Sunday, January 30, 2011

RSA Conference 2011 February 14 through 18 in San Francisco

Look for serious and not so serious blogs about the companies appearing at RSA Conference 2011 (where the world talks security) to be written about here (about those companies who are at RSA, anyway). Who has the most visibility. What they’re talking about during the RSA security event in their booth. What they’re talking about in any keynotes they’re taking part in. Who among them has the best tchotchkes. . Quite an event, the RSA security conference is celebrating its 20th anniversary.

Symantec is one of three Golden Diamond sponsors. McAfee is one of three Platinum sponsors. Sophos and Websense are among the Gold sponsors. Trend Micro and Intel (owner of of the Platinum sponsors) are among the Silver sponsors for the event.

The Friday closing keynote will be given by former US President Bill Clinton (whose running mate, Al Gore, invented the Internet ;)) Re RSA - “W” across 3rd Avenue from RSA is one of the places where people hang. Keynote presenters are listed at

Security Award Events Taking Place During RSA

Also taking place that week, though not part of the RSA Conference 2011:

The SC Magazine Awards 2011 (US) will be given out the evening of February 15 at the Intercontinental Hotel, just down the street from RSA. For a list of the finalists, go to Tickets for the event are also on this site.

The Info Security Products Guide 2011 Global Product Excellence awards will be given out the evening of February 16. To view a list of the finalists, go to Tickets for the event are also on this site.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

European Commission (EC) Approves Intel Acquisition of McAfee

Five weeks after the FTC gave Intel approval of its $7.68 billion (US) acquisition of McAfee, the European Commission, watchdog for the European Union (EU, ) did the same.

"The commitments submitted by Intel strike the right balance, as they allow preserving both competition and the beneficial effects of the merger. These changes will ensure that vigorous competition is maintained and that consumers get the best result in terms of price, choice and quality of the IT security products," said Commission Vice-President in charge of competition policy Joaquin Almunia.

Among the commitments Intel made to the European Commission:

• McAfee competitors will have access to all necessary information to use functionalities of Intel's CPUs and chipsets in the same way as those functionalities used by McAfee.
• Intel will not to actively impede competitors' security solutions from running on Intel CPUs or chipsets.
• Intel will avoid hampering the operation of McAfee's security solutions when running on personal computers containing CPUs or chipsets sold by Intel's competitors (AMD, etc).

It will be interesting to read any comments McAfee’s internet security competitors (Symantec, Trend Micro, Kaspersky, Sophos, etc) regarding this decision. They have to be happy that they will have access to the same functionalities on the chip that McAfee will have. Whether McAfee will have any sort of early access is an interesting question.

Intel has had disagreements with the EC before. In 2009, Intel was fined $1.45 billion for engaging in illegal anticompetitive practices to exclude competitors from the market for X86 computer chips.

Let the monitoring begin.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Intel’s chief technology officer Justin Rattner announced that scientists at Intel are working on security technology that will stop all zero-day attacks*. The technology could be ready this year. He stated that the technology won’t be signature based. This could mean that heuristic or behavior based capabilities will be put on Intel’s chips. McAfee’s contribution to this project (if any) wasn’t mentioned.

*One definition of a zero day attack - A zero day attack capitalizes on vulnerabilities right after their discovery. Thus, zero-day attacks occur before the security community or the vendor of the software knows about the vulnerability or has been able to distribute patches to repair it.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

F-Secure AV Receives Product of the Year Designation from AV-Comparatives

Testing organization gave F-Secure their product of the year award in a 20 product comparison. All test results are contained in the Anti-Virus Comparative Summary Report 2010. This report was revised in early January. The report looked at all the comparative tests that took place in 2010.

Summary of Awards

Below are the categories in which AV-Comparatives tested and gave awards. Only the gold recipient is listed. Silver and bronze recipients are also listed in the report. By virtue of the fact that testing took place throughout the year, a combination of 2010 and 2011 product versions received awards.

• On-Demand Malware Detection: G-Data
• Proactive On-Demand Malware Detection – G-Data
• Overall Performance (Low System Impact): K7
• On-Demand PUA Detection: Panda
• Low False Positive Rate: F-Secure
• On-Demand Scanning Speed: Avast, Avira
• Whole Product Dynamic Protection: F-Secure, Symantec

Who Received a Perfect Seven in AV-Comparatives Testing

Only Avira and F-Secure received the highest score, ADV+, in all seven tests. eScan scored a six. They didn’t participate in the Dynamic Protection Test.

