Vendors Need Differentiation in Antivirus Game

With a rising tide of sophisticated threats and almost daily release of specialized threat solutions, what does antivirus need to stay competitive?

Well, a lot. To that end, endpoint security firm F-Secure Corp. is heralding detection capabilities to stay in the race with Client Security, the latest version of its endpoint security product. Like increasingly more antivirus solutions, it is equipped with advanced threat detection technology designed to nab modern malware and stay in the endpoint security game.

Like many of its competitors, F-Secure touts a high detection rate — a differentiator powered by its DeepGuard 4 detection engine, which relies on heuristical, behavioral and reputation-based technologies to combat malware.

The elevated detection message is one that F-Secure is hitting hard, saying the DeepGuard engine performs at 98 to 100 percent, compared to industry averages hovering around 90 percent.

The endpoint security offering is complemented by the F-Secure Policy Manager, a central management console that enables solution providers to govern workstations, servers and remote offices via one pane. Both offerings are available through F-Secure’s reseller partners.

In many ways, F-Secure’s latest release isn’t too different from other competitive endpoint security products. In short: It’s not your mother’s antivirus, nor is it the antivirus from a few years ago. But it’s no secret that, to stay competitive, it can’t be — for a lot of reasons.

For one, the antivirus market has been commoditized way past the point of profitability. Antivirus as a standalone solution is less effective at detecting and blocking crops of advanced threats.

Make no mistake: As previously pointed out by Channelnomics, antivirus is integral to a viable and robust security strategy and will likely remain so; however, it’s also becoming a smaller piece of that strategy. Threats that have evolved to become more stealthy and evasive require solutions that are as complex and multi-layered. Antivirus represents one — only one — of those layers and is often bundled into more comprehensive security solutions.

To keep the customers’ attention, antivirus has to do its job better. Traditional signature-based technologies are on the slow road to obsolescence simply because an overwhelming number of modern threats are rare, targeted and highly mutable, and have a short shelf life. This compels vendors to step up their game and leverage market differentiators as such as heuristics, behavior-based and reputation technologies, which aim to pick up where traditional signature-based solutions left off.

These days, those added features are a strong start and, indeed, go far to reduce risk around sophisticated attacks from a multitude of angles. With a relentless wave of advanced, multi-platform threats on the horizon, modern endpoint security solutions need to do more than just turn heads.

Profitability hinges not just on products that are as good as everyone else’s, but those offering something unique. In recent months, competitors such as Kaspersky Lab ZAO and Sophos Ltd., both looking to carve bigger niches in the mobility market, have launched solutions that combine endpoint and mobile device management.

Trend Micro Inc. has infused its solution with threat analytics, and Symantec Corp. launched the latest version of its flagship SEP solution with cloud capabilities.

How well many of those products do what they say they do is often a matter of speculation. But undoubtedly, the explosion of disruptive technologies such as cloud and mobility have added a whole new dimension to the anti-virus horse race. And if anything, endpoint security trends speak to the fact that users are still demanding the solution, but are simply requiring it to cover more ground in order to keep them safe.

Meanwhile, the market has indubitably slowed. A TechNavio report forecast that the global endpoint security market is estimated to grow a modest 10.9 percent between 2010 and 2014. But it is still growing — testament to anti-virus’ versatility, and its ability to evolve to take on new and increasingly destructive waves of threats.

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3 Responses to “Vendors Need Differentiation in Antivirus Game”

  • Andrew:

    I’ve read quite a few articles about this and I agree that antivirus companies are in a problem. BUT I always feel safer with an antivirus on my computer (I use Unthreat Antivirus), so I think I’m still going to use an antivirus (especially since it’s free!)

  • The security industry goes through all sorts of “ground breaking” and “catching up” scenarios. The fact that F-Secure Corp. is announcing they’ve finally caught up with the old industry standard shouldn’t take anyone by surprise…they’ve normally been slow to adopt what others lead with. The saddest part is that they are just now catching up to what others have been doing for years.

  • craig kensek:

    Regarding antivirus and information security suite differentiation. Part of what’s been happening in the industry has been feature sprint. Not even feature creep. Some of the players in the industry have multiple flavors of both their vanilla antivirus offering as well as their internet security suites. They play with number of licenses, years, a whole variety of features unrelated to security. Trend Micro has – Antivirus, Internet Security, Maximum Security, and Premium Security. Depending on what you purchase, 1 pc,3 pc’s, 3 devices, 5 devices. The customer is getting confused.

    Threats have been getting more sophisticated, but for better or for worse, most of the public (and writers) call everything a virus.

    For the more developed malware, pattern files are insufficient. You could write another posting on techniques being used, heuristics, black and white lists, and sandboxing, to name a few.

    What’s most interesting in the industry is that there is no correlation between market share, name recognition, and who performs best in stopping threats. It’s not the more recognizable names that are at the top of the performance list.

    Symantec is not the first vendor, by far, to incorporate cloud technology into their offerings. That yellow bus has been slow to the race on that capability.

    The race is on now to protect mobile devices, tablets, and yes, even macs.

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