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The Antivirus Industry

Most computer enthusiasts in the United States have heard of the foremost American antivirus manufacturers. Producers such as Symantec, McAfee, Computer Associates, and Trend Micro. These organizations have a market leading presence in the United States. Microsoft, too, has plans to become a major player in this enormous growth industry.

In fact, Microsoft bought intellectual property and technology rights from GeCad software in 2003, a company based in Bucharest, Romania. They also acquired Pelican Software, which had a behaviour based security product, as well as the Giant Company Software for spyware and Sybari Software, which managed virus, spam, and phishing filtering.

A great deal of discussion centered on whether Microsoft would end up in a dominant position in the antivirus market by merely bundling its newly acquired software technologies up with its Windows operating systems at no cost. This is a comparable technique that has been applied in other markets such as word processing and Internet browsers. In fact, this is exactly what did happen. Microsoft has come out with a free product called Microsoft Security Essentials.

It is too soon for me to advise whether MS Security Essentials is a world-class antivirus product, but it is not free to everyone. Microsoft has been battling Windows piracy for a while now with its Windows Genuine Advantage sneaky download and sure enough, this new product from Microsoft will only work on Windows systems and even then, only with operating systems that pass the Windows Genuine Advantage test. (Please click the link at the bottom the page to find out more).

There is nothing wrong with that per se, but it does mean that hardly anyone in the Third World will be able to make use of it, because a pirated operating system comes bundled with every computer that I have ever seen in Asia and probably elsewhere too. People save for years in order to afford a computer and the last thing they worry about when they plug it in is whether the operating system is genuine or not.

Of course there is a number of other antivirus manufacturers prominent in this market. There are many companies with great market presence in other countries that are starting to become more widely recognized. These vendors include GriSoft from the Czech Republic, Sophos from the United Kingdom, Panda Software from Spain, Kaspersky from Russia, SoftWin from Romania, F-Secure from Finland, Norman from Norway, Arcabit from Poland, VirusBuster from Hungary, Nod from Thailand and AhnLab from South Korea.

It is not yet apparent where the industry is heading and everyone in this market is confronted by a swiftly changing landscape. The amount of effort necessary to discover and deliver updates for new viruses is quite staggering. Malicious programs are getting more and more complex and the quantity of them is increasing.

Many companies may find themselves without the capital to equal the hard work of those truly determined to create chaos. The antivirus companies are receiving hundreds of new examples of viruses a day! What is more, the new viruses are getting "cleverer" in that they spread themselves quickly and they often hide themselves too. Some are even intelligent enough to move around in a system by renaming themselves in an effort to make it hard to remove them.


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