and alerts for all of our tests were received in no more than five minutes. 

Mobile device management would round out Avast's endpoint security offering nicely, but we can't fault it for the sheer depth of protection features on offer. SMBs will find it simple to deploy and easily managed, while its subscription plans are good value.

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