UPDATE 2005-07-11: Rogers free software now available.
If you're in Canada, you should see if your ISP is providing free or low-cost security software.
The days of paying a separate monthly fee to protect your home computer from viruses, spyware and other malicious intruders are gradually coming to an end.
Come June, all Rogers Cable high-speed Internet customers will get "all security features," including PC anti-virus, firewall protection and anti-spyware, for free as part of their monthly service subscription, the company said yesterday. Rogers currently charges $4.95 a month for McAfee anti-virus, the same amount for firewall protection, or $8.95 for both.
"We think anti-virus and (firewall protection) is a good thing our customers should have," said Terry Canning, vice-president of Internet at the Toronto-based cable company.
"It takes the crap out of the Internet."
Canning said there are too many different PC and Internet security products on the market, creating confusion for online users that often leads to inaction.
Less than 5 per cent of Rogers' high-speed customers actively use anti-virus or firewall features, according to the company.
"People are looking for leadership on this," said Canning, adding that 10 years after Rogers first launched high-speed Internet service the online world has become a more hazardous place to surf.
What was once mostly online vandalism has turned into a "more professional sport of intrusion," marked by a dramatic increase in identity crimes and, according to a recent Ipsos-Reid survey, rising consumer concern.
Rogers has roughly 1 million high-speed Internet subscribers in its operating territories of Ontario, New Brunswick and Newfoundland. It's just the latest major Internet service provider in Canada to view the free provision of PC-protection software as a cost of doing business.
Last November, Montreal-based Cogeco Cable, which sells broadband services around the Kingston area and Golden Horseshoe, began offering a free security package that includes PC anti-virus and firewall protection.The package, however, still costs $8 a month for its Internet "Lite" customers, and does not yet include spyware protection.
Bell, meanwhile, won't say if it plans to go the free route.
from Rogers absorbs cost of Net security, Toronto Star, April 29, 2005
It's nice to see the ISPs realizing that it's in their own best interest to make security as easy as possible for their users. I guess they finally did the math on having to handle all the support requests, network traffic, and abuse complaints associated with having thousands of infected and compromised PCs on their network. Hopefully as ISPs take a more active role, it will begin to clean up the Internet ecology a bit. I really don't think it's useful trying to push much of this responsibility onto the users. When was the last time you had to patch your television for security? The computer is a home appliance, there is a big responsibility on the hardware, software and network service vendors to work together to reduce the huge security problems out there. I'm surprised actually that banks and other financial services providers aren't pushing this more, or providing free software to their clients.
UPDATE 2005-05-02: Shaw provides a free service for subscribers (even covering up to 3 computers per household), also based on F-Secure, called Shaw Secure.
I think MacOS X is due for some security problems, anyone using a computer needs to take good precautions, but currently Windows is the major issue. Walt Mossberg has a good article out this month: A Digital Crime Wave.