Why You Should Sell Antivirus Solutions To All Your Customers
The growth in computer
security threats means all VARs can benefit by offering antivirus
Customers Are Seeking Antivirus Solutions
The most noticeable trend in security threat management is the changing motivation behind online threats. Historically, amateurs or hackers wrote viruses with the intent of causing network disruptions or simply for notoriety. Virus writers today are much more sophisticated. According to Steve Orenberg, president of Kaspersky Lab, Inc., “The majority of malware [any malicious virus, worm, Trojan, or spyware threat] is being written for illegal financial gain.” Kaspersky’s virus lab found that 76% of new viruses are written for financial gain.
This financial motive makes businesses more vulnerable, particularly because the new virus attacks are more covert than they used to be. The new threats range from phishing and spoofing attempts to spyware programs that are actually funded by legitimate outlets. “Many new threats have been developed and released in order to capture financial information and online behavior data for targeted marketing purposes,” says Andrew Lee, chief technology officer of antivirus vendor ESET LLC.
Until recently, end user companies had been trying to implement and manage a number of point solutions to address the various emerging threats. After struggling with how to manage all of these solutions, however, end users are now looking for a way to consolidate these various point solutions under one manageable security solution umbrella. VARs that can provide comprehensive solutions that guard against the broad variety of malware are well positioned to earn additional revenues from new and existing customers.
Education, Entertainment Industries Are
While security is a concern in every industry, some, such as the education market, are more sensitive to threats and attacks than others. Academic institutions are filled with younger users who tend to be early adopters of innovative technologies. As a result, these institutions are exposed to more numerous threats than, say, manufacturing companies. IT administrators at education institutions are seeking security solutions that can protect their networks from the newest threats made possible by cutting-edge technologies.
The entertainment industry is also ripe for effective antivirus solutions. As digital media becomes available on demand, piracy is quickly becoming a major concern, and media companies are looking for ways to protect their music and video CDs and DVDs against piracy and copying. This protection is needed not just at the consumer level, but throughout the various stages of production and distribution. Finally, you can’t talk about security without also considering government agencies and organizations. Any VAR that works with state and local governments should offer security threat solutions. The nature of the data and information governments are processing and storing demands that it be protected from the newest malicious viruses and attacks.
Antivirus Is Not Just For Security VARs
Many VARs make the mistake of not offering antivirus solutions because they think that should be left to security VARs, or they don’t believe they have the expertise to offer these solutions. According to industry insiders, that is a fallacy. Every device with an IP (Internet Protocol) address needs an antivirus solution, and it is each VAR’s responsibility to recommend one to its customers.
“It is no longer sufficient for a VAR to just be knowledgeable on security products,” explains Peter Lipa, president of antivirus vendor Grisoft, Inc. “Rather, VARs should be proactively including them in their solutions and encouraging customers to stay protected.” VARs are in a good position to help companies keep their antivirus solutions up to date.
VARs need to be aware that while end users may perceive antivirus solutions as a commodity product – one antivirus solution is as good as another – there are significant technological and service differences among vendors. “VARs should investigate the service and delivery differences among products before recommending a specific solution,” advises Kaspersky’s Orenberg. There are several differentiated solutions available to VARs besides the mainstream solutions. Margins on these offerings can range from 20% to 40%.
The field of antivirus moves rapidly, as threats evolve and change constantly. For this reason, VARs need to research the different options available before selecting a solution. Some questions that should be asked include: How quickly are the vendors able to respond to new threats and add defenses against the new threats to their signature files? How often are the signature file updates made available to customers (i.e. monthly, weekly, daily, hourly)? How large are these update files and what impact will they have on network resources? Does the antivirus solution use signature files or behavior algorithms to detect threats? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each?
In addition to the technical questions VARs should ask, there are support questions that should be addressed. What training is available to the VAR? Are there certifications it needs to obtain and maintain? What support materials are available? How quickly does the vendor respond when a threat is discovered? The better educated a VAR is regarding the functioning, strengths, and weaknesses of the solution and the vendor’s support and training, the better it will be able to serve and retain its customers.
Compared with other technologies, end users have simple requirements for antivirus solutions. “Customers want a solution that keeps them protected, is unobtrusive [runs behind the scenes], and is light on system resources so it doesn’t bog down their computers,” says Grisoft’s Lipa. People rely heavily on technology today and have a huge emotional and financial investment in it. The expectation is their technology will improve their work and lifestyles, so they want their antivirus to work consistently while being easy to manage and update.
It’s an advantage for VARs that most users are aware that there are threats in the form of malicious attacks and undesirable software that can compromise the integrity and functionality of their systems. These customers know there are solutions available to mitigate such threats. The challenge VARs face is making sure they keep their customers’ antivirus solutions updated. You don’t want to be the one whose customer was infected by a new virus while running the antivirus solution you installed.