RSA: Symantec Battles Spyware, Bots and Microsoft

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

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

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