Symantec: Alert, but Cautious

By Baselinemag  |  Posted 2004-04-04 Print this article Print

Symantec is praised for comprehensive virus-snuffing products that provide good management capabilities. Some customers, however, think it needs to ship out antivirus updates faster.

Symantec is praised for comprehensive virus-snuffing products that provide good management capabilities. Some customers, however, think it needs to ship out antivirus updates faster.

Mark Van Holsbeck is one of them. As director of enterprise security at label maker Avery Dennison, Van Holsbeck uses Symantec's software on desktop PCs and Trend Micro's on Lotus Notes e-mail servers. While he's generally happy with Symantec, Van Holsbeck notes that Trend delivered definition files to protect against the MyDoom virus one hour before Symantec. "For me, time matters," he says. "Even five minutes can mean thousands of lost dollars."

Cary Shufelt, network architect at Oregon State University, which uses Symantec antivirus software to protect 5,000 computers, has the same complaint: "Sometimes their signatures aren't timely. Symantec knows the virus is out there, but they won't release signatures until the virus threat level exceeds a certain threshold."

Symantec says that for lower-level threats—category 1 or 2 on the company's five-point threat scale—it does not issue automatic updates right away. "We don't want to cry wolf," says Brian Foster, Symantec's director of product management for enterprise antivirus. He says Symantec's Web site offers uncertified "rapid response" definitions that are updated hourly.

For others, Symantec's lead in the antivirus market is paramount. "I always want to go with someone who's an industry standard and who I know will be around tomorrow," says Sterling Beane, director of technology for Braxton County Schools in West Virginia, which uses Symantec's security gateways and antivirus software.

At Temple University, the Blaster worm brought down 800 computers last summer, costing $500,000 in technician time to clean up, says Tim O'Rourke, vice president of computer and information services. The university was running Network Associates' McAfee antivirus software on many of its PCs, but it had no policies about using the software or updating the virus definitions on those computers. After surveying several vendors, Temple selected Symantec. "We felt Symantec had a better product, and that it was better managed centrally," O'Rourke says.

20330 Stevens Creek Blvd.,
Cupertino, CA 95014
(408) 517-8000

Employees: 5,300

Stephen Cullen
Senior VP, Security Products and Solutions
Responsible for the overall security strategy, covering both consumer and enterprise segments. He was previously in charge of the consumer products group. Before joining Symantec in 1996, he was marketing director for Concur Technologies, an expense-management software vendor.

Art Wong
VP, Symantec Security Response
Head of the threat-management research unit that hunts for viruses. Previously CEO and founder of SecurityFocus, an Internet security company purchased by Symantec in 2002.

AntiVirus Corporate Edition is the flagship line of software for desktops and servers, available for Windows and NetWare. System Center is a central-management console for deploying antivirus definitions and enforcing policies. Other antivirus products include appliances and software for e-mail servers, e-mail relay gateways and handheld computers.

Reference Checks

Avery Dennison
Mark Van Holsbeck
Dir., Enterprise Security
mark_van_ holsbeck@avery dennison.com
Project: Label and adhesives manufacturer uses Symantec antivirus software on 1,000 servers and 12,000 desktops in 250 offices.

Los Angeles County
Jon Fullinwider
(213) 974-2008
Project: County government picked Symantec as its standard antivirus supplier two years ago, but allows departments with Network Associates' antivirus product to continue using it.

Eastern Alloys
David Fosbenner
Director, I.S.
Project: Manufacturer of zinc alloys uses Symantec software on desktops and e-mail servers at its Maybrook, N.Y., headquarters and other facilities.

Temple University
Tim O'Rourke
VP, Computer and Information Services
(215) 204-7077
Project: Requires the 12,000 PCs used by faculty and students to have Symantec antivirus software installed before accessing the network.

Don Duncan
Director, Security Administration
Project: Staffing services company switched to Symantec antivirus software on 7,500 PCs because Symantec included its antivirus gateway product for free.

Braxton County Schools
Sterling Beane
Director, Technology
Project: West Virginia school district paid $43,000 for nine Symantec security appliances, which provide automated antivirus screening.

Executives listed here are all users of Symantec's products. Their willingness to talk has been confirmed by Baseline.


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