Is free anti-malware software sustainable

Is free anti-malware software sustainable

One of the consequences of Google releasing Google Reader years ago was that it functionally killed off 3rdparty RSS readers. In the case of RSS readers, it was going to be close to impossible to get people to pay money for your product when Google was giving away a product that did most of what you needed it to do for nothing.

When Google announced earlier this month that it was euthanizing Reader, what became instantly apparent was that while there were alternatives about, most of them had always assumed that they’d be playing a small part in the RSS reader ecosystem – many them had problems dealing with the massive increase in traffic as exiles from Google reader rushed to other systems.

Which brings me to the point of free anti-malware software. There’s always been free anti-malware software about. For years I used AVG before transitioning to MSE and now I’m using Avira (after I found MSE behaving oddly). The main point is that I’ve gravitated towards the free offerings because … well they’re free.

I’m also aware that malware creation is an industry. That the sophisticated stuff is getting written because people are being paid to write it and that the image of malware authors as scruffy nerds sitting in basements is out of date.

The prevalence of free anti-malware software might be hindering the creation of more effective anti-malware software. Who has the money to invest in creating more effective anti-malware software when there’s little chance of return as the popular stuff is always free?

Is the “free anti-malware” model sustainable as malware becomes increasingly sophisticated, or is it going to be a bit like RSS and Google reader, where the presence of dominant free products inhibits the growth of more sustainable paid alternatives?

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on Apr 2, 2013

Malware can be the result of using pirated software. Report software piracy confidentially to BSA. http://bit.ly/Z6GDEk

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Orin Thomas is a contributing editor for Windows IT Pro and a Windows Security MVP. He has authored or coauthored more than thirty books for Microsoft Press, founded the Melbourne System Center,...
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