RealTime IT News

Yahoo Helps Symantec Join the Consumer Fray

Having security software installed on your PC should be like car insurance. Everyone should have some.

The difference is that car insurance is mandatory, and antivirus software isn't.

By Symantec's  reckoning, more than a third of all consumer PCs still lack adequate protection against adware, spyware and other forms of malicious code.

Symantec aims to change that, thanks to a new deal with Yahoo in which the security software giant will try to sell its highly-regarded computer protection wares to as many of Yahoo's 400 million customers as possible.

Not a bad deal for Symantec, a security vendor which has been shut out of significant deals with major portals such as AOL and MSN in recent months.

"It was about time for Symantec to hop in and grab a major ISP," noted Jonathan Singer, an analyst covering security issues for the Yankee Group research firm, based in Boston.

Terms of the deal call for Yahoo to market a bundled version of Norton AntiVirus and Norton Personal Firewall, dubbed "Norton Internet Security provided by Yahoo."

The product protects against a variety of malicious attacks, including spyware, viruses, adware, phishing, and other forms of spam.

Users will be offered a free 30-day trial; when the trial period ends, customers will be pitched a full 12-month subscription for an annual fee of $49.99.

The co-branded service will be marketed by both companies.

For its part, Symantec will ship a co-branded version of the Yahoo toolbar along with Norton Internet Security 2007 and Norton antivirus 2007, both of which are expected to ship in the fall of this year.

This agreement allows Symantec, more widely known among enterprise users, to address itself to a wider audience, and allows Yahoo to provide users with improved security features.

According to Nicole Leverich, a Yahoo spokeswoman, users are interested in security, but want a solution that is easy to install and implement.

Leverich told internetnews.com that the agreement with Symantec allows Yahoo to offer that option while continuing to focus on "providing compelling services for consumers."

But even at under $50 per year -- $20 below the retail price for the standalone products -- it may prove difficult to get customers to pay for the subscription after the free trial runs out.

"People tend to let things like that lapse," said Singer.

Symantec and Yahoo "are going to have to make it top of mind," he said.

Singer also speculated that offering a short 30-day trial period was one way to keep consumers focused on security.

The new deal builds upon a long-standing relationship; Yahoo uses Symantec antivirus products to protect its e-mail servers, as well as to scan attached resumes on its HotJobs property.