Since the dawn of the digital age, there’ve been tons of problems associated with security flaws, and similarly, numerous unique solutions for them. Among these solutions are antivirus, password managers and VPN software. With so many individual providers in all these categories, marketing their services to the same end-users, many would consider difficult. Many would wonder whether there’s a conspiracy to cause panic buying or whether they’re genuinely aimed at fixing existing cybersecurity issues.

The following topic goes behind the scenes to explore how VPNs, antivirus software, and password managers are marketed and to uncover whether the marketing tactics are based on overblown hype or real threats.

Is there a need for numerous security software?

As the cybersecurity landscape continues to evolve, so do cybersecurity threats so they can impact your enterprise. From phishing to viruses and third-party monitoring, the risks and threats available today could only have been imagined two decades ago. The digital era has brought with it numerous benefits and innovations as well as newer forms of security threats.

As a result of the wide range of threats that businesses and individuals have to face today, there is a need for diverse tools and software solutions to solve these challenges. Just as these threats pose unique problems for you and your organization, their solutions should be similarly unique.

For instance, anti-virus software solutions help you to constantly scan your drives for any traces of viruses that could potentially harm your system. They also scan your emails for any phishing related malware in the form of attachments.

Meanwhile, VPNs which have become quite popular in recent times essentially help you keep your online activity private by masking your real IP address to hide your location and encrypting your web traffic to prevent any third-party tracking.

Finally, password managers essentially help you create complex passwords (if needed) and store them in an encrypted format. The key problem they help you to solve is the use of duplicate passwords across multiple platforms.

All of these tools solve unique problems. That is why they need to be applied in the complex. However, this isn’t to say that all online privacy and security software providers are honest in their approach towards getting end-users to signup for their services. Keep on reading to explore some of the tricks these software providers typically employ in order to get your money.

5 common marketing tricks from online privacy and security software providers

Here are some of the common marketing tricks used by these software providers.

1. Using unverified claims. With VPNs, for instance, it’s very common to see providers claim to store no logs whereas they actually do. Some may claim to store only logs that cannot be linked to users but upon a simple request from law enforcement, that claim comes crashing down. Since many security providers use this marketing trick, you’ll need to be extra vigilant to discover this beforehand. An example could be in the form of marketing content that claims only premium VPNs can offer good protection. This isn’t true because free VPNs are good enough for most users’ needs.

2. Using affiliate reviews. If you’re searching for new online privacy or security software, one of the first steps you need to take is to look for reviews of that product or service. However, would you trust these reviews if you knew they had vested interests in the form of affiliate commissions? Most likely not, especially if it wasn’t disclosed from the onset. Nevertheless, some affiliate sites try to remain unbiased in their reviews regardless of whether they have something to gain or not.

3. Failing to disclose revenue models. Many security software providers are specialists in luring potential users with the promise of a free service. However, many users are unaware that these providers still aim to get profit from their data either directly or indirectly. As tech giants like Facebook and Google have revealed over time, data can be a goldmine. Untrustworthy security providers will usually find clever ways to avoid disclosing their true revenue model. You’ll need to check out their terms of service, privacy policy, as well as how they store your data to understand their true intentions.

4. Undisclosed parent company. Some software providers are packaged to look like they’re owned by parent companies domiciled in countries with favorable privacy laws. This becomes a problem as your data can simply fall in the wrong hands if such a provider is actually located in a non-favorable country. For instance, if you work for the US government and use both an antivirus program and VPN with parent companies in Russia and China respectively, you can simply be handing the US’ data to these rival countries if they decide to request for your activity logs from such providers.

5. Scaremongering. This agelong marketing trick usually results in the worst-case scenario even though it may not apply to all users. While this may appear to be the most commercially viable tactic to use, it may not be as effective as you think.

Experts agree that this marketing tactic has grown less effective over time. End-users for security software are more likely to respond to scientific facts rather than scary tales. You’re far more likely to respond to a truth campaign rather than one based on fear.

The bottom line

Without a doubt, online privacy and security software solutions have become an essential part of our digital lives that cannot be ignored. By helping us ward off threats and keep our data private, they provide us with a robust cybersecurity arsenal. However, it’s worth pointing out, you need to remain vigilant when selecting a provider as some of their signup or data-fetching tactics may not be completely honest or straightforward.

Written by
Mahendra Bajiya, Content Marketing Strategist of VPNpro
December 2019