AVG unifies platform for managed security service providers

NEW YORK CITY — Anti-virus solutions provider AVG Technologies has launched a new product line, rolling out updated versions of its anti-virus software for consumers as well as small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs).

On Sept. 4, the Amsterdam and San Francisco-based company announced it would be updating its product suite, bringing out a new application called AVG PrivacyFix, a dashboard allowing users to manage their online privacy settings on social media Web sites like Facebook, Google, and LinkedIn. It also added AVG Premium Security 2014 to its roster, giving customers the ability to secure their PCs and Android devices, although this product hasn’t been rolled out for Apple’s device ecosystem as of yet. All of its new products are now available for download on AVG’s Web site.

And to reach out to SMBs, AVG is also linking its CloudCare and Managed Workplace services together, giving its resellers one unified platform to manage how they provide security services to SMBs, as well as to make it easier to bill them every month.

The company currently serves more than 150 million users, with 44 million of those using mobile devices. So it was no wonder CEO Gary Kovacs spoke at length about AVG’s future goals, adding it will be making more of a play to protect consumers’ privacy and to secure their mobile devices.

“We need to protect from threats, but we also need to provide transparency … Privacy is not a one-size-fits-all thing,” said Kovacs, speaking from a press briefing in New York on Sept. 4. “I don’t want to have to read 250 end user licensing agreements to understand their privacy agreements.”

Still, he added AVG hadn’t thoroughly nailed down its mobile strategy as of yet, given the space is changing so rapidly.

“If somebody says they’ve got it figured out, you should walk out the door,” he said.

Besides its new tools, AVG also unveiled a slew of new features for its existing products. The free version of AVG Anti-Virus is now outfitted with File Shredder, a feature that can wipe sensitive data from a user’s hard drive. It also brought out Data Safe, which encrypts a user’s files on a virtual disk on his or her PC.

The company also announced Duplicate Finder, which looks for identical files on a computer based on their binary code and recommending deletions of copies to save disk space. It also brought out Flight Mode, which turns off the transmitting function from WiFi and Bluetooth devices so Web sites can’t track users’ activity.

This year’s product lineup marks a host of changes at AVG, partially fueled by new blood entering the company. In July, AVG named its new CEO, Kovacs, a Canadian who previously worked at Mozilla Corp.Adobe Inc. and Zi Corp., which Nuance Communications acquired in 2009. Jim Brock, vice-president of privacy products and former CEO of PrivacyChoice Inc., and Marco La Vecchia, vice-president of channels in North America, also joined its ranks this summer.

And besides new personnel, the company also made two major acquisitions this past summer, scooping up PrivacyChoice to provide the new Privacyfix tool, as well as LPI Level Platforms Inc., to give SMBs more access to cloud services.

AVG’s COO, John Giamatteo, also announced last week that he’d be leaving the company, with Kovacs saying Giamatteo had been eyeing the CEO position and was now moving on elsewhere.

So with the recent acquisitions and the changes in staffing, AVG is undergoing some major changes, Kovacs said. The company posted revenues of $104.4 million in the second quarter of 2013, with revenues of $82.5 million in the same period last year.

“AVG has a good brand reputation, but it has to offer a cohesive set of services,” Kovacs said, speaking from a smaller group meeting Sept. 4. He added the company may someday consider launching its own web browser, or releasing a consumer dashboard that will identify users and retain their privacy settings across all of their devices. However, neither of those things is on the immediate horizon.

“As much as that’s a very nice vision, I’m very much a practical, operational guy. So the way that we implement is that we’ll develop some of those things … through acquisitions,” he said, adding he hopes AVG will develop into consumers’ go-to brand for anything arising in security and privacy.

“I think we’re going to stay very focused on consumer and small and medium business.”

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