We all understand the software business model: you pay a license (or a monthly fee) and have the right to use a program. And we also understand that when a software or online service is free, then the company is that it has achieved revenues otherwise taking advantage of things like our data. Google and Facebook are the kings on this.
Is it translates in the same way with the antivirus? In the case of paid antivirus yes, because you simply pay a subscription or a license to use on your Windows computer. But what about the virus that they are free? How do they get the money they need to keep running?
The model “freemium” to take care of it for free
One of the formulas that use the free antivirus is precisely amassed a good community of users and use to you promote them a number of optional services that cost money. Just enough that some part of that community agrees to pay and we have a business that holds itself: in October Avast was valued at two billion dollars and revenues of $ 300 million for 2015 were expected (40% more than last year).
Avast Antivirus makers describe it well on its official website: have over 230 million users using the free base, and they will receive information on payment plans specialized improvements for both individuals and businesses. Paying users are those who hold “payroll, rents, costs of developing and analyzing new threats that arrive daily and support of all users.”
However, that has not done that Avast has had some controversial episode. Four years ago the company had to suspend the alliance with a third party company that was responsible for their support, as were suspicions that said support tricked users for them to pay for help that did not need. Fortunately, the problem ended there and Avast was not directly responsible.
Bitdefender is another example of this freemium model: a free basic service for everyone, which serves as a basis to offer complete solutions for payment and thus get a group of subscribers to keep the business. Until a few months will not know their income from 2015, but in 2014 foresaw that they would grow 50%.
Scareware, Adware, and other methods “express” for income
Unfortunately, the freemium model is not spared of having unethical practices. How to Geek has a “catalog of horrors” we demonstrated: Many security programs resort to gimmicks like change your search engine the default on your browser, settle those horrible toolbars that are useless in it, or installing adware on the absurd form of utilities on your computer? The latter usually does AVG in its free services, and its fiscal year 2015 has been a record: 428.3 million dollars in revenue.
Avast also again become an example here: in October 2014, the company was accused of using adware to collect the browsing history of users, which the director of program operations belief in their support forums.
Avira wants to install extensions of adware, ZoneAlarm wants to place its official website homepage of your browser, Panda Free want to place Yahoo as default search engine in the browser … all free solutions have an occasional promotion. And when it gives you legitimate software no problem, the trouble comes when you install utility will have no more than affect the performance of your computer and put you more ads in the account.
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And of course, there are cases like MacKeeper, with an advertising campaign so aggressive that many users end up hating the software. In my training, I have found many Mac users that not even know they have MacKeeper installed since only need to click on one of these banners disguised as system messages so that everything is installed without your permission.
In fact, MacKeeper could be considered a good example of the concept of Scareware because exaggerates safety hazards to cause false sense that the application is essential. The program managers have faced much criticism and have come even to denounce who criticized them negatively. The worst thing is that this style of business works for them because these allegations figures included 650,000 licenses sold in the United States. And that means 26 million dollars in revenue.
Are there any agreements between companies to indicate false threats?
Freemium, installation of malicious programs or advertising, websites change start and default search engine … is there any other method by which a free antivirus can make money? Hussein Nasser said another in his blog a few years ago that shows “creativity” that can have.
The catch that you can see above is a warning of a virus, warning that it has detected an “infectious malware” which is actually a patch to skip the license payment of a game. Okay, this is done by software cracker to play for free to a paid game, but nothing beyond that. Suspicion: the antivirus companies can charge to detect these malicious programs parched adores as to scare the user.
Caution: this does not mean that the patches cracker licenses may not contain malware. In fact, that is a real threat. But there are those who ask in sites like Quora if the antivirus effectively detects these specific threats or simply treat any patch known as malware to motivate them to buy more and cracked less.