AV-Comparatives provides detailed reviews on each product in the report. In addition to the above testing, they looked at: Test Results, Installation, Program Interface, Uninstall Options, Bonus Features, and Options.

Companies included in the 73-page report are Avast, AVG Technologies, Avira, BitDefender, eScan, Eset, F-Secure, G-Data, K7, Kaspersky, Kingsoft, McAfee, Microsoft, Norman, Panda, PC Tools, Sophos, Symantec, Trend Micro, and TrustPort. To view the whole report, go to


AV-Comparatives produces about a dozen different types of comparatives/reviews over the course of the year. They also produce company specific reports. Go to for more details on these. is an Austrian Non-Profit-Organization, They provide independent Anti-Virus software tests free to the public.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Top 10 Security SNAFUs of 2010

This article appeared in PC World about 2010 security “whoops”. Those in it would have preferred not to have appeared. Cisco, Google, McAfee, and the U.S. government are among the entities mentioned in the article. For the complete article, go to

Updates and issues with dat files are frequently the problem and cause these “whoops” to occur.

5958 will forever be a bad number in the minds of McAfee(and their customers). This was the file delivered to customers in April that paralyzed corporate PCs (discussed in the article)

Symantec, who had problems in January when their Endpoint Protection Manager Server product erroneously marked signature updates issued in 2010 as out of date, dodged a bullet by not being included in this article. The same is true for AVG Technologies, whose customers had major problems when they downloaded “3292” in December.

Problems like this go as far back as April 2005 (and earlier). "Trend Micro Apologizes for Update Snafu” was an April 2005 headline.

High level takeaways from these incidents? Move quickly when problems occur with updates. Ignore standard operating procedures and help customers quickly. If a large number of customers are affected, an executive needs to be visible, making a statement, discussing the problem, and talking about how processes will be changes to help mitigate future occurrences. AVG Technologies, McAfee, and Trend Micro all did this to varying degrees.

Monday, January 24, 2011

PC Advisor Consumer Internet Security Reviews - 2011

Below is a summary table giving the rankings of a number of consumer internet security 2011 and AV 2011 products. Where the product is free, it will be in boldface.

Unlike PC World and PC Magazine, PC Advisor utilized a more narrow range of the 1 to 5 stars. Thee provides star ratings on ease of use, features, value for money, and overall. The reviews were written over a period of several months with the oldest coming out in the September 2010 timeframe, and the most recent, January 2011. Note that the table has both Internet Security suites and AV. Within a particular score of 1 to 5, products are sorted z to a.

The 1 through 4 below among the first 5 suites is where PC World ranked the products. For a summary PC World/PC Magazine table go to or go to the summary blogs for each publication.

4.5 - PC Tools Internet Security 4 (PC World)
4.5 - Norton Internet Security 1 (PC World)
4.5 - Norton AV
4.5 - Kaspersky Internet Security 2 (PC World)
4.5 - BitDefender Internet Security 3 (PC World)
4.5 - BitDefender AV Pro
4.5 - Avast AV Free 5
4.0 - Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security
4.0 - Panda Internet Security
4.0 - MSE
4.0 - Kaspersky AV
4.0 - G-Data Internet Security
4.0 - G-Data AV
4.0 - F-Secure Internet Security
4.0 - Avira Free AV
4.0 - Avast Pro AV
3.5 - Panda Cloud Free
3.5 - Norman Security Suite
3.5 - McAfee Internet Security
3.5 - Eset Smart Security
3.5 - Comodo Internet Security
3.5 - Avira Antiv Security Suite
3.5 - AVG Internet Security
3.0 - Webroot Internet Security

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Jan 2012 - AVG Technologies Announces Filing for Proposed Initial Public Offering (IPO)

February 2, 2012 Addendum from Reuters - AVG Tech shares fall on market debut

“Shares of AVG Technologies NV (AVG.N), the maker of free PC and mobile anti-virus software, fell 19 percent on their market debut as investors grow wary of high valuations for newly listed technology companies.”

AVG shares closed at $13, which would mean a company valuation of $707 million. Shares had been sold to investors at $16. For the complete article:

My estimated valuation in a July 26, 2010 blog, using a revenue multiple model, was about $750 to $800 million. Within 7 to 12 percent of the first day closing price! I increased this to over $1.2 billion earlier this year with more current revenue information. Whoops. The wonders of valuation models.

