Symantec Says Specialization Means
Protection"> Symantec, based in Cupertino, Calif., is one of Microsofts largest partners and the firm widely considered the leader of the anti-virus software market. Symantec executives said Vista and the other Microsoft security products may help prevent some of the problems experienced in the past by Windows users, but contended that the ever more sophisticated nature of viruses and other IT attacks will keep Symantec busy for many years to come."In the enterprise specifically, the security agent that protects the endpoint is important, but administrators will still want new capabilities, better reporting and more centralized tools for outbreak protection, and thats not what Microsoft is talking about doing," Salem said. "Customers want to have layers of protection, and Microsoft is adding a new one, but security isnt all about the operating system, and most companies run a lot of other devices that are not on Windows anyway; there will always be new problems for companies like Symantec to solve." Salem pointed to the fact that many types of software companies, including segment leaders such as EMC in the storage market and Cisco in the networking space, are adding security features to their products in order to help appease customer demands for better protection. Those tools may help address certain known issues, but that doesnt equate to the same level of protection as having a huge company like Symantec focused on looking out for new problems, he said. Other security vendors are taking a similar approach. Steve Orenberg, president of anti-virus specialists Kaspersky Labs, in Woburn, Mass., said that for every problem Microsoft addresses with Vista and its other security products, there are likely to be new issues that will demand attention from companies such as his. Vista might do a good job of blocking the types of spam e-mail that people have been deluged by over the last several years, Orenberg said, but the rapid maturation of viruses and other threats will require more attention than Microsoft is capable of giving them. "The level of sophistication has greatly increased and no matter what defenses are out there, ultimately there have been people finding ways around existing protections, so youll always need independent anti-virus providers," Orenberg said. "Well be the ones developing the new anti-virus technologies, and staying ahead of the curve so that companies like Microsoft can continue to market their products even as the new threats mount." Unsurprisingly, some security experts roll their eyes at the very mention of Microsoft and security in the same breath, as so much of the work done in the industry over the last decade has been aimed at plugging holes in Windows. Richard Stiennon, chief researcher at IT-Harvest, in Birmingham, Mich., expressed doubt as to Microsofts ability to launch security products that have any real impact on customers overall IT safety. "Weve seen how experts like Symantec and McAfee have screwed up in the past, so you really have to wonder what Microsoft can do based on its own history with Windows and numerous vulnerabilities," Stiennon said. "If any enterprises out there are waiting for Vista to help them, thats a huge mistake, because if theyre fed up with Symantec and the others, I think theyll be even more disappointed by what Vista offers." Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest security news, reviews and analysis. And for insights on security coverage around the Web, take a look at eWEEK.com Security Center Editor Larry Seltzers Weblog.
At the end of the day, said Enrique Salem, a senior vice president in Symantecs Consumer Products and Solutions business, Microsoft isnt as concerned with jumping into the security applications business as it is interested in selling more copies of its operating system.