November 10, 2004, 9:12 AM — Troublesome Trojan horses, virulent worms, nasty viruses - sometimes it may seem like the Internet exists just to let the bad guys attack your PC.
If you're on the ball, you already have a subscription to protective antivirus software that you renew annually. Now some of the leading makers of this type of software want you to upgrade - and not just to the latest version. They're eager to nudge users over to full Internet security suites that add antispam, firewall, and intrusion-detection components to basic antivirus features.
How are they making these suites more attractive? In some cases, they're doing that by making the subscription prices on older, stand-alone products more unattractive.
Should you be persuaded?
Symantec Corp. recently increased renewal prices for subscriptions to its Norton AntiVirus and Norton System Works software to US$20. That $5 - or 33 percent - increase follows similar increases in previous years.
But even as it raises these prices, Symantec is keeping the subscription renewal price on its Norton Internet Security suite flat at $30, just $10 more than the renewal fee for the stand-alone antivirus product. (Norton Internet Security retails for around $70, compared to around $50 for Norton AntiVirus.)
The subscription fee pays for updated software and antivirus definitions to protect against new threats, including adware, spyware, and keystroke logging programs, says Laura Garcia-Manrique, director of Symantec's consumer group.
"We recognize that while (Norton) Antivirus is a significant package, it doesn't provide enough protection. We wanted to provide an attractive price differential with Norton Internet Security and encourage customers to move up," Garcia-Manrique says.
McAfee also has increased subscription renewal prices for off-the-shelf versions of its VirusScan product. Subscription renewal prices have climbed steadily in recent years, from $5 in 2000 to $20 today, according to Bill Kerrigan, senior vice president of McAfee Inc.'s consumer division.
Symantec and McAfee officials say the fee increases are the result of an increasingly dangerous computing environment that demands solutions for threats such as spam, Trojan horses, and spyware.
"In the last year, we had Blaster, Welchia, and Sobig - three huge worms in eight days. Our infrastructure has to handle over three million hits an hour, and 1.1 million (antivirus signature) updates in one hour alone. Subscription renewals help us make the incremental investments necessary to handle those demands," Garcia-Manrique says.