[ISN] Network fear-mongering (McAfee/Network Associates)

From: mea culpa (jerichoat_private)
Date: Sat May 02 1998 - 02:40:16 PDT

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                                  M A Y  1,  1 9 9 8
        WHEN NETWORK GENERAL and McAfee Associates merged last year to form
       Network Associates, they created the world's largest network security
       software company. They also created a series of television commercials
         remarkable for its black comedy and unabashed fear-mongering. One
        advertisement features a young man, his head shaved and face covered
         with tattoos, smiling to himself as he taps away at a workstation.
         Why, he asks rhetorically, do people like him bother to hack into
        other people's computer systems and mess with their personal files?
       "For the same reason we pierce our tongues," he cackles, as the camera
                   zeroes in on his wagging perforation. 
       Other Network Associates ads include a disgruntled janitor complaining
       about executive salaries as he sweeps up near the company server and a
       cross-legged blonde reminiscent of Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct. She
       wants to know "who's watching your network" while you're watching her.
             Each commercial ends with a dark, foreboding chord and the
         materialization of the Network Associates logo, a cross between a
                    biohazard warning and the hammer and sickle.
        The Network Associates ad campaign highlights an interesting dilemma
        for the high-tech marketing set. Network-based products and services
          largely depend on consumers feeling comfortable with the idea of
        porting their private information and personal belongings from their
        own hard drives to someone else's server. PlanetAll, Visto, @Backup,
       any online banking or shopping site -- none of these services work if
        consumers keep their data stuffed beneath their mattresses. Internet
        marketers are working overtime trying to figure out how to convince
         Joe User to trust the network, but, as Network Associates seems to
        have discovered, it might be easier to get Joe to buy things if you
                                 just terrify him.
       A recent TRUSTe survey concluded that over three-quarters of Web users
       are concerned about sites monitoring their browsing. Not surprisingly,
        "trust" has displaced "community" as the Internet marketing buzzword
         du jour. Last month, Firefly Networks, Inc. hosted a free two-day
        seminar called Trust '98 to teach businesses how "trust can help you
       retain customers by building long-term relationships with your brand."
       The conference was designed to position Firefly as the Internet's most
        trusted trust brand and show government regulators that the industry
         is capable of policing itself on privacy issues. A couple of weeks
                after Trust '98, Firefly was purchased by Microsoft.
       If the Network Associates ads are a reliable cultural indicator, then
        the guys selling network security are definitely a step ahead of the
          guys responsible for selling the network itself. At least their
         commercials are edgier and more coherent than Sun's and Oracle's.
         Slowly but surely consumers are being weaned off their clients and
       herded over to the server side. And now that Microsoft's in the game,
       it's safe to say that it won't be long before we're buying protection
       from the very same people we wanted to be protected from in the first
                           place. -- (Aaron Naparstek)
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