Editor’s Note: We’d like to welcome Chris Schwartzbauer, our latest guest blogger. For more about Chris, please see the accompanying post with his bio information.
By Chris Schwartzbauer
Microsoft’s offering of free anti-virus software is like everything that Microsoft has ever done in the security market. Each time Microsoft has dipped its toe into the security market, it’s been a great indicator of a pent up need and a market opportunity. More than 10 years ago when Microsoft announced its “firewall,” it was an indication that there was a mainstream need for firewalls. No longer was network security a problem only for NSA and PhD computer scientists. The market needed an easy-to-manage security product. But in the years following, companies like Check Point Software and Secure Computing (now McAfee) continued to thrive.
The announcement of free, “lightweight AV” is another case of foreshadowing. The need to keep malicious code off of computers is a mainstream problem and the market is saying that the current, heavy solutions from the market leaders aren’t getting the job done. The products once known as anti-virus solutions are now very large applications with lots of extras that are sucking up computer processing power and memory, but still not getting the basics done.
The recent Conficker virus is demonstrable proof of this. Conficker was a big scare, and many think that it didn’t do any real damage. But in my estimation, based on incidents in the news and other real world feedback from customers and partners, the amount of money spent to rebuild systems, detect the malware, and take corrective actions has added up to many millions of dollars. This week, I was at one of the largest outsourcing companies in the world where a client manager said that he spent more than 40 hours in the last two weeks chasing Conficker – for the second time. When I asked what he was doing to try and fix it, he was using AV products from both of the top two market leaders. The products, he said, were not getting it done because they were too clumsy and difficult to deploy to all of their remote systems.
To Microsoft’s credit, they recognize that the market needs lightweight, easy to manage solutions to address malware, configuration, and patch management to combat the threats. In all likelihood, Microsoft will not adequately address the needs of enterprise organizations, but many other companies like ESET, SunBelt Software and Shavlik Technologies are responding with lightweight AV solutions offered for little or no charge.