Can’t sell enough security software? Scare your users into buying.

One of the standards ways that anyone with a modicum of Web and software experience will be able to tell the good from the bad is how the company tries to sell you on their products.

For malware developers looking to trick you into buying their software and thereby infecting your machines scare tactics are pretty well the norm.

On the other hand security software companies try to take a more responsible approach in selling their products, without scaring you into handing over your credit card information.

Unfortunately though it seems that one reputable company has decided that scare tactics is actually the right way to go. This is evidenced by the sales upgrade notices that some ZoneAlarm customers are seeing popping up on their systems.

Now ZoneAlarm, before it was purchased by Check Point, was one of the first security software packages to be given away for free. I used it in the early days of their product life cycle but became very dissatisfied with the product after it kept crashing my machine. That hasn’t stopped it from becoming one of the more popular of the security packages that people install on their machines.

Except now the company seems to be taking a page out of the malware developer handbook and flashing scary warning messages to users.

Needless to say this has pissed off more than a few ZoneAlarm customers but as a CheckPoint representative told Ars Technica

“We thought we were being proactive with our virus message,” a Check Point spokesperson told Ars. “After listening to consumer feedback, we realized that it was misinterpreted and have turned the pop-up message off… It was never our intent to lead customers to believe they have a virus on their computer. This was purely an informative message about a legitimate and serious virus that also included information about the differences in protection of various products, and how to get protection against it.”

In other words a scare tactic to encourage users to upgrade to the more expensive version of the product.