Dell KACE Secure Browser–A Free Tool to Help Firefox Users Stop Malware Invasions (7-17-10)

July 26th, 2010

Anyone that’s ever unwittingly downloaded malware from the Internet knows that it can bring your PC to a virtual stand still. This horrible stuff can infect your computer by exploiting vulnerabilities in your browser, or by opening and taking advantage of security holes in a PC application. Even if you think you are confining your surfing to secure sites, these evil-doers can get in to your PC via banner ads on those sites. Getting rid of this malware can require hours of times and sometimes expensive support calls–and can make you tear your hair out.

Briefing Highlights:

Which brings me to the Dell KACE announcement last week. Dell KACE is offering Secure Browser as a free download to help Firefox users proactively decrease the risk of installing malicious software via the Firefox browser. The Secure Browser does this by creating a virtual instance of the Firefox browser application, which isolates any activities run in the browser from the user’s computer and operating system. The tool also gives users the ability to clear any changes made with the browser with a single click.

Is There Something Valuable in this Free Offer for Me?

If you’ve ever been hit by on of these insidious malware attacks, or watched someone else suffer through one, you’ll immediately recognize the relevance of this offering. As more of the computing we do shifts from PCs to the Web, Secure Browser can give Firefox users another hedge against the headaches and lost productivity that come with these types of attacks.

 Of course, this is of value to you today on the one in three chance that you use Firefox as your browser. Firefox is currently the number 2 browser, with about 1/3 market share. Secure Browser doesn’t run on the number one browser, Internet Explorer (IE) or on Opera, Chrome or Safari–although Dell says it is considering introducing a Secure Browser for IE in the future.

Why is Dell Offering Secure Browser for Free?

Dell acquired KACE, which designs and builds systems management and deployment appliances, in February of this year. Dell KACE aims to serve a very wide swath of organizations–from 100 to 10,000 employees–which it loosely labels “medium business” by helping them to more easily attend to the chores associated with deploying applications and managing their IT environment.

KACE solutions are available both as physical appliances (delivered as a pre-packaged hardware and software appliance) and as software-only virtual appliances, which customers can buy and load onto servers they already own.

By providing users with a snippet of valuable functionality via the Secure Browser, Dell hopes to create awareness and spark interest in its KACE appliances. When the free Secure Browser is integrated with the KACE 1000 Management appliance, IT administrators can centrally deploy and manage it.

Quick Take

With this announcement, Dell has already achieved one of its goals–generating some good media coverage with its Secure Browser announcement. However, Dell will need to supplement this initial spurt of energy with ongoing education to get more people to try it. After all, most people don’t worry about the fallout from this type of breach until they experience it.

On the tactical level, Dell needs to get IE support out the door as soon as possible expand the potential market footprint and impact of Secure Browser as a lure for KACE. Strategically, Dell also needs to effectively monitor and segment users of the free Secure Browser solution. With such a broad target market for KACE (organizations with 100 to 10,000 employees) Dell must effectively differentiate between these different segments, both in terms of their existing IT management environments and requirements, to make the most out of its free offer.

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