Interview: Symantec CEO Calls for a Radical Approach

 
 
By Michael Miller  |  Posted 2004-03-05 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

John W. Thompson says technology alone can't solve virus and spam problems.

Symantec chairman, president, and CEO John W. Thompson and PC Magazine editor-in-chief Michael J. Miller sat down recently to explore the explosion of spam and virus attacks.

Michael J. Miller: Microsoft has been talking about the things its doing to stop problems like MyDoom. What is your reaction?

John Thompson: Well, I think there is certainly an opportunity through its MSN properties to clamp down a bit more. And Microsoft can do more things in Exchange and Outlook that would help the problem. Eliminate the problem? Im not so sure. Certainly Microsoft can reduce the overall level of the productivity hit. But well see.

Its not an easy problem to tackle. Its not unlike the early days, the nascent days of antiviruses, when the technology had to grow up and mature in order to be able to deal with the cleverness of the attackers. That is certainly the case now with spam. People are moving away from writing subject lines. You get a lot of trash that has no subject line, and spammers are becoming clever with the spelling of some of the words, because they know that "Viagra" is now on everybodys blacklist. They flip the i and the a, and the message gets through. We need to develop engines that are more capable of detecting those kinds of variants—not unlike what we did in the AV business.

MM: One of the arguments Bill Gates makes is that we need to charge people for sending mail.

JT: I happen to agree with that, and Im delighted to hear that Bill has finally picked up on the theme that Ive been on now for years.
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Michael J. Miller is Executive Vice President and Editorial Director of Ziff Davis Media Inc., where he takes an active role in corporate editorial issues, helps identify new editorial needs in the marketplace and shapes the editorial process of every Ziff Davis Media publication.

He joined the company in 1991 as Editor-in-Chief of PC Magazine. Under Miller's supervision, PC Magazine has grown to have the largest readership of any technology publication in the world, at 5.9 million readers. He oversaw the redesign of PC Magazine, the launch of pcmag.com and an expansion of PC Magazine Labs, the largest computer testing lab run by any publication.

Prior to joining PC Magazine, Miller was editor-in-chief of InfoWorld, which he joined as executive editor in 1985. Previously, he was the West Coast Bureau Chief for Popular Computing, and Senior Editor for Building Design & Construction.

An experienced public speaker and veteran technology journalist, Miller has become the 'spokesperson' for the technology industry. He has received several awards for his writing and editing, including being named to Medill's Alumni Hall of Achievement. In 2002, Mr. Miller was named the number one consumer/computer journalist by Technology Marketing magazine.

Mr. Miller holds a Master of Science degree in Journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Computer Science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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