Symantec, the American computer security and backup solutions software corporation, the company behind the famous Norton AntiVirus, has finally given a nod to what critics have been saying for years – virus scanning is “dead” and “doomed to failure”.
Amidst reports of failing revenues in the past two quarters, and prospects of something similar in this one, Symantec’s Senior Vice-President for Information Security, Brian Dye, told the Wall Street Journal that it was galling to watch other security companies surge ahead. As reported by the WSJ,
Mr. Dye, who has spent more than a decade with Symantec, says it was galling to watch other security companies surge ahead. “It’s one thing to sit there and get frustrated,” he says. “It’s another thing to act on it, go get your act together and go play the game you should have been playing in the first place.”
Symantec pioneered computer security with its antivirus software in the late 1980s. The technology keeps hackers out by checking against a list of malicious code spotted on computers. Think of it as an immune system for machines.
But hackers increasingly use novel bugs. Mr. Dye estimates antivirus now catches just 45% of cyberattacks.
That puts Symantec in a pickle. Antivirus and other products that run on individual devices still account for more than 40% of the company’s revenue. Specialized cybersecurity services for businesses account for less than one-fifth of revenue and generate smaller profit margins. It would be impractical, if not impossible, to sell such services to individual consumers.
Several media houses have since then written long obituaries for the once infallible antivirus programs. What they fail to realize is that this statement from Symantec is not a rejection of anti-virus technology. It is merely an acknowledgment that antivirus software is not sufficient for security anymore.
Modern anti-malware software is no longer just “antivirus” but software that relies on a several defensive layers, including behavioral and intrusion-detection measures, to protect the endpoint. Antivirus is great for known threats, but you really need those proactive technologies. You need both proactive and reactive together.Piero DePaoli, Senior Director of Product Marketing
“The era of the standalone antivirus” maybe behind us, but antivirus as a component of endpoint security however, “continues to have a role in the enterprise and in protecting consumers”. As such, Symantec has no plans to abandon their popular Norton AntiVirus and Norton Internet Security range of products, but will look to find revenue growth in its new product lines.
The company will continue to sell traditional antivirus as a first line of defense, but these will be supplemented by novel, new services that keep pace with the increasing complexity of malware threats and other cyber-attacks.
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