TL; DR: Avira aims to protect the online world by providing security expertise and advanced antivirus software to more than 100 million customers. The company’s people-first philosophy is built on a foundation of credibility and transparency, ensuring that ethics guide all decision-making. Avira has a pipeline of new products coming up centered on user-friendliness — that’s in addition to those that already help users block malware, anonymize browsing, and secure searches.
A healthy dose of skepticism has become an essential defense mechanism for today’s online consumer. Big data collection is now big business, making trust a difficult thing to come by — especially in areas not governed by privacy protection laws, such as most of the United States.
Avira, a prominent security vendor, is looking to change that. The company, built on credibility and transparency, vows never to sell consumer data and to limit the amount of data that it does collect in compliance with legal requirements.
Keh-hui Ng, Director of Regional Growth in the U.S. and English Speaking Markets, told us that Avira doesn’t chase profits at the expense of the user — even if it puts the company at a competitive disadvantage.
You can tell that from the first time you visit the site and are greeted with a shockingly transparent cookie notice that outlines the purposes of each cookie along with an option to revoke consent.
“Growth is a buzzword right now; everybody wants a piece of the pie, exponential growth, and hockey stick charts,” Keh-hui said. “Here at Avira, we pride ourselves in offering products that look after people’s privacy — and we make a concerted effort to ensure our growth strategies are also equally ethical.”
Avira’s security and privacy tools are offered for Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS devices under a freemium model. For more protection, the company provides an intuitive and feature-rich Avira Prime with flexible plans designed to meet individual needs.
On average, Avira helps block 108 million malware attacks per month, 570,000 phishing attacks per month, and 17 million ransomware attempts each year. The company aims to help even more customers protect themselves from ever-evolving online threats with a pipeline of new products on the way centered on user-friendliness.
Taking an Ethical Stance For More Than Three Decades
Avira was founded more than 30 years ago by Electrical Engineer Tjark Auerbach, who had the vision to make software that would improve the lives of his friends and family.
“Tjark founded the company near the shores of Lake Constance, which lies on the border between Germany, Switzerland, and Austria and is the only open water in Europe,” Keh-hui said. “He was one of the most successful pioneers of the freemium model for software. He came up with an antivirus solution that was both free and exceptionally good.”
Tjark’s people and ethics-centered approach is woven into Avira’s cultural fabric, and the company now has offices in Germany, the United States, and Romania.
“Three decades later, that heritage is still here,” Keh-hui said. “Tjark is no longer the majority holder of the company, but he holds a substantial part of it and sits on the board of directors. His ethos is still at the heart and soul of the business.”
In April 2020, Avira announced a new strategic partnership with Investcorp Technology Partners with the goal to build on the company’s 30-plus years of cybersecurity and antivirus experience and create opportunities for global expansion.
“Our new investors have indicated they bought us because they support the values underpinning our strategy, so nothing is going to change from a philosophical point of view — the ethical component will always remain because it has been ground into the DNA of our company,” Keh-hui said. “What will change is we will have the financial backing to grow in ways that we couldn’t grow before.”
Block Malware, Anonymize Browsing, and Secure Searches
Today, the company strives to safeguard consumers and small businesses from spyware, phishing, worms, and other internet-based threats by delivering security protection to computers, servers, and networks (both directly and in the cloud).
“When I think about looking after our North American audience, the priority is to get as much of our free product to as many people as possible,” Keh-hui Ng said. “Everybody deserves to have privacy and security, whether they can afford it or not.”
In addition to providing solutions directly to consumers, Avira shares its advanced technologies with developers and businesses on the OEM side of its business. The company’s products and services make it easier and quicker for companies around the world to adhere to the highest security standards.
“Our technology is used by many of the big tech companies in the U.S.,” Keh-hui said. “I shouldn’t name names, so therefore I won’t. But I will say a lot of critical infrastructure in the U.S. is protected in some way by Avira.”
In Europe, data protection and privacy are covered under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). A similar law exists in California known as the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). Regardless of where its customers are located, Avira views compliance with such regulations as absolutely essential.
“In terms of cookies, we only collect the bare minimum data,” Keh-hui said. “We have no idea if the user is male or female, or how old he or she is (unless a customer opts in to let us know). We just want to see if someone turned up on our page and bought a product — that’s it.”
The company ensures that data collected is both encrypted and used only for its promised intent. “Having those kinds of red lines puts us at a competitive disadvantage on one hand, but on the other, it gives users a good feeling when they interact with us.”
A People-First Approach: Positioning Users as Family
Avira believes in protecting the online world while also advocating for transparency and credibility when it comes to business practices.
“We think the world would be a better place if businesses acted ethically online,” Keh-hui said. “People who are just starting up their websites for the first time should think about their users as their mom or dad, boyfriend or girlfriend, best friend, or kids. With growth strategies, it’s easy just to talk about people as users, but you need to view them as people first.”
Of course, Avira practices what it preaches. The company’s latest generation of products were designed with the user experience in mind.
“We have reduced the complexity in our Windows, Android, and iOS products to a single button so that anybody who uses our product can get full protection,” Keh-hui said. “Security and privacy can be daunting and complicated. Our value prop is we’ve made it simple for everybody and free, so there are no barriers.”
The company puts feedback at the heart of its development process, distributing at least one survey per week to gauge customer satisfaction and identify areas of improvement.
“In terms of our offerings, it’s not just a free product,” Keh-hui said. “If people tell us, ‘I’m confused by X, Y, or Z,’ we will write blog content to help people understand those topics. We’ll send out messages to make sure people use certain product features. And, in terms of the product development itself, we include user feedback at every juncture. It’s crucial.”
A Pipeline of New Products Focused on Usability
Avira’s new product line with the aforementioned usability improvements is just around the corner, with the Mac version hitting virtual shelves later in the year.
“As a company, it will be a big milestone for us because it will feature all of that usability based on the research we’ve been doing,” Keh-hui said.
As with all of Avira’s products, the lineup reflects the company’s ethics-first approach.
“That’s the way it has to be,” Keh-hui said. “If we’re not credible, we’re not transparent, then we’re not trustworthy. And because Software is intangible, it has to be built on trust.”