A Trusted Internet – what’s in it for you?

  

The CEO of Comodo, Melih Abdulhayoglu posted an interesting article about the Trusted Internet. In short, he outlines that the driving force behind Comodo is to create an internet that we can all use securely and with authenticity that unleashes the power of the Internet to advance human society (pretty lofty goal – wouldn’t you say).

 

But for that to work, we have to be able to go online and know that we can trust who we interact with. It is a pipe dream? If you ask other Internet security companies – they’ll tell you as long as people can afford to pay – sure they can be secure.

 

That’s just plain wrong.

 

That’s why Comodo is taking the lead to shape the Trusted Internet with free security and authentication solutions. Melih explains his thinking in this excerpt:    

And for the Internet to benefit everyone, it must be delivered as a right to everyone; not as a luxury or a privilege dependent on a person’s ability to pay! To reach this state of a Trusted Internet, we intend to change behavior and help people move from not using PC security because they can’t afford it to using PC security because we  give away it away for free. We intend to change people’s low expectation of not being able to authenticate anything online to being able to authenticate everything online – identities, content and even a site’s legitimacy.

To read the full post, go to www.melih.com. A Trusted Internet is not a pipedream – but a reality being built today. Watch this space.

Judy Shapiro

 

 

 

 

On the fly wireless security…

We’ve all been there. We’re on the road and we need to take care of some stuff – like pay some bills. So we go online, but at this point I have a slightly queasy feeling that maybe my information is not safe on this public network.

Here’s a quick fix that’s just out. For $6.99 per “session” you can sign up for TrustConnect and you can rest assured that your online activities are secure and encrypted. You can sign up on the fly and then you’re ready to go. Here’s the link.  

https://accounts.comodo.com/trustconnect/management/signup

Wireless security – on the fly, even as you sip away on your double expresso latte …

Yes Virginia, there is such a thing as a free lunch.

Skepticism abounds in the online world and rightfully so. Even the web savvy visitor can be duped by offers that really sound too good. And the old adage – “if it sounds too good to be true – it probably isn’t legit “– applies doubly on the Internet.  So with all the caveats above – if I said, “here is a free firewall that really works well…” I am sure you are skeptical.  “Oh – it must be crippleware” would be a natural cautionary response. Or “There is catch – like a renewal or subscription fee”.

Wrong and no.

Comodo Firewall Pro boasts unrivalled protection against viruses, worms, Trojans and malware with “out of the box” settings (OK – I won’t bore you with the product spiel because dear Trenchwar Warriors I know you will research it anyway ).

So now let’s even pretend that you accept this is a great high tech, leading edge solution. Now you must be thinking – “What’s the catch? If this product beats comparable solutions from the “large” software companies – why offer it for free?”

Well we are offering it free because as a Certification Authority our revenue comes from the online business community. These businesses can only grow if consumers feel safe surfing and shopping online. Unfortunately, in today Internet environment, trust has eroded and so has online sales growth. We want to reverse that trend.  The more people trust the security of the Internet the more they will shop online. The more consumers shop online – the more online businesses that will be created. And the more products and services we can sell to these growing businesses.That’s why we developed this for free distribution.  So you will never, ever have to pay for renewals, auto updates or subscription fees (and we mean ever)!

So try it out. If you like it spread the word. Better yet, we’d like to start a conversation with you. As a Certification Authority, Comodo has a special responsibility to keep the Internet secure and safe.  Your input will help us come up with more and more ideas to make every PC safer. Like you, we’re crazy about the net but not the fraudsters on it. And, so we’re developing top line products every day to counteract every trick (of theirs) in the book. We have launched a few new solutions (some free – some not). And more on the way – like a new service that actually does the heavy lifting of restoring your good name in case you do get victimized. It’s a revolutionary approach that can save you hundreds of hours of hassle.  

But we can do better with your insight and intelligence! We want to hear your feedback on what you feel is extremely important for making the internet a safe place to communicate and interact. So join the good fight and help us make the Internet truly safe for all users. To help guide us in our development efforts, we want to hear your creative ideas, concerns and observations. We know they’re valuable. 

Now whenever someone says, “…there’s no such thing as a free lunch”. You can just smile at them because you know that it not always true. Bon Apetit!

