Vendors Spar over Security Freeware Release

CyberDefender and Crawler trade barbs over claims that Crawler has the first free, full Internet security suite.

Call it a case of who was on first first.

Officials at CyberDefender and Crawler traded barbs recently over a press release issued July 27 about Crawlers Spyware Terminator 2.0 and Web Security Guard. In the release, Crawler officials stated that the real-time anti-spyware protection in Spyware Terminator coupled with Web Security Guards Internet threat prevention produce "the industrys first totally free, full Internet security suite available to consumers and businesses."

However, Alan Wallace, senior vice president of corporate communications at Los Angeles-based CyberDefender, said his company released a free version of its Internet security suite in November 2006. CyberDefenderFree 2.0 includes anti-spyware, anti-virus, spam and phishing protection.

"I have no problems with competition," he said. "Everybody needs better protection; the more competition the better. But … I dont know how you have two firsts."

Wallace sent an e-mail to Ken Schwartz, chief operating officer and general counsel of the Xacti Group, which owns crawler, to protest the wording. In a response to the e-mail, Schwartz stated that because of differences in functionality, no retraction was in order.

"Although we each claim to have the first totally free, full Internet security suite, our applications have different functionality, and as such we are both correct, depending upon your definition of a full Internet security suite," the reply e-mail read. "Therefore, no retraction would be required, unless of course you can show that you have proprietary rights to the phrase full Internet security suite."

The answer did not satisfy Wallace, he said. "When does the B.S. stop?" he asked rhetorically.

In an e-mail interview, Schwartz countered that his companys press release was correct based on two basic principals. First, he said, Crawler, of Boca Raton, Fla., has no prohibition against commercial use of its security suite, unlike what is spelled out in the End User License Agreement for CyberDefenderFree 2.0.

/zimages/2/28571.gifClick here to read more about the November 2006 launch of CyberDefenderFree 2.0.

"A review of the first sentence of our press release reveals that a main point we are making is the Crawler LLC solution is a totally free, full Internet security suite available to consumers and businesses," he said. "As such, unlike CyberDefender, our free offering is without stipulation.

"Additionally, our offering is totally free, without prohibition on number of licenses," he said, adding users of CyberDefenderFree 2.0 have to pay for additional licenses.

Wallace said officials at CyberDefender never intended to limit the use of the product in a business environment, and that Schwartz was misinterpreting the EULA to justify his position. He added that there are two versions of the product—one completely free and supported by in-product advertising that functions when the software is on, and a paid version. The paid version is called CyberDefender Early Detection Center 2.0.

"The paid version is by seat and available in a family pack of five licenses for a discount if you prefer the paid version over the free one. But if you prefer the free one, install it as much as you want," Wallace said.

Wallace said his company has no plans to sue over the issue, and Schwartz continued to stand by the press release. Schwartz denied there was any true controversy because his companys product is for both business and personal use.

"We would offer that if a press release was inaccurate, it was CyberDefenders November 2006 release, wherein they neglected to disclose that their free software was not available for commercial use," Schwartz said.

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