Why Avast Gives Security Software Away for Free

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There are a lot of different security technologies for consumers, and most of them cost money to use. Avast is an exception to that norm, offering fully-functional, free anti-virus security technology to consumers – but why do they do it?

In a video interview from the show floor of last week’s RSA Conference, Ondrej Vlcek, CTO of Avast, explained the business and technical rationale behind his company’s free security technology.

“The fact that it costs zero dollars is useful, but it wouldn’t be a success unless it was competitive with other peoples’ paid products,” Vlcek said.

To be sure, Avast does have paid products as well, which it offers to the hundreds of millions of users who take advantage of the free product. Vlcek emphasized, however, that the free product provides solid basic oprotection for consumers and the paid features provide additional benefits.

Having hundreds of millions of free users also provides an additional technical benefit for Avast. Vlcek said that threat data from the free users helps to inform the machine learning capabilities of the platform, providing a massive data set.


Avast doesn’t generally get grouped into the same category as Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) by analysts. Vlcek said that EDR vendors tend to differentiate themselves with buzzword like “machine learning,” though in his view that’s not a differentiator today.

“Everyone in security is doing machine learning and artificial intelligence,” Vlcek said. “I would argue that our technology, the way we use AI/ML is superior just because the amount of data we consume in our engine is much larger than anyone else’s.”

Watch the full video interview with Ondrej Vlcek CTO of Avast below:

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eSecurityPlanet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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