Whether in our personal or professional lives, most of us love the ease of connecting, collaborating, and shopping online, anywhere, anytime and on any device. At the same time, we worry about the increasing privacy and security risks that we expose ourselves to in the digital world. But taking steps to safeguard our activities across myriad social, search, and shopping sites can seem overwhelming and futile. As a result, we simply keep our fingers crossed that our credit card info won’t get stolen or that we’ll unwittingly share things we meant to keep private.
It’s not a lack of security and privacy solutions that keep people from taking action, as there are hundreds of them. But most security and privacy vendors have taken an approach that is hard for many people to warm up to. For the most part, vendors have taken the FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) approach to ratchet up anxiety about potential threats so we’ll buy their solutions to mitigate them. How many times have we read headlines from security vendors such as, “Vendor X Warns of New Android Vulnerabilities ” or “Security Vendor Y Identifies New Facebook Privacy Risks.”
In addition, while many security and privacy solutions get the job done, they’re often designed more for IT managers than users. As a result, end-users don’t use or keep them updated. Much worse, of course, are the black hat vendors that give 'freemium' a bad rap by luring people in with free trials of purported security solutions that turn out to be malware that is designed to create security breaches and mess up your devices.
From FUD to enabling
Enter AVG with a fresh twist: to make it “safer, easier and more enjoyable to live life online.” At its 2014 launch event in New York last week, AVG unveiled its new branding campaign, updates to its antivirus and Internet security offerings, and some new solutions.
AVG’s new campaign speaks directly to users—whether individuals, families or small business users. Instead of using FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) as a motivator, the company is positioning its security and protection solutions as a means for users to take charge of their digital life. AVG gets that most of us like using the Internet to stay connected and conduct business, but that we would like greater peace of mind when we use it.
AVG also reiterated its long-standing commitment to provide robust free versions for its solutions so everyone can gain this peace of mind. For example, AVG AntiVirus FREE 2014 detects, blocks and removes viruses, lets you control who tracks you, clean up your computer—and is sufficient for many users. Meanwhile, the paid version, AVG AntiVirus 2014, does all of the above, plus adds protection against spyware and new encryption capabilities to protect files.
AVG has also added a new File Shredder to all of its solutions (free and paid), which allows you to permanently and completely remove all traces of selected files from your computer. AVG also updated its comprehensive AVG Premium Security 2014, which provides antivirus, privacy and performance for PCs and Android devices. (AVG Linkscanner is a 2013 product that is available for Macs and IOS devices).
The company unveiled new device-specific solutions, such as AVG Safe Browser for iOS devices. This blocks unsafe sites and helps you identify which sites are collecting your data so you can decide if you want to allow, block them or not. For Android users, AVG introduced AVG Cleaner to speed performance and AVG Image Shrinker to shrink and share photos more quickly. AVG also updated its mobile antivirus app, which now supports camera tracking by snapping a photo if it looks like someone has stolen your phone.
AVG also announced AVG CloudCare service module, which will be integrated within AVG’s Managed WorkPlace to provide AVG’s 1500 managed service provider (MSP) partners the ability to remotely monitor their customers’ device security measures from within a single dashboard.
PrivacyFix to manage privacy across social networks
While at the launch event, I installed AVG’s new PrivacyFix tool (a result of AVG’s acquisition of PrivacyChoice in May), which is free and now works on Android and iOS apps as well as all major web browsers. Ironically, at first I couldn’t get this to work because of a program I’d (unfortunately) downloaded a while back called Little Snitch, which is supposed to do x but which I found intrusive and ineffective. Turns out I had never really deleted all of it when I thought I had, and it was interfering with my PrivacyFix install.
With the gracious help of Jim Brock, AVG Vice President, Privacy Products, however, I rid my Mac of Little Snitch and powered up PrivacyFix, which is a very user-friendly tool to analyze your account privacy settings across Facebook, Twitter, Google and LinkedIn. With PrivacyFix, you can:
- View and manage privacy settings for all of these apps from one place. The app identifies where privacy settings are weak, tells you the tradeoffs of increasing or decreasing privacy settings. When you click to change a setting, PrivacyFix opens up the selected settings page in your account, points you to the area you need to fix and tells you how to do it.
- Automatically cull out your 'real' friends from casual acquaintances on Facebook—think Google Circles, but automated—with a 'crowd control' capability.
- Analyze tracking and privacy policies for thousands of websites to inform you of things such as whether they share your data with third parties, or if they’ve had known data breaches.
It also has an interesting feature that shows you how much you are 'worth' to Facebook and Google.
AVG’s approach seems simple, but it has definitely been the road less traveled by security vendors. Instead of starting with all the things you should be scared of and likely don’t want to think about, the campaign focuses on helping you have a better experience doing the things you like to do online.
Of course, positioning alone is not enough. AVG’s willingness to back it up with a broad range of free yet capable offerings provides a solid foundation of trust—as well as a gateway to its paid solutions. And while other vendors struggle to make a freemium formula profitable, AVG formula has been very successful. The vendors’ Q2 2013 was $100.4 million, up 22% from $82.5 million in Q2 2012, while net income was $21.7 million, up 95% from $11.0 million for the same period.
AVG’s strategy aligns with market trends and user behavior. As the variety of devices, sites and things we do online continue to expand and evolve, this course should continue provide positive differentiation for AVG in both consumer and SMB markets.