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Security is no free ride

01 Mar 10

Ever since the concept of giving away free basic anti-virus protection was introduced as a revolutionary market changer more than a decade ago, security vendors have used this as a method of entry into the market.

Security vendors provide free basic products so that they can up-sell users to better, paid-for products. These vendors typically have reseller channel programs and encourage you to tap into the revenue stream as well. So what do you need to know to up-sell a user?

Well, the free security products available simply aren’t good enough to ensure users can be truly safe while banking, shopping, gaming, downloading and chatting online. Here’s why:

The bad guys want something

Once upon a time most security threats were hackers having ‘fun’, but that era is a distant memory. Today it’s all about cyber criminals wanting one of three things: to steal money from the user (eg: Nigerian scams, lottery wins); to get enough details about the user’s identity so they can use it to steal from others (eg: credit card fraud); or to steal the user’s PC resources and internet bandwidth (ie: host and serve up malware, spam, adult and child pornography). Imagine the horror of being found with child pornography on your computer simply because free security software didn’t stop your machine becoming part of a botnet. Once you properly explain to people the implications of falling victim to cyber criminals, they want to buy the best internet security suite or business security solution they can.

Not enough layers of protection – basic security means limited protection

To be truly safe online today, your customers need multiple layers of protection: anti-virus, anti-spyware, anti-rootkit, anti-phishing, anti-spam, anti-botnet, enhanced two-way firewall, identity protection, etc. Free products typically only provide one to three basic layers of protection, with limits on updates. Paid anti-virus products typically deliver the essential five or so protection layers. Most paid internet security solutions deliver the full suite of protection layers available. Interestingly, 80% of people buying security products buy the full suite of internet security solutions – informed users buy all the protection they can get.

Multiple free security products – inefficient and resource-hungry

The most common complaint about security programs is that they use too many system resources and slow systems down. However, using multiple free security products to cover the required protection layers is a false economy. These products double up on protection layers, which is inherently inefficient. And because they aren’t designed to work well together, system resources are wasted. While 90% of people have a PC security program installed, when their setup is checked, typically only 50% have up-to-date, working protection. Trying to keep multiple free security products up to date simply compounds this problem. A paid-for internet security suite solution, where all of the multiple security layers are designed to work efficiently together, with one easy ‘set and forget’ update process, provides your customers with complete peace of mind.

There’s no such thing as a free business lunch

The vast majority of free security products are only licensed for use on one home computer for non-commercial purposes. Thus home users and business users wanting to protect multiple PCs can only do so legally with paid security solutions. Besides, free security products typically won’t protect network drives and servers. SMBs with workstations, file and email servers need business security solutions with centralised and remote system management capabilities.

Free means little or no support

Free security products come without telephone or onsite support. At best there may be support forums available for these products. Thus if the limited protection layers of a free product let some malware through, your customers will be pretty much on their own when it comes to resolving the resulting problems. Hopefully they will turn to their helpful reseller and pay for a fix. And that’s also a great time to up-sell them to an internet security suite solution.

It’s certainly worth every reseller’s while to up-sell free security product users to paid internet security solutions. Excellent margins are available on the sale, plus you can tap into the annuity income from licence renewals.