January 13 2012 update - AVG Technologies announced on January 13 2012 that it has filed a Registration Statement on Form F-1 with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in connection with the proposed initial public offering (IPO) of its ordinary shares. AVG has applied to list its ordinary shares on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "AVG."

This is a change from previously when they were talking about having an initial public offering on the London Stock Exchange or Warsaw Stock Exchange. According to Reuters, AVG Technologies has filed the IPO for up to $125 million. 2010 revenue was $217 million. Revenue through Q3 was $198 million.

A quick valuation? Assume total revenue for 2011 will end up being $264 million (4/3 x 198). Using a 5x multiple (typical for some other security software valuations), the total valuation of AVG could be around the order of $1.3 billion.

Some AVE revenue figures for 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 (you'll have to expand the screen or try clicking on the graphic below). These are from the F-1.

Original Blog January 11 2011 ---------------------

November 2011 rumors from a Brenon Daly blog - . "Several sources have indicated that both AVG Technologies and AVAST Software have picked their underwriting teams and should be filing prospectuses in the coming weeks." . This may be a case of Daly having too much time on his hands.

Initial Public Offering (IPO) plans shelved - see - February 12 update

For AVG Technologies in 2010, the acronym IPO appears to have stood for “Is Put Off” temporarily or “Is Postponed Only”. After telling the Prague Post on September 29, that “there has been no decision made by the shareholders or anyone else to list in Poland or Prague or anywhere else." there was pretty much been a clamp on news about the IPO. This was in response to an article that November 10 was the IPO date.

A Q1 initial public offering could make sense for AVG Technologies. In a September 15 Reuters article, “Czech AVG's IPO to be worth 400-800 mln EUR”, Q1 was mentioned as the potential IPO date. The IPO would probably still occur on the London Stock Exchange ( (UK) and/or the Warsaw Stock Exchange ( While the IPO market heated up in the US in the latter half of 2010, this was not the case in Europe. Not having an IPO in 2010 also gave AVG the opportunity to more quietly perform some late Q4 adjusting of staffing levels.

Why No IPO in 2010

There are variety of potential reasons for the IPO not taking place in 2010. The board may have decided to delay. They may not have liked the capitalization, valuation arrived at. The projected numbers for either revenue or licenses for Q3 and Q4 may have been missed. Institutional investors may have not have shown enough interest. AVG Technologies may have been surprised by competitor activities. They may have been disappointed with the 2011 release. Expenses may have been running too high, effecting margins and the company may have wanted to deal with this prior to going public. They also may have still been studying other alternatives to going public while providing an exit strategy for investors to cash out on at least some of their investment.

Some Alternatives to an Initial Public Offering

• Get acquired by a larger internet security/antivirus competitor – Symantec and McAfee would be the obvious choices. Would these companies do it for the market share, to have an alternative brand, to purchase technology, other? Symantec already has PC Tools as an alternate brand. PC Tools also has a free antivirus product for their customers. McAfee doesn’t have a “B” brand, but they do have SiteAdvisor, an AVG LinkScanner(r) competitor. It probably wouldn’t make sense to keep both SiteAdvisor and AVG LinkScanner active.

Under these scenarios – Symantec would have approximately 19.7% of the worldwide antivirus market share if they acquired AVG. A McAfee acquisition would result in a 14.7% market share. The current market leader is Avast with 17.5%. *

• Merge with an internet security competitor as phase one of an exit strategy - With respect to size, Avast and Avira come to mind. Avast! Currently has more customers at 135mm and have recently had a cash infusion. They are also Czech Republic based. Neither Avira nor Avast! Have a major US presence. Avira claims about 100mm customers.

An Avast/AVG merger would result in a combined market share of approximately 27.2%. An Avira/AVG Technologies merger or acquisition would result in a combined market share of about 18%.*

*The above is based on figures from OPSWAT’s “Security Industry Market Share” report for Q4. See The report is available at

• Get acquired by a vendor that may be interested increasing their presence in security - United States companies that come to mind are Cisco and Hewlett Packard. There have “always” been rumors about these companies being interested in Trend Micro. CRN suggested that Oracle should be interested in Trend Micro. Perhaps they would be interested in AVG, though Trend Micro gets a substantial portion of their revenue from business internet security products.

