San Diego Business Journal

ESET LLC, a San Diego-based software firm, introduced a new anti-virus security system for Apple Inc.’s Mac computers last month, with the consumer versions available in retail outlets in November.

“We’re making a safe computer safer,” said Dan Clark, ESET’s vice president of marketing. “Now we have a complete set of tools that covers all PCs and Macs.”

In addition to the consumer software version, the company has rolled out a business version that has already been installed on about 1,000 Mac computers. Both versions are based on ESET’s NOD32 security software, and provide an online training program designed to help users become better armed in the constant fight to protect their computers from cybercrime and malicious attacks, Clark said.

Though not as prevalent as virus and malware attacks on computers that use Microsoft’s Windows operating systems, the attacks aimed at Apple’s Macintosh computers have been escalating in recent years as those machines’ sales increased, said Bob Slapin, executive director of the San Diego Software Industry Council.

“It’s a good market and it’s growing,” Slapin said of Mac computers. “It may be a much smaller market, perhaps 10 percent, but it’s an affluent 10 percent. That’s made it something that hackers want to get into.”

Bad Guys Never Sleep

ESET’s new product includes not only the security overlay aimed at stopping outside viruses from infecting Macs, but an online training guide that provides users with the education and tools intended to protect their computers. Among the topics addressed on the program are leveraging a firewall, physical security best practices, the importance of updating software, e-mail security tips, best-practice Internet usage, password tips, and staying safe on social networks, according to ESET.

Being constantly vigilant regarding outside virus attacks is getting more difficult as hackers become more sophisticated in developing all manner of ways of accessing and retrieving data from personal computers, Clark said.

“The bad guys never sleep,” Clark said. “Every day more than 200,000 virus variants are being created.”

A large part of protecting a computer from getting infected is improving the awareness of users in how such incidents occur and how they can be minimized, said Charles Kolodgy, research vice president at IDC, a technology research firm.

“Staying safe online takes more than having a secure computer system because the human element is often the weakest link,” Kolodgy said.

The consumer version of the new product, called Cybersecurity for Mac, retails for $39.99, and will be available starting Nov. 1 in select retail outlets including Apple Stores, Fry’s Electronics Inc., OfficeMax and Micro Center.

Fast-Growing Company

The business version is now available from the company’s Web site at eset.com, or through its network of partners.

ESET, founded in 1992, has been a consistent qualifier for the San Diego Business Journal’s Fastest-Growing Private Companies list and in 2009 was ranked No. 6. For 2008, the company reported $140 million in global sales. Last year, revenue was $160 million, according to spokesman Chris Dale.

Clark said 51 percent of ESET’s revenue comes from the market that includes Africa, Europe and the Middle East. Another 36 percent is derived from North America, and the remainder comes from Asia Pacific and Latin America.

For 2010, the company is tracking to generate total revenue in excess of $200 million, Clark said.

A good part of the company’s sales comes from smaller to medium-sized businesses that make up the backbone of the nation’s economy.

“Our largest deployment is for 400,000 seats, but our sweet spot and the typical deployment is a business with 500 to 2,000 seats,” Clark said.