Optus internet customers to receive free security

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Optus internet customers to receive free security

Optus partners with F-Secure to secure its Australian cable and DSL customers from threats at no extra cost.

Telecommunications giant Optus has launched Australia’s first free security add-on to its ISP service to help protect Australian households and businesses from Web threats.

Partnering with Finnish security vendor F-Secure, Optus cable and DSL home users are able to download the security package for a complete 12 months subscription at no extra cost.

“Eighty percent of our customers in a recent survey said it is very important to have security provided as part of the service. So we started thinking that maybe this is not an add-on rather it should be mandatory,” said Mark Mulder, general manager content and portals products and delivery at Optus.

Optus is aiming to boost security while also listening to customer demands to keep the process simple and user-friendly, according to Mulder.

“Our customers want something that’s simple, and they want something that’s up-to-date because if they’re not up-to-date they’re not actually protected.

“F-Secure's actually reducing the amount of configuration and the number of buttons they put on the software because it makes it more difficult to tamper with and break.

With over 50 similar partnerships with ISPs around the world F-Secure will provide Optus customers anti- spam capabilities as well as anti-virus, anti-spyware and firewall protection. Furthermore, parental controls and Web access time restrictions are also included.

According to IDC senior security analyst Patrick Bihammar F-Secure has successfully pursued the ISP partnership approach in Europe for some time.

Agreeing, Mulder said it’s almost a bit strange that no one else is doing it in the Australian market. It’s a bit like buying a car and having to pay extra for the seat belts or the airbag.

However, Bihammar responded by saying that McAfee and Sophos actually have different level partnerships with ISPs but the offers are mainly "bundled" and charged.

Furthermore, IDC's telecommunications senior analyst David Cannon said ISPs have been reluctant to provide this service due to legal implications.

"It’s a problem of legal exposure. The internet is a moving target it’s hard to make assurances. If for some reason the user is exposed there is a case for legal action,” said Cannon.

Optus is providing full technical support and all support staff have already been trained on the new service, said Mulder.

Furthermore, roll-outs for SMB and mobile users will be begin later in the year.

The free offer is set to end in May 2008 but a pricing bracket has not yet been set and depends on user feedback, said Mulder.

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