Founded in 1999, Lavasoft is the original anti-malware company, creating free, award-winning security and privacy software. Born of the belief that online security should be available to everyone, Lavasoft offers millions of users maximum protection for their computers and online identities.
With close to 500 million downloads, its flagship product Ad-Aware has blocked and removed billions of threats, saving consumers from all forms of attacks and malware, including viruses, spyware, adware, phishing and drive-by downloads. Lavasoft is a global company with operations in North America and Europe.
BusinessInterviews.com: What separates your Ad-Aware Web Companion product from your previous offerings?
Daniel: Ad-Aware Web Companion is a free download that complements users’ antivirus programs with Web protection. It is powered by Lavasoft website filtering technology, a real-time website analysis which prevents users from login into dangerous websites or clicking on dangerous links where malware is present.
Lavasoft’s filtering technology is superfast and checks in real time the currently visited website against the most complete and constantly updated database of malicious websites available today, and blocks them before they can do any harm. Each day, another 200,000 links get added to our database protecting consumers against the latest malware – more often before antiviruses even know they exist.
Ad-Aware Web Companion replaces our previous Ad-Aware Security Toolbar in a much more discrete manner – outside the browser. No more toolbars or extensions, just a lightweight security application that will offer the same powerful in-line protection against malicious URLs and Web-based threats.
Using Ad-Aware Web Companion, consumers have access to the following features:
BusinessInterviews.com: Can you talk about why you believe prevention is better than a cure when it comes to virus protection?
Daniel: Today’s cybercriminals and fraudsters are highly sophisticated and antivirus and other security providers must make every effort to stay one step ahead of perceived threats. Using antivirus software such as Ad-Aware can ensure malware and other threats are detected and quarantined before they have the opportunity to compromise the user. Conversely, if the threat is addressed after it has compromised a user’s system, the results can be detrimental. Sensitive information such as login and banking credentials can be revealed and malicious software can be downloaded onto the system, which can lead to the user losing all of his or her information.
Typically antivirus companies can take up to two weeks to detect, analyze and develop a fix – leaving users open to the latest threats – often called zero-day threats. Lavasoft Web filtering technology doesn’t wait for AV companies to work on a fix. Rather, with Web Companion, users get alerted before they can even browse the site where the dangerous content is exposed, preventing them from infecting their PCs before they have the opportunity to do any real damage.
BusinessInterviews.com: Can you share some common misconceptions about malware, adware and/or spyware?
Daniel: A common misperception about malware and adware is that the two can be addressed by using the same approach. While malware is most effectively blocked using antivirus software, advancements such as ad-blocking software have been developed to address this specific threat. Given the wide variety of online security threats today, there is no one-size-fits all solution to address all threats. Instead, security software providers must continuously improve their offerings to address new risks.
Another misperception is the idea of “it won’t happen to me.” Many consumers do not change their passwords following a breach, click on potentially suspicious links or fail to install or update security software because they do not think they will fall victim to malware, adware, spyware or other threats. This is a mistake and consumers must always ensure their antivirus software is up-to-date have the highest level of protection possible.
BusinessInterviews.com: What are some industry trends that you’re excited about or think that our readers should be paying attention to?
Daniel: In a way, 2014 has been the year of the data breach and other major hacks. These include Home Depot, Michaels, Bebe stores and most recently, Sony Pictures. Many of these breaches prove online passwords have lost their value and cannot protect consumers in the same way they once did. While many consumers are often encouraged to change their passwords or use unique passwords across websites, this is not enough protection. By using advanced antivirus software, consumers can be more effectively protected online, as it provides real-time protection and enables users to easily differentiate between authentic and malicious websites and emails.
Another trend in the industry is the shift from traditional antivirus technology to more comprehensive solutions, such as including ad-blocking in security solutions. One such type of attack that antivirus fails to protect against is malvertising, which has increasingly targeted users’ computers. Traditional antivirus and other endpoint protection software cannot reliably stop malvertising attacks because the tools frequently cannot determine in time whether a banner ad, for example, is simply serving ad content or potentially malicious content.
The future will force security software companies like Lavasoft to offer comprehensive solutions that include traditional approaches and new ones such as Web Companion’s ad-blocking and Web-filtering technology. Such technology ultimately improves the user experience by blocking ads, increasing privacy and protecting consumers from falling victim to malware or scams.
BusinessInterviews.com: Can you talk about how the growth in unwanted browser and toolbar plugins is helping create a significant opportunity for Ad-Aware and similar technologies?
Daniel: Many desktop applications automatically download browser and toolbar plugins as part of a bundle and these plugins are often unwanted by the user. These plugins can lead to such negative implications as changing the user’s default homepage or browser and slowing down or crashing the user’s system. In addition, makers of such plugins have a tendency to make it very complicated for users to remove or uninstall the plugins from their systems and ultimately trick the users into keeping the add-ons.
This adware industry is quite large and profitable. It allows software vendors to make a little more money every time their product is offered for download for free. Unfortunately, it has also attracted a slew of careless players that offer software with dubious value as an excuse to bundle adverts.
Web Companion faces this challenge at two levels. First, on the users’ PCs by giving the users more choice and ease of changing their default search and home page settings and preventing such programs from taking over preferences. Second, Web Companion offers a clean, safe alternative bundle to software publishers.
BusinessInterviews.com: What’s the most exciting thing on the horizon for 2015?
Daniel: Lavasoft is fast approaching 500 million downloads for our Ad-Aware software, which is an exciting milestone for any software provider. Of these 500 million downloads, we have an extremely low attrition rate and loyal, long-term customers, which validates the effectiveness of our security and privacy protection. As we continue to build our user base, we’re developing advanced technologies to combat viruses, spyware, adware and phishing. We recently released Ad-Aware Web Companion and in early 2015, we will release Ad-Aware 12, which will offer the most comprehensive antivirus protection on the market and a user-friendly Web interface.
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