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Anti-Virus Programs Available Free of Charge

Koreatimes January 13, 2008 

Free anti-virus programs have been enthusiastically welcomed by Internet users.

More than 1.3 million users have downloaded ESTsoft's ``roboscan'' (tablet) anti-virus program since November, the company said. Yahoo Korea also launched a free anti-virus program that monitors and cures infiltration of computer viruses in real time. Other portals such as Empas and Naver are planning to release similar products soon.

``About 50,000 users download the program every day,'' EST company said. ``This popularity means that users were eagerly waiting for free anti-virus programs that they can trust.''

Computer viruses and spyware are computer programs that are installed surreptitiously on a PC without the user's consent. While the former is intended to damage or take control of the PC, the latter is usually designed to steal private information or show advertisements.

Many software vendors have been selling anti-spyware programs on the Internet. But many consumers complained that they were charged additional fees unknowingly as their contracts were extended without their consent.

In worse cases, the anti-spyware programs were even harder to remove from a PC than a spyware program. In August, the Ministry of Information and Communication found that about a half of the 118 anti-spyware programs it inspected are continuing to charge their users without informing them, even after the expiration of their original contracts.

Naver, the largest portal site, first tried to distribute a free anti-virus program last summer. But it soon withdrew the product after facing fierce opposition from other firms, who claimed that Naver was attempting to monopolize the anti-virus industry as it has done in the search-engine field.

ESTsoft, on the contrary, had little trouble in releasing roboscan in November thanks to its favorable public image. The company has built up a good reputation for years by offering free, reliable software such as Alzip (file archiving tool), Alsee (photo viewer) and Almap (street map service). The firm plans to make a profit by charging business users for roboscan.

The free anti-virus programs from portals and software companies are likely to pose a threat to companies that specialize in selling security software. Leading anti-virus program providers such as Ahnlab are reinforcing their Internet security consulting services for enterprises.
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