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Free Anti-Virus for All? Well, Sort of

After testing a pilot version in Russia, China, and Nordic countries last year, the Russia-based cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Labs said Tuesday it will begin a global rollout of its free antivirus product.

Timed to coincide with the company’s 20th anniversary today, the launch of Kaspersky Free will begin this month and next across the U.S., Canada, the Caribbean and a large swath of the Asia-Pacific region. The software will become available in other parts of the world — including the Middle East, Africa, the UK, Germany, France, Japan and South Korea — in phases through late October.

By then, “the whole planet” will be covered, founder/CEO Eugene Kaspersky said in a blog post yesterday. However, while the basic version is free to the masses, most individuals and certainly enterprises will be better off running more sophisticated antivirus software.

Although the free version won’t compete with the company’s paid antivirus products, Kaspersky Free will cover “all the bare essentials,” with protections for files, email and the Web, along with automatic updates, Kaspersky said. Users in the U.S. can download the software now from the company’s Web site.

Targets any Cyberthreat ‘Regardless of Origin’

Kaspersky said the company has been working to develop the free antivirus program “for a good year-and-a-half,” with the goal of reaching users who can’t afford premium security software. In his blog post, he took at dig at traditional free offerings (“more holes than Swiss cheese for malware to slip through”) as well as Microsoft’s latest antivirus system, Windows Defender (“ye gods!”)

Long a critic of Microsoft, Kaspersky last year accused the tech giant of making it harder for competing antivirus providers to run their software on devices running the Windows 10 operating system. He said he planned to ask regulators in Europe, Russia, and elsewhere to direct Microsoft to…


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