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Where is the business on the free antivirus?
All we know all terms of the software business model… you pay a license (a monthly fee) and you are entitled to use a program. And we also understand that when a software or online service is free, it is that the company that has made use of our data, Google and Facebook are the kings in this.
Is it the same way with the antivirus? In the case of paid antivirus yes, so you simply pay a subscription to a license to be able to use them on your Windows computer. But what about the antivirus that is free? How do they get the money I need to keep running?
So here we have a new concept “Freemium” used to use that advance of all the free.
One of the formulas that use free antivirus is precisely to amass a good community
One of the formulas used by free antivirus is to amass a good community of users and take advantage to promote a series of optional services that cost money. It is enough that a certain part of that community accepts to pay and we already have a business that stands on its own: in October Avast valued at two billion dollars and an income of 300 million dollars by 2015 (40% More than last year)
Those responsible for Avast Antivirus describe this in their official website: they have more than 240 million users who use the free base, and are receiving information on specialized payment plans with improvements for both individuals and businesses. It is these payment users who hold “payrolls, rentals, development costs and analysis of new threats coming every day and support from all users.”
However, that has not made Avast have any controversial episode. A few years ago the company had to suspend the alliance with a third party company that was in charge of its technical support, as they appeared suspicions that the support deceived the users to pay for a help that they did not need. Fortunately the problem ended there and Avast was not directly responsible.
Bitdefender is another example of this freemium model (is the most used antivirus in macOS and the first one available in the App Store): a free basic service for everyone, which serves as a basis to offer more complete payment solutions and thus get a group of subscribers who maintain the business. Until in a few months we will not know their income of 2015, but in 2014 they predicted that they would grow 50%.
Are there agreements between companies to point out false threats?
Freemium, installation of malicious programs or with advertising, change of home webs and search engines by default … is there any other method with which a free antivirus can generate money? Hussein Nasser pointed out another in his blog a few years ago that shows us the “creativity” they may have.
The catch you can see above is a warning from an antivirus (Avast free) notifying you that it has detected an “infectious malware” that is actually a patch to skip the license to pay for a game. Okay, this is software made by cracker to play for free a payout game, but nothing beyond that. The suspicion: antivirus companies can charge companies to detect these patches as malicious programs to scare the user.
Caution: this does not mean that patches that crack licenses can not contain malware. In fact, that is a real threat. But there are those who wonder on websites like Quora if anti-virus effectively detect those specific threats or if they simply treat any patch known as malware to motivate them to buy more and crack less.
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