What Happened to Agnitum.com?
Agnitum was a computer security company well-known for its internet security software. Founded during the first internet boom in 1999, the company won numerous awards for its software. But, 20 years later, visitors to Agnitum.com encounter a simple “Page not Found” error. This article explores the history of the company and explains why the website no longer exists.
The Early Years
Agnitum was founded in St. Petersburg, Russia by Mikhail Zakhryapin and Alexei Elagin. The two entrepreneurs were students at Baltic State Technical University.
Agnitum’s first products, Jammer and Tauscan, were designed to protect personal computer from hackers. Jammer has been described as a “proto-firewall”, and Tauscan protected computer owners from “Trojan” viruses. (Trojans viruses are named after the Trojan horse -- internet users would be tricked into installing allegedly useful software, which had a malicious payload). In 2000, Tauscan earned an Editor’s Choice award from PC Magazine US.
By 2002, the company had grown to a staff of 20 people. They launched Outpost Firewall Pro, which was well-respected, and became their most important product. Agnitum’s suite of products eventually grew to include antivirus, antispam, firewall, proactive protection, and intrusion detection. Outpost eventuall included an antivirus solution, a firewall, proactive protection, a mail scanner, an anti-banner module, and cloud-based analyzer.
Agnitum’s growth can be attributed to the wide range of awards that it won (including a VB100 award, a Proactive Security Challenge 64 Award, and an OPSWAT Bronze Certification award). However, the company can also trace some of its growth to clever marketing, such as the Agnitum Affiliate Program. The affiliate program gave business partners the option to sell its products on their websites, earning up to 50% in commissions.
In 2011, Agnitum found itself thrust into a scandal when one of its former software developers, Andrey Sabelnikov, was discovered to have helped create the Kelihos botnet that generated 3.8 billion spam emails per day. Microsoft and Kaspersky Labs eventually removed the botnet from the internet.
During the scandal, investigators discovered that Sabelnikov worked for Agnitum between 2005 and 2008 as a developer and project manager. He also worked for Returnil, another antivirus company, and most likely used this knowledge and expertise to help develop the botnet that infected thousands of computers.
In December of 2015, Agnitum was acquired by Yandex, a Russian multinational corporation that is the most popular general purpose search engine in Russia. Yandex explained that it would use Agnitum’s codebase and staff to improve the security of the Yandex web browser.
In 2016, Agnitum announced the acquisition and officially discontinued its antivirus base updates, bug fixing, technical support, and distribution of its Outpost products.
In addition to running a website on the domain Agnitum.com, Agnitum also ran user forums on the domain name OutpostFirewall.com. On Feb 27, 2017, Agnitum staff posted a simple message on OutpostFirewall.com: "Tomorrow, Feb 28, Agnitum is closing its web site, email and this forum."
What Alternatives to Agnitum Exist Today?
Quite a few companies offer antivirus services to consumer and business computer users. Here are a few of the most popular:
Kaspersky Internet Security: Kaspersky works with Microsoft Windows and Mac OSX computers. It offers protection from malware, as well as email spam, phishing and hacking attempts, and data leaks. Annual plans start at $39.99.
McAfee: McAfee offers several antivirus packages that include a $39.99/yr. subscription that covers five devices, a $44.99/yr. subscription that covers ten devices, and a $34.99/yr. subscription that covers one device. All of these subscriptions include a password manager, a user-friendly web-based console, home network protection, and file lock.
Scanguard Advanced Anti-Malware: Scanguard offers an initial free download of its internet security software, and subscriptions start at $24.95 per year. This system provides users with anti-malware, anti-ransomware, anti-spyware, and anti-adware. According to its website, Scanguard offers a system boost and a disc cleaner. It will also locate and remove duplicate files or cookies that may slow down your computer, and it will manage applications. This product is available for PC, Mac, Android, and iOS.
Total AV for Mac: Total AV for Mac offers an initial free antivirus and internet security scan for iMac, Macbook, iPhone, or iPad. Its subscriptions start at $19.95 per year. According to its website, Total AV for Mac will quarantine and remove malware, Trojans, adware, and spyware. Additionally, the company claims their software can speed up the computer, clean up overloaded hard drives, and eliminate unnecessary background processes. It’s available for download or through the iOS app store.