Judy Shapiro

The making of marketing miracles

“What is a marketing miracle?” you ask. In my world view, a marketing miracle is when a small entrepreneurial company can “out brand” the largest established companies in their space – without breaking the bank in marketing and advertising costs. Or a miracle can be the launch of a company that was considered as dull as watching paint dry become a poster child for the prosperity of the dot com boom. Some miracles have a David versus Goliath feel to them, others are miracles of timing. It’s useful for marketers to recognize marketing miracles because if you are lucky enough to be in on the ride, it is always exciting and rewarding on many levels in one’s life.  

Does it happen a lot. No, which kinda of explains why it is called a miracle. But they do happen and I know because I have been lucky enough in my career to have seen two, spread over a dozen years.  

Why I got so lucky to have a ring side seat not one miracle but two – who knows. But I know a miracle when I see them and I am always in awe. It restores my faith in the possibilities of what marketing can really do for a company. It is restorative and inspiring which is why I want to share it with you.

 Miracle #1

My first miracle was when the Lucent brand was launched. (As a side note – Lucent rise and fall of Lucent was in my opinion a case when marketing was actually better than the products the company had to sell. It was only a matter of time before the product realities overwhelmed our ability to create a compelling brand message. But that’s another story L )

Anyway, I was an AT&T employee at the time, and I was drafted (literally) to go to the equipment side of the company, yet unnamed. I was not happy. I wanted to stay with AT&T but an ex-boss of mine convinced me it could be fun. “I’ve never actually launched a brand” I said. He said, “we’ll learn”. We did and fast. I became part of a small core team who had the full responsibility to launch the Lucent brand. My role was corporate brand management and I had to deal with all sorts of rebranding requirements – from buildings to stationary and everything in between. I was responsible for product naming and worse I had to enforce a set of corporate marketing communications guidelines across 11 very very independent business units who all had their own idea of how to market their brands which often did not adhere to the greater Lucent branding good.

And yet, after just 12 months, the brand was awarded a best-in-class brand by the American Marketing Association. We continued to win that award two more years. Stock had gone up a lot. After 18 months, we won the APQC Branding award (American Productivity and Quality Council). Harvard did a case study. In other words, we made boring telecom equipment sexy – to employees, to customers, to partners and most importantly to investors – big and little ones. In fact, we overtly targeting individuals to invest in Lucent as individual investors tend to “buy and hold”. After two years, a stock that had started at about $5 had risen so much it had split.

So what was the miracle? The miracle was that we were able to market Lucent to reflect the optimism the emergence of the Internet was having on the collective psyche. The miracle was one of being able to capture the core essence of society’s imagination just at that moment in time.

Miracle #2

I admit it. I was a non believer. I was almost (gasp) blasphemous. The CEO of Comodo in June or July of 2006 set what seemed to me to a highly optimistic goal regarding the number of installations of our consumer firewall solution.  I was not sure the number was even possible. We were after all starting from a cold start. The first 6 months or so were slow. We celebrated when we hit the 1,000 mark with great glee. But then, we got our viral marketing engine into gear. Forums were set up, web pages were SEO’d and so forth.

In about 15 months since launch we had reached download rates that I thought were unattainable. After 20 months, I realized how right the CEO was. In just under 24 months, we have just launched the first of a line of identity management solutions for end users starting with a new No Worry Warranty. No one else in PC security comes close. The sales goals have been set. They are optimistic. But this time I do believe. We will achieve it – sooner rather than later.

Which leads me to miracle #2.

The power of this strategy has resulted in Comodo being more searched on the Internet than the $3B company VeriSign. All on the fuel of emarketing. It’s not free – but it doesn’t cost $80/ barrel either.

Do you believe in miracles?

Judy Shapiro

“…but Mom, 500 Million people go to that site everyday…”

I heard my 12 year old boy exclaim to me in an exasperated voice when he asked to go a music site to listen to some music. I peppered him with questions as though I was interviewing someone for a job. What is the site? Do you see any security seals on it? How do we know if the site safe? By the time I was done grilling my son about the credibility of the site (“blah blah blah” to my son at this point) he exclaimed in frustration, “…but Mom…”

In that moment I understood the schizophrenic nature of the Internet itself. On the one hand, we appreciate the way the Internet can expand us in virtually every aspect of our lives – directly and intimately. And yet we seem to sense that the more dependent we become on our online network, the less secure we think our online interactions are becoming.

How we learn who to trust in the online world is at the heart of how we continue to use the Internet.   

