Interview: Christian Fredrikson, CEO, F-Secure

Christian Fredrikson doesn’t believe in free antivirus software, which is not surprising given he is in the business of selling security software.

Christian Fredrikson does not believe in free antivirus (AV) software, which is not surprising given he is CEO of IT security firm F-Secure, and is in the business of selling security software.

He says: “Free AV may offer three layers of security, but this is a bit like having a phenomenal lock on your front door and not worrying about the back.” F-Secure's products offer eight levels of security.

Nothing in life is really free. Fredrikson thinks people who use the free Gmail service need to appreciate that they will receive targeted ads: “You need to understand how they make their money.” Giving up personal information may be the price to pay for free software or a free service.

Fredrikson wants F-Secure to be the next DropBox, which is an unusual motive given that F-Secure sells security software and the cloud storage market is pretty crowed. But he says F-Secure works behind the scenes, providing cloud storage for millions of people through service like BT Cloud in the UK. The company also has partnerships with AT&T for a white-labelled cloud service in the US, and with Orange in France.

The company’s interim financial report to June 2013 shows F-Secure is aiming for double-digit revenue growth, driven by the operator channel and supported by corporate and direct-to-consumer channels. There is also a big push in its content cloud and security products and services targeting consumers.

But why the emphasis on cloud storage? 

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“There has been a shift in technology from traditional endpoints to cross-device security. There has been a move away from PCs to multiple devices,” he says.

In fact, like many executives in the IT industry, Fredrikson is having to react to the decline in PC sales: “Our sales are not being driven by PC renewals but by mobile and tablet devices.”

Mobile security is big business. Given the ease with which people can click to download an app, the growth of mobile payments now means the criminals have a business case for targeting smartphones, he says. 

“In the last six to nine months the number of Android attacks has increased from hundreds to tens of thousands.” He says that every 24 hours there are 100,000 to 300,000 mobile virus mutations, of which 60% are new.

Mobile security ties in with the company’s move into cloud content archiving.  “People are more worried about their content than the device,” he says.  

A device can be replaced, but content stored locally on a smartphone will be lost unless the device is backed up when stolen. F-Secure’s cloud storage uses HTML5. According to Fredrikson, no client software is required to stream content onto the device.

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