One of the core issues with security is that the quality of the security software deployed by individuals tends to vary widely. Some people don’t use and security software, while others opt to use free security software that may not be as robust as commercial security software. The thinking, of course, is that some security software protection is better than none at all.
Now, however, Check Point Software Technologies has decided that in the best interests of all concerned it’s time to make a version of free security software available that is just as good as anything one might pay for. The company this week announced the release of ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus + Firewall 2013, which Bari Abdul, vice president of consumer sales at Check Point Software, says is not only the first time that a free product includes a firewall, but also represents the first time that free security software in on a performance par with commercial software.
In testing performed by AVtest.org, this free offering scored better on protection and performance than a number of paid products currently on the market. Specifically, ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus + Firewall scored 99.42 percent in the detection of malware when the average score for most popular paid products is 98.81 percent. The latest version of ZoneAlarm also scored 100 percent when it came to blocking attacks from websites and 100 percent detection of rootkits.
Check Point Software is obviously hoping that if more consumers rely in on its software will not only upgrade to other ZoneAlarm services, but that more companies will buy it software to secure their networks and servers once ZoneAlarm becomes more ubiquitous.
While Check Point Software has been giving away free anti-virus software for a while, the fact that they have now made that software as good as most commercial software offerings speaks to a larger issue. If we want the Web to be a safe place to conduct business and share information with friends and family, we’re obligated to make that experience as secure as possible in a way that puts as little onus on the end user as possible.
That means that instead of saying they can be secure to a certain level for free, we need to make sure that there’s no financial reason why they are putting themselves and everybody else at risk on the Web. After all, most of the damage that gets done these days involves botnets taking over PCs that don’t have the right level of security protection.
We’re not quite at the point where we can require people to secure their systems before going on the Internet. But the next best thing is to make sure there is no excuse short of pure laziness for why a system might not be secure. While the people that sell commercial security software may not think that’s a great idea, the collective benefit to the Web community as a whole far outweighs the needs of the few to make money.