McAfee and Skype claim to have formed a security alliance of sorts, but, if you read the press release announcing the relationship, it’s difficult to conclude that there’s anything of substance to announce.
The press release says McAfee’s Internet Security Suite 2006, VirusScan 2006, and Personal Firewall 2006 products have been "Skype Certified," which apparently means they meet Skype’s "strict standards for security, quality, and usability."
Okay, but how do the McAfee products add value, in the form of essential security, to a Skype user’s online experience? Well, it’s here that the two companies fail to make a persuasive argument. While one can imagine McAfee wanting to make a strong case for itself as a guardian of Skype communications, Skype is having none of it.
Reads the press release:
. . . files sent using the Skype file transfer function can be easily scanned by the Skype certified McAfee products, adding an extra layer of protection to documents shared in an already secure environment. Skype calls and chats have always been and will remain private and protected using Skype’s encryption technology.
So, McAfee products provide additional protection to documents and files being shared in an environment that’s already secure? If the environment is secure, and the documents already are protected by Skype, why the need for the added protection? It sure reads as if McAfee’s value proposition, at least in relation to Skype traffic, is entirely superfluous. Skype even makes the additional point that its IP-based telephony and IM chats are protected by its own encryption technology, so there’s nothing for McAfee to add there, either.
For McAfee’s sake, I hope it has a stronger marketing hook for its products than the negligible security protection it offers to Skype users. As for the Skype Certified program, at least in relation to security, why bother? If Skype’s application traffic is as impregnable as the company claims, why establish security partnerships?
I think the marketing teams at both companies should have asked themselves some basic questions about the nature of the relationship and its objectives before they drafted and issued today’s press release.