But trust is a BIG word – not easily won but very easily lost. And in the online world today, we know enough to know that there are many more threats are out there eroding our trust faster than our ability to even understand the nature of these new threats. We question whether sites are secure or whether hackers can steal sensitive information. We wonder whether we will be a victim of a drive by download attack. We rightly fuss that our computers will get destroyed by some virus. So we must proceed with caution especially when it seems like the bad guys are gaining the upper hand. 

Can we learn to trust on the Internet?

I optimistically think we can. It’s not just wishful thinking on my part but reflects the reality of how the Internet is evolving to be more secure and to be more trusted.  More secure because we are incorporating better security practices with better solutions that mitigate some threats. And it is more becoming more trusted because there is a new maturity surrounding group of specialized security companies called Certification Authorities. They are, in effect, the unsung Trust Police of the Internet.

What exactly then is a Certification Authority?

To get a definition, I start where every good tech wannabe geek starts, at Wikipedia;  “In cryptography, a certificate authority or certification authority (CA) is an entity which issues digital certificates … for use by other parties. It is an example of a trusted third party.”

Huh?

I continue my hunt, Webopedia gives this explanation. “…a trusted third-party organization or company that issues digital certificates used to create digital signatures and public-private key pairs. The role of the CA in this process is to guarantee that the individual granted the unique certificate is, in fact, who he or she claims to be. Usually, this means that the CA has an arrangement with a financial institution, such as a credit card company, which provides it with information to confirm an individual’s claimed identity. CAs are a critical component in data security and electronic commerce because they guarantee that the two parties exchanging information are really who they claim to be.”

Now that’s more like it. Note that the main idea is that CAs are organized and built to create online trust. They issue digital certificates that attest to different elements of trust – site identity, site security and even whether content or information can be authenticated. In essence, CA’s are guys that do the heavy lifting in online authentication working to ensure that identities are verified.  

Nor can any software company claim to be a CA as becoming a CA requires significant infrastructure to authenticate digital interactions. Plus becoming a CA means that you adhere to best practices and security standards reflective of the highest standards around and are subject to regular audits.  

So it is this rarified breed of software companies that are doing important work by creating the basis for online authentication. They are creating the “Authentication layer” of the Internet to deal with the exponential need to authenticate all this online “stuff”. We want to authenticate our online surroundings and that’s where CAs come in. Today, CAs are already at the center of authenticating online interactions. When you see a gold padlock on a secure page, a CA has verified that the transaction is encrypted. When you see the address bar go green in IE7 that means a CA has authenticated the identity of the site owner.

These indicators are important in that they authenticate critical aspects of our online transactions. Other new ways to authenticate “stuff” are also being introduced. For instance, Comodo CA has a trust mark called HackerProof that authenticates that the site is safe from hackers. There is even a way to authenticate that web content to ensure that what you see is authentic.

More and more digital authentication is being introduced into how we browse and shop. CAs are leading the way in building this authentication layer enabling all of us to truly live in a trusted internet.

Judy Shapiro

Top Ten Marketing Disappointments for 2007

 

How quickly 2007 seems to have blitz’d through my visual frame. One minute I am just throwing out the New Cards joyfully wishing me a great 2007 and hark – here’s the new crop of cards for 2008! Time to take stock and recount what started as promising marketing approaches that either fizzled or were badly executed.

So here new years revelers is my top ten list of marketing disappointments for 2007.   

1) Beware the Google machine – are you scared yet? They are into radio buying, TV ad space, wireless, software and what next? Companies that get too big too quick implode. Think Time Warner/ AOL.  Everywhere I turn I bump into them – feels like invasion of the Google machine. I am getting scared.  

2) A second life for Second life? Typical. People thought it was the next “big” thing and next thing you know – people start dissing it. Advertisers cry – “is no one there?” and start back peddling. Oh grow up. New ideas take time to jel – learn how it works and use it right and well. 

 

3) A rose by another name is still called affinity marketing. Ok – today it is called viral marketing a.k.a. social media a.k.a. community marketing and on and on. Let’s remind ourselves – that this is just a new name for what 15 years ago we called affinity marketing – described as “birds of a feather flock together”. Today, the basic “birds of feather flock together” concept has not changed but the ways we can deliver the message has increased substantially. The good news is that now we can reach an affinity group cheaper with a lot less lead time or fuss. The better news – you can start this type of program with just a little smarts and even less cash. The best news – it is interactive. The “many to many” model is an engagement model that is ongoing and can be sustained over time. A marketers dream, but don’t let the buzz of “viral marketing” scare you. You can do this type of marketing yourself – and don’t let any social media agency tell you otherwise. 

