Few parts of the IT industry move as fast as the security sector. In the past six months, the channel has had to become accustomed to a variety of new buzzwords, technologies and concepts such as whitelisting, dynamic and behavioural analysis and cloud computing.
However, despite the exponential growth of new technologies, some would argue that there is a consolidation of features amongst the main names in the security sector, with a variety of features being rolled in to a single package. “Mainstream vendors are consolidating a diversity of approaches into a single product,” says ESET’s director of malware intelligence David Harley. This is a point that BullGuard’s sales director Alan Case agrees with: “Many vendors are taking a broader view on their main product.”
He believes security software goes far beyond just the various technologies, suggesting that the solution is to take in other things such as data back-up. “So far, the focus has been on protecting hardware. By doing so, the data stored on it has been protected but it has been done as an afterthought. Now though, we’re seeing the focus shifting, resulting in a growing attention to convenience. Consequently, security products now include designated features to specifically protect the data itself, such as backup functionality.”
F-Secure’s UK country manager Pekka Mettala echoes that view: “Online backup is set to be the big trend for security software in 2009. Today’s electronic generation are never without their laptops, cameras and iPods – devices that are full of valuable data that they’d be lost without.”
Soft but strong
However, it isn’t just backup that Mettala feels is a major feature of the current security landscape: “There is a real demand for internet security products that work in the background, updating regularly so the customer doesn’t have to worry about anything.”
It’s a point Symantec’s vice president for consumer sales, Lee Sharrocks picks up on too: “There has been an increasing requirement from the consumer for faster, lighter and less obtrusive security solutions that don’t take up precious PC resources or require users to make difficult security decisions about what to allow or deny online.”
It isn’t just changes in technologies or approaches that have characterised the upheaval of the past six months. “Whilst PC owners are increasingly aware of the threat posted by cybercrime and the need for upto- date security software, their mobiles haven’t traditionally been a target,” argues David Emm, a member of the Global Research and Analysis Team at Kaspersky Labs. “There have recently been several malicious programs developed for mobile devices – in particular on smartphones – and this has alerted people to the need to protect all of their devices.”
Almost all of the vendors that PC Retail spoke to were united in the message that education is crucial to successfully retailing security. “The key to selling is being able to educate users why they need security,” says Bit Defender’s UK country manager Nick Billington. “Now that we’re in a recession, it is even more important to educate customers why security isn’t an option; it’s a necessity.”
AVG’s vice president for the UK and Ireland Michael Foreman says: “Retailers should be aware of the fact that many consumers are risk takers with no protection, especially given the economic impact we are experiencing. People want to save money when it comes to internet security software; something that its exacerbated by the current financial crisis.”
Panda UK country manager Dominic Hoskins agrees, adding that using examples of the risks posed by unsecured systems – especially those present in a recession – is another way of educating customers. “Retailers should educate all customers on the need for protection, in particular highlighting the heightened importance of protecting identity and finances against the high levels of fraudulent activity that occur during periods of economic uncertainty.”
Knowledge = Sales
It is crucial to understand the software yourself if you are to convince customers that it is a necessity rather than a luxury. Gone are the days when the salesman could convince the customer with the casual line of ‘Yeah, I’ve got it installed on my PC. It’s pretty good.’
“The greater the knowledge, the happier floor staff will be to talk about the product you are trying to sell and the more confidence the customer will have in buying it from you,” argues Weboot’s EMEA managing director Nick Banks. However, a lack of knowledge about security software isn’t just the difference between a sale and a missed opportunity, as BullGuard’s UK sales director Alan Case explains. “Understanding the product and grasping how that product meets the end user’s needs is crucial. Recommend the wrong product – or worse, an unnecessary one – and you might lose the confidence of the customer with other purchases.”
Convincing the customer of the need for a security suite is a feat in itself, however in these days of less disposable income, it is becoming more and more crucial to ensure maximum value – or at least the perception of it. “Retailers should be prepared to offer packages or bundle software with hardware and other items,” says Case. “Offering these sorts of deals – especially in the current economic climate – will enable customers to continue spending.” The other side of this, as Brook argues is making sure that these promotions are well supported.
Blue Solutions, Entatech, Gem, Spire Technology, Target
BullGuard’s security product line is solely focused on the consumer market, with a variety of SKUs for the average person on the street. These include internet security, antivirus, gamer editions (designed to minimise the impact on systems playing the latest games) and smartphone security.
Internet Security 8.5 includes a brand new firewall, designed to provide improved protection without impacting the system’s speed, a new spam filter that is optimised for performance, and comprehensive protection against phishing. It also has increased protection against rootkits, proactive website scanning and updates every two hours to prevent prolonged downloads.
