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This security startup wants to prove that antivirus doesn’t have to suck

Clario is rethinking cybersecurity with simpler software and a focus on real-world worries.

This security startup wants to prove that antivirus doesn’t have to suck
[Photo: YakobchukOlena/iStock]

If you have antivirus software on your computer (or, perhaps, have a relative who does), you probably have an image in your head: hideous design, inscrutable menus, constant pop-ups.

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A new company called Clario is trying to sprinkle some modern-day slickness on stodgy cybersecurity software. While its core features are similar to some other high-end antivirus services—threat detection, VPN service, and live support, among other things—it’s all wrapped in a package that feels understandable for normal users instead of geeks.

[Image: courtesy of Clario]
On the surface level, Clario looks calmer than your average antivirus software, with an aquamarine-and-purple color scheme instead of the usual reds, yellows, and grays. A message in Clario’s main dashboard tells users when everything’s okay (or, conversely, draws attention to issues that need attention), then presents links to features like browsing protection and identity monitoring. If Clario does find a threat, it presents a plain-English explanation of what the actual risk is, and users can always chat with a representative for more information. (The company is working with BitDefender, an existing antivirus vendor, on the actual threat detection.)

[Image: courtesy of Clario]
Beyond just antivirus, Clario will also take a more holistic approach by monitoring your financial accounts, checking your passwords and social security number against databases of known security breaches, and offering to change any system settings that might put security at risk. VPN service from NordVPN is included so users can mask their identity and location from their internet provider and any apps or sites they use, and Clario’s browser extension can even warn users if the terms of service look iffy—say, a social network claiming perpetual rights to republish users’ content—when they’re signing up for something.

That’s obviously a lot for less savvy internet users to handle at once, so Clario starts by asking people what they’re most concerned about, then prioritizes the setup for those features accordingly. The software will then suggest other features to add on over time.

[Image: courtesy of Clario]
So far, Clario has been testing its software in a private beta. It demonstrated it publicly for the first time at the tech industry trade show CES this week. The plan is to launch a public beta in July and charge around $15 per month for service, starting on iOS and Mac and headed to Windows and Android in the future.

While it’s hard to get a full sense of how software like Clario works in an environment like CES, I like the idea of friendly antivirus software that you might actually want to interact with. If Clario can compel people to stay on top of potential security issues without stressing them out, it might have a chance against antivirus software that you typically try to avoid using at all.

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