 

4) SEO can’t get no respect. SEO is one of those unsung heros of the marketing world. But it is often overlooked and underappreciated. Why? Because it is so misunderstood and worse lots of folks out there selling the digital version of snake oil. “Get to first page ranking – guaranteed in 30 days”. We’ve all seen that ad. But find a credible technology provider and you’ll see real results. Better yet. Read up on it yourself. You won’t have to do it – but you’ll know better what to expect. 

 

5) Mobile marketing – like trying to catch a cloud in your hand. I worked on 802.11 back when wireless penetration was barely at 40%. Now that there is near virtual wireless penetration – everyone and his brother (I think I mean that literally) is doing wireless marketing – pushing content, ads whatever to people on their phones. Enough already!!! The backlash will surely hit hard and heavy. Worse – many of these ventures doing wireless marketing are not well developed. If you want to play in wireless marketing – watch your step – 

 

6) Blogging is no silver bullet. Hey I love blogging (ya think J) but don’t think it is a silver bullet to replace good marketing strategy and execution. It is seductive to put all your eggs in the bloggin basket. Resist the temptation. Blogging is a tactic that should be part of a well developed plan.

 

7) Public Relations activities still stuck. PR agencies are stuck somewhere in the 1980’s. They still think that their main goal is to get NYTimes coverage. That’s nice but it does not actually build business anymore. It is far more productive to evolve how PR works. A few “big” announcements deserve to get news pick up but far more often you should focus on what’s news to your prospective customers who can generate revenue. If you plan these two levels of PR – you can get the front page of BusinessWeek and more revenue from customers. That’s the way to unstick your PR.  

 

8 ) Is the shine coming off the PPC model? It is true dear friends and if Google could hear me now they would no doubt disagree. The Google PPC machine has peaked and now is the time to understand how to minimize costs while optimizing revenue. Try this experiment. Reduce PPC by 10% – and track if you see a difference. I bet you won’t. You may even be able to reduce by 20% before you see some drop off.  I suggest you use some of the new tactics to augment what was your PPC budget. You may even see more revenue. 

 

9) eMail marketing – don’t open till you see the whites of their eyes. This is a tough one but email marketing effectiveness is harder and harder to achieve. Between fear of fraud emails, SPAM filters and all else – emails have even less of a chance of getting through. Stick to emails that are to your own customers with real offers. That works better than ever before and focus on other tactics to gain new customers.

 

10) Security in digital marketing. It is a battle many are losing and it is sad to report that even if a site has all the security in the world it does no good if a user’s PC has been compromised. The key is to help your customer stay safe online. If you can, offer them digital safety tips. Better yet – you can offer them great free security software – like Comodo Firewall. It’s free, it works and your customers will appreciate the tip. They stay safe and you can be assured that they will remain secure customers.

 

So here’s my wish to you all for 2008 – may your marketing be fruitful and frugal – and to all a good night.   

Judy Shapiro

The Zen of Business Creativity (or why social media has become the new “in” thing)

 

Our CEO is fond of saying, “Logic has one way” and I politely smile and agree. Logic is useful for project and process management.  But that has little to do with how life or even business really proceeds. Innovation in medicine and science is rarely linear or even logical. Innovation, like life, weaves and bobs and turns back on itself like a tenuous road trying to make its way over a rough mountain terrain. The road must follow the contours of the natural topology. And so it is with business – it must follow the contours of creativity and imagination and intuition.  

Great businesses are born in the moments where you begin to harness the power of the blink decision in the way we humans make decisions about what we buy and where we buy it. And only after we have decided what we want to do, do we then look to rationalize those blink decisions with facts.

And this why, I believe, social media seems to have exploded onto the business psyche. It is the subtle perhaps even unconscious recognition by business to harness the power of the blink business. While logic based marketing is the foundation of most marketing programs – it is limited. Sure business executives like facts and logic – but it can be misused as a crunch for making decision. When asked to rationalize their decisions, they can pull out a presentation and very easily explain their decisions. To most business leaders intuition based decisions seem too risky to trust (note the irony in that – logic feels good and intuitive decision are uncomfortable).

