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Symantec says antivirus “is dead”

ripantivirusIn a piece first reported by the Wall Street Journal, Brian Dye, Symantec’s senior vice president of information security, called the traditional concept of the anti-virus “dead.”

The Symantec Corporation is best known for their Norton Antivirus suite of protection software that has, to many, been synonymous with the term anti-virus. Anti-virus products traditionally work by preventing hackers from accessing your computer, but according to experts like Mr. Dye, hackers often get in anyway. Dye claims anti-virus only catches about 45 percent of attacks.

New cybersecurity technologies have been moving towards the direction of “detect and respond” rather than prevention. The assumption is that hackers can already break through security, so steps are taken to minimize the damage they can do. Some security companies suggest utilizing fake data to distract hackers. Others assume hackers will succeed in stealing sensitive data, and the protection comes in making the stolen data difficult to use.

Symantec is actually lagging behind in this front. Competitors such as McAfee have already moved in this direction. Michael Fey, McAfee’s chief technology officer, acknowledges Symantec’s tardiness to the frontlines of the cybersecurity war by saying, “They haven’t been part of the thought-leader group for some time.”

Dye said, “It’s one thing to sit there and get frustrated. 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.”

Consumer grade anti-virus products make up more than 40 percent of Symantec’s revenue. In contrast, specialized services for businesses only make up less than 20 percent. Ted Schlein, who has been with the company since Symantec’s first anti-virus software, calls the consumer technology “necessary but insufficient.” The Norton security suite has already expanded to include other security features, such as a password manager, spam blockers and ways to scan for malicious links on one’s Facebook feed.

The company has no plans to totally abandon the Norton Antivirus suite, but they will seek to find financial growth in new products. “If customers are shifting from protect to detect and respond, the growth is going to come from detect and respond,” said Dye.

By Alfredo Dizon, eParisExtra

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