RSA: Symantec Battles Spyware, Bots and Microsoft

by Michael Singer

CEO John Thompson dismisses Microsoft's security efforts as child's play.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Symantec launched an aggressive anti-spyware campaign today to keep several steps ahead of security rivals and the growing threat of Microsoft.

The company revealed new products and protections to addressing the growing amount of Web bots that communicate and transmit passwords, steal sensitive data or help launch denial-of-service (DoS) attacks. A recent paper from IT analyst firm META Group reported spyware and adware infections are becoming a top concern for IT operations, as well as security managers with cleaning infected clients representing 20 percent or more of IT help desk effort.

Symantec CEO John Thompson said his company's technology has the best advantage since it supports the widest range of platforms.

"The Windows environment is the most exploited and we are seeing more and more exploits impacting the Linux operating system. You can be assured that more will happen in the future," Thompson said today during his keynote at the RSA Security Conference here. "It's interesting that many of our competitors are removing the word, 'integrated' from their products at a time that we are supporting all platforms."

John Thompson
John Thompson
Source: Symantec

While Symantec has historically enjoyed a healthy relationship with Microsoft, the two have turned bitter rivals since Redmond began making its own protection software.

During his keynote earlier in the day, Microsoft's Bill Gates outlined his company's latest attempts at fighting spyware, phishing and pop-up ads.

The chairman and chief software architect announced that Microsoft is launching its own free anti-spyware beta based on the assets it acquired from Giant Software Company in December. Gates also said Microsoft is working on improving its family of e-mail clients based on its recent acquisition of Sybari.

Symantec's Thompson dismissed Microsoft's advances as juvenile.

"We applaud Microsoft's actions and we welcome their contribution to supporting security, but I'm not sure their software is sufficient for large enterprises, and they may be incapable of doing so," Thompson said. "No one believes that a single security vendor is the best solution, and there is more at stake here than protecting computer games and other stuff that is going on."

Thompson said his wake-up call was the Slammer worm of January 2003, which crippled 90 percent of the systems it touched, even though the patch had been available six months prior.

"When the dust settled, our customers told us that we needed to take on more of a role to provide external threat intelligence," Thompson said.

One way to do that, the CEO said, is to protect a company's stored assets, hence Symantec's pursuit of Veritas. Executives with both companies are trying to convince investors the transaction is worth the $13.5 billion price tag.

Thompson promised the post-merger company would serve a spectrum of customers as "a pure play with no hardware agenda."

In the interim, Symantec said its latest Network Security 7100 Series intrusion prevention appliance now supports extended protection against spyware, such as Gator, Hotbar and Cydoor, as well as notorious bots like Gaobot, Spybot and RxBot. The Cupertino, Calif.-based firm also released its Symantec Client Security version 3.0 and Symantec AntiVirus Corporate Edition, now in its 10.0 iteration.

The 7100 Series spyware and bot protection supports aggregate network bandwidth from 50Mbps to 2Gbps across as many as eight network segments. Symantec said the software helps IT managers pinpoint the problem and remove systems that have been infected by spyware and bots.

The software is available for free via Symantec's LiveUpdate technology for existing customers as part of their product maintenance.

The company said its Symantec Client Security 3.0 and Symantec AntiVirus Corporate Edition 10.0 are scheduled to be available in March.

Article courtesy of internetnews.com

This article was originally published on Wednesday Feb 16th 2005