Will Kaspersky’s free antivirus software set a precedent?

With Kaspersky finally launching its much-hyped free antivirus software, it begs the question whether or not other security firms will feel the pressure and follow suit. Working on the antivirus software for some 18 months, founder Eugene Kaspersky took to his blog to announce that it is now ready to be rolled out worldwide.

“I’ve some fantastic, earth-shattering-saving news: we’re announcing the global launch of Kaspersky Free, which, as you may have guessed by the title, is completely free-of-charge,” Kaspersky wrote in his usual enthusiastic manner. “Last year the product successfully piloted in the Russia-Ukraine-Belarus region, in China, and also in the Nordic countries. The roll-out won’t be fully global instantaneously; it’s going to be done over four months in waves as per different regions. The first wave will be the U.S.A., Canada, and many of the Asia Pacific countries. September: India, Hong Kong, Middle East, Africa, Turkey and Latin America. October: Europe, Japan and South Korea. November: Vietnam and Thailand. And that, I do believe, will be it – the whole planet covered.”

Unlike many other free products, Kaspersky has confirmed that its product wont be riddled with adverts and pop-ups offering ad-ons. And with cybersecurity more in the public consciousness than ever before – following the recent spate of high-profile malware and ransomware attacks – the pressure will be on other vendors to follow Kaspersky’s lead.

However, trust in a vendor – which unfortunately Kaspersky has lost over the last few months, in the US anyway – may outweigh free products in the mind of the consumer. As Morten Kjaersgaard and Alan Case from Heimdal Security point out, ‘when customers start to see you as an advisor instead of a person trying to get them to buy something’, that is when the relationship is working.

“When that transformation of trust in your relationship happens, you can then position additional services like Professional Services (vulnerability assessments, gap analysis, security assessments) which will add 80-90% margin line items to your wheelhouse and drive that relationship closer so your competition can not.

“Another option I typically see in the Security as a service offering is managed services, where you as the partner take ownership of running the products and deal with it so the customer doesn’t. This however requires you as the partner to invest heavily within a vendor portfolio and take a lot of risks in the early stages. However, if it pays off the monthly recurring revenue is something that will see your run rate grow higher every year.”

Whether or not Kaspersky’s giveaway will help them reclaim the trust of the public remains to be seen. Either way, it will be interesting to see if any other vendors follow the lead.

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