Last week, Dell KACE announced that it was offering a free tool designed to help individuals who are using FireFox to be able to access the internet in a more secure way. This is an interesting version of the marketing ploy often used by manufacturers of razors - give the handle away so that people will purchase the blades. What interests me the most is that this move neither targets all important browsers on the net or even the most popular browser.
What Dell KACE has to say about this release
Today (July 20, 2010) Dell KACE continues its commitment to systems management innovation by expanding the company’s portfolio of end-point security capabilities with Dell KACE Secure Browser. Immediately available at www.dell.com, this free tool is designed to meet the needs of anyone interested in improving the security of their computers. By utilizing application virtualization technology, the Dell KACE Secure Browser provides an isolated instance of Firefox to secure what has become a common entry point for malware and viruses—Internet browsing.
While many endpoint security solutions focus on detection and clean up of security breaches, Dell KACE Secure Browser aims to proactively contain threats before they become a problem. The new technology provides users with a virtual instance of an Internet browser application. By running the browser in a virtual instance, the browser and any activity resulting from its use are separated from the endpoint keeping the actual computer and operating system free of changes that would normally occur. Fully contained from the operating system, any such changes made via browser activity are not only kept separated, but may also be quickly cleared with a single click. For even more security and control, optional white and black list entries may be used to limit what sites a user may visit and what applications the browser is permitted to launch.
Snapshot analysisAn internet browser is the client for more and more workloads, both those used by organizations and those used by consumers. This includes both in-house, subscription and cloud-based applications. So, it makes sense that Dell would want to push the security tools developed by its recent acquisition, KACE.
Dell KACE, as a come-on to persuade organizations and individuals to buy KACE's tools, have offered a tool to help secure Firefox browsers. As one would expect, it is necessary to purchase more of KACE's tools to make full use of that this free tool can do.
While some may find the free tool useful, the majority of Internet users will not. Why do I say that? If we look at the usage statistics offered by W3Counter for June 2010, we see that Firefox is the number two browser. (visit W3Counter to see the list.) Similar browser rankings can be seen in other places around the 'net as well.
One view of this move is that Dell KACE is offering something of value, but is not giving the farm away.
Another view is that this is a move designed to get some media attention, but when people look at the fine print, they'll discover that they're going to have to purchase something if they want to use this "free" tool more broadly.
My questions are: "Will organizations who have standardized on Internet Explorer download and test out a tool for FireFox and then purchase something for their staff using the other browser?" "Will individuals using IE, Chrome, Safari or Opera buy something to try this out?"
I would pose that the most likely response will be that people will simply ignore the offer thinking that it is not relevant to them. Dell KACE, will, however, have achieved the goal of getting some media attention.