Are Big AV Vendors Falling Behind?

A worm had hit, and the IT manager was trying desperately to stem its tide. But response was slow in coming.

Not too long ago, a friend told me that she had been having trouble concentrating on her work because of the incredibly bad pan flute music emanating from the cube of her companys IT manager. It wasnt that the IT manager has bad taste in music. No, the music was hold music, and the IT manager had his phone on speaker because he had been waiting for so long to talk to an actual person.

Just who was he waiting for? A representative from his companys anti-virus platform. A worm had hit, and the IT manager was trying desperately to stem its tide. But response was slow in coming.

All this got me thinking about anti-virus vendors and anti-virus applications. I figured Id go straight to an expert on the subject, eWeek Labs Senior Technical Analyst Andrew Garcia. I asked Andrew, "Is this typical? How long should it take an AV vendor to respond? Is anti-virus a commodity?"

And so goes the genesis of this weeks cover story, in which Andrew examines whether the big AV vendors are spending too much time acquiring technology and too little time innovating and evolving their platforms. In that context, he compares their wares with those from smaller companies that are more than happy to prove that they can compete with the more deeply ingrained players.

Andrews analysis and reviews, including an evaluation of Microsofts new Forefront Client Security platform, start on Page 35. And, for a slide show that looks back not so fondly at the worst malware of all time, go to

At the other end of the security spectrum—access control—Microsoft, the Trusted Computing Group and Juniper Networks announced at Interop Las Vegas initiatives aimed at NAC (network access control) interoperability. Senior Editor Lisa Vaas report is on Page 29.

And what happens in Vegas doesnt always stay in Vegas: Senior Editor Paula Musich, Senior Writer Wayne Rash and Labs Technical Director Cameron Sturdevant trolled the show for the most compelling products. Their picks, as well as Paulas interview with Nortel Networks CEO Mike Zafirovsky, can be found at