Bell Micro, Blue Solutions, Computer 2000, Gem, Ingram Micro, Micro Warehouse
Symantec has totally rebuilt its market-leading security range, with a focus on protection and an emphasis on keeping the load on the system as low as is possible. Symantec claims that its latest product, Internet Security 2009 is ‘fast, comprehensive and provides up-to-the-minute protection against online threats.’
Its popular antivirus suite also received an overhaul designed to provide continuous protection against viruses, spyware, worms, bots and other threats without impacting the usability of the system.
Both benefit from Norton’s protection system, which updates every five to fifteen minutes to minimise time spent updating, employs white listing to cut down on unnecessary scanning, browser and botnet protection, as well as Norton's own pre-emptive protection against undefined threats.
Designed to be one of the most comprehensive security suites on the market today, ESET's NOD32 and Smart Security is based upon its ThreatSense heuristics technology. It offers proactive protection, precise detection, lightweight design and fast scanning speeds. The latest version offers full support for Windows 2000, XP and Vista, as well as full integration with Windows’ Security Centre. The system also boasts improved cleaning and automatically removes detected threats.
Publisher: AVG Technologies
AVG’s internet security suite pulls together the vendor’s anti-virus, antispyware, anti-spam, web protection and firewall software into one package. Used on over 80 million computers worldwide, AVG’s software features high-speed automatic updates and unique internet security technology. It also comes with a suite of real time security tools making it ideal for installation on PCs destined for use by less-technically minded users. Its Web Shield and LinkScanner technologies checks websites before any compromised code manages to make it on to the users PC, preventing most accidental infections.
Publisher: Kaspersky Labs
CMI Labs, Entatech, Ingram Micro, Koch Media, Spire Technology
Internet Security 2009 from Kaspersky not only provides what the vendor describes as ‘essential protection’ from viruses, Trojans and worms, as well as spyware and adware, it also scans files, email and internet traffic, protects instant messaging programs and provides proactive protection from unknown threats.
It also comes with two-way personal firewalls, Wi-Fi and VPN protection and intrusion protection. On top of that, it counters the rising tide of viruses and malware that can disable or stop security software by employing technology to prevent protection being affected.
Blue Solutions, Computer 2000, Interactive Ideas, Realtime Distribution, Westcon Group
Pitched as a maintenance-free and easy to use security solution, FSecure's latest package protects against online threats such as viruses, spam and other dangers from the internet.
The vendor also claims it has the fastest update service and the most powerful personal firewall, designed for use across both desktop and laptop computers. Its user interface has also been designed so that it is as easy to use as is possible, but still allows a rich set of features for advanced users.
BIT DEFENDER RANGE
Publisher: Bit Defender
Multimedia, Interactive Ideas
‘Comprehensive proactive protection, without slowing down your PC’ – that is the claim BitDefender makes about the latest edition of its security software package.
With improved scanning functionality for the web, email, instant messaging and proactive heuristics, BitDefender Total Security 2009 can protect against phishing, the theft of personal information via leakage, as well as the usual raft of viruses, trojans and spyware. It also comes with strong parental controls including the ability to restrict children's access to inappropriate websites and emails, as well as limiting the amount of time they can spend on the internet and applications.
Blue Solutions, Micro-P, Northamber
Available in three packages – Antivirus Pro, Internet Security and Global Protection – Panda’s solutions protect against malware and identity theft thanks to its anti-malware, antiphishing and anti-banking Trojan engines. Its Internet Security and Global Protection editions also bring the benefit of antispam filters, parental controls and web filters, as well as information filters, which are designed to protect against active keyloggers.
The Global Protection edition also offers 2GB of online backup space that can be configured to automatically protect all types of file, as well as a tool to speed up the performance of the PC.
Publisher: Webroot Software
Designed as a streamlined software solution, Webroot’s Internet Security Essentials – or WISE for short – provides comprehensive protection in a slimline program. The upshot of this approach is that while it is fully featured, it minimises the impact it has upon the PC and therefore reduces the risk of the software being turned off or uninstalled. WISE also comes with dedicated online back up space, with the added benefit of being able to access those files from any computer in the world.
Aspect Systems: 01202 548 888
AVG Technology: 01636 670 720
Bell Micro: 0208 410 7995
Blue Solutions: 01189 898 222
CMI Labs: 0870 780 1030
Computer 2000: 0870 060 3344
Entatech: 0870 770 9588
Focus Multimedia: 01889 570 156
Gem: 01279 822 822
Ingram Micro: 0870 405 3000
Interactive Ideas: 0208 805 1000
Koch Media: 0870 027 0985
Micro-P North: 01282 776 776
Micro-P South: 01256 707 505
Micro Warehouse: +353 1 616 0400
Northamber: 0208 296 7066
Realtime Distribution: 01480 435 881
Spire Technology: 0870 750 5100
Target Components: 01977 739 300
Westcon Group: 0845 644 2564