Activities To Increase AVG's Security Position in 2011?

• Purchase share by acquiring a smaller competitor. Virus Bulletin shows close to 100 vendors/products on an alphabetic listing vendors with security solutions (not all of these are smaller than AVG)

• Identify and purchase a smaller competitor or competitors that may be more advanced from the perspective of its scanning engines, or cloud technology.

• Purchase additional functionality for the core product. This could be encryption technology, for example (which both Symantec and Trend Micro acquired last year through acquisition).

In July, AVG Technologies had “appointed Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley and UBS as bookrunners for its upcoming IPO with Jefferies acting as co-lead manager.” They may have some additional business reevaluating and updating their valuation (capitalization)during Q4 based on the most current data and competitor movements.

If the company suddenly books a band, something may be coming up!

For additional details, go to “September Addendum - AVG Technologies Prepares to Go Public”

August 2011 comment - The IPO market has been heating up in Silicon Valley. However, "pundits" are commenting that the recent stock market gyrations following the downgrading of the US government credit worthiness may temporarily put a damper on IPO activity.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

OPSWAT Report on Worldwide Antivirus Application Market Share – Most Downloaded Free Antivirus in 2010?

OPSWAT has released their quarterly “Security Industry Market Share Study” for Q4 2010. The data was collected between August 16 and November 15. These are antivirus deployments.

Worldwide Antivirus Vendor Market Share

Below are the top five vendors with respect to worldwide antivirus market share from the OPSWAT report. Fifteen products total are in this particular table. Of the five products below, ESET, AVG Technologies and Kaspersky showed gains from the June report.

• Avast Software - 17.5%
• ESET Software - 12.1%
• Symantec - 10.0%
• AVG Technologies - 9.7%
• Kaspersky Labs - 8.4%

Worldwide Antivirus Product Market Share

Below are the top five products from the OPSWAT report. Twenty-five products total are in this particular table in the complete report.

• Avast Free Antivirus - 11.7%
• Microsoft Security Essentials (AV) - 7.8%
• ESET NOD32 Antivirus - 7.4%
• Avira Antivir Personal, Free - 6.6%
• AVG Antivirus Free - 5.7%

It’s worth obtaining the eight-page report, to see the additional details on North America market share separately as well as more comprehensive tables and details on share loss/gain over the previous six months. There are also tables on Windows Operating Systems Deployments and Back-up Market Share. Data was collected from a sample of the estimated 100 million endpoints that employ the OESIS Framework. OPSWAT analyzed almost ninety thousand opt-in reports that were submitted between August 16 2010 and November 15 2010.


Founded in 2002, OPSWAT ( provides software engineers and IT pros with software development tools and data services to power manageability and security solutions.

The “Security Industry Market Share” report for Q4 is available at

Most Downloaded Free Antivirus Product in 2010?

CNET has AVG Technologies’ AVG Antivirus Free Edition as the most downloaded with 84 million downloads, followed by Avast Free Antivirus and Avira AntiVir Personal Free Antivirus. This is just one download site, however.

Avast tallied the data from,,,, in France, in Italy, in Germany, in Poland, in Russia, and in Brazil, among others.

When the downloads for these were tallied, Avast was first with 141 million downloads. AVG Technologies and Avira followed with 132 million and 105 million respectively.

CNET and User Ratings of the Top Three Downloads For Free Antivirus

In alphabetical order, below are the ratings for the top three CNET downloads. The scores are out of five. Editor Rating/User Ratings

Avast Free Antivirus - 5.0/4.5
AVG Antivirus Free Edition - 4.5/4.0
Avira Antivir Personal - 4.5/4.0

In the greater scheme of things, it is the installed base that’s important. Free SW has no switching costs and is disposable. It’s what’s on the pc and/or laptop at the end of the day that’s important. A product can be downloaded, used for one day and then uninstalled. Low churn is good. Migration to paid products where revenue is generated is even better. Shareholders and potential investors in an IPO (Initial Public Offering) may be interested in cash flow since that’s what dividends are paid out of.

With respect to installed base, in a recent blog, an AVG Technologies exec mentioned 110 million (this has been fairly constant for awhile). Avira has mentioned 100 million. In Q4, Avast stated that they have reached 135 million. As 2011 begins, Avast seems to own bragging rights.