And yet I notice what separates the visionary CEOs from the pack is the ability to appreciate blink thinking that is expressed by customers in their forums, communities and social networks. . Visionary CEO make intuitive decisions and then back it up with facts whereas most other CEO look for facts to help them make decisions and then they try and make themselves feel good about the decisions.

A simple example. Comodo makes available for free a slew of desktop solutions including an award winning firewall. Lots of time and development resources were spent on this initiative. Many people wondered, “Why do it? Where’s the money in it?” All logical questions — well aimed. Yet the CEO kept saying, “We are doing this to grow our business. People will know us for our free products and then they will buy from us.” Logical hardly, visionary you bet. And you know what he was right. Our brand is now more searched than the some of our biggest competitors.  And this was because he understood how to use social media at its best. Promote a great free product and word of mouth stimulated our whole business.

So next time you are tempted to make business decisions with logic and facts, think again – better yet – feel again.  Look to social media to help guide how you feel your way through business decisions. Answers are in the social networks – in the blink moments that are expressed in there. And yes, sometimes following creative business leaders is hard on the team around them. These CEOs often look like they on the edge of falling off the deep end. It is hard not to try to get them off that damn ledge. But this is where faith and intuition again asserts itself. You have to believe that their instincts are well honed.

But if you can endure the ride, the rewards mean the difference between a “just so” business and one that flies. I, for one, like life in the heights. The view is much more fun.

Judy Shapiro

And now a word from our sponsor …

Before you fire up your new PC or laptop – turn up the heat on PC protection – for free with Comodo Firewall Pro

The marketers’ engines are gathering a full head of steam to propel us consumers (some willing, some not) into the Holiday season with promises of great stuff. One sure fire item that is always high on everyone’s list is the PC.  And usually, these bright shiny PCs and laptops comes crammed with lots of security solutions — some free, some free for a while.  

But before you fire up your PC and activate the preinstalled security software, take heed – many of today’s leading anti-virus (AV) solutions are simply not up to the job of providing up-to-the-minute anti virus protection to keep your new PC healthy. Really. Here’s one sobering stat from Virus Total. Within any 24 hour period less than 1% of viruses are detected by any anti virus solution. “Yikes” you say and rightfully so. The dismal performance of most anti virus solutions is because they work on the old model of using a “signature based methodology” to  identify the bad guys. Simply, these solutions let every application into the PC and then try and figure out what’s bad based on how the file looks.

Well, it’s easy to see why that’s not too efficient. What about “new” signatures the AV solution has never seen? How can it possibly detect those? Sure, the security vendors provide regular updates – but that’s a little like having a burglar system that only protects against known burglars even if you get regular mug shot updates from the police.  Not the best idea really.

So is there a way to really protect your brand spanking new PC without it costing you another bunch of cash? There is and it’s free to boot. It is called Comodo Firewall Pro (Version 3.0) with A-VSMART P technology. Millions of users are protecting their PCs with the previous version of Comodo Firewall Pro which PC Magazine recognized as one of the leading firewall on the market (paid or free) and this new version (Version 3.0) is a super charged version.  

A-VSMART P technology is short for “Anti Virus, Spyware, Malware Rootkits and Trojan Prevention” technology and it does the job better than any conventional AV or security system your PC might come with because it operates from a wholly different perspective. Instead of letting all applications in and then trying to weed out the malware, A-VSMART P technology prevents unrecognized applications from ever getting access to your PC in the first place. Plus, if you have a new PC, this new solution really rocks because it has a patent-pending feature called Clean PC Mode. This feature takes a profile of your new PC and all the applications in it and registers them as safe. After that, the only applications that get installed on your PC are applications that are either recognized by Comodo’s extensive white list of trusted applications (which include nearly one million applications in the database and growing) or applications you expressly allow to be downloaded. This is the most effective way to keep a new PC healthy and no other anti-virus solution has anything like it.

So go ahead, download this powerful firewall for free. And in case you are wondering why Comodo gives it away free, it’s simple really. The Comodo group of companies represents a leading security company and the world’s second largest Certification Authority. If more people are confident shopping safely online, then there will be more eMerchants who will need Comodo security products and services.

So fire up your new PC – but first turn your PC onto Comodo Firewall Pro. It’s the safe bet for a safe computer.

For a free download, go to: http://www.personalfirewall.comodo.com

Judy Shapiro 

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