Linksys to ship Norton security product with routers

Consumers who purchase a router from Linksys Group Inc. will now receive a free copy of Symantec Corp.’s Norton Internet Security 2003 suite with the hardware, according to a statement released by Linksys.

Linksys, of Irvine, Calif., makes a popular brand of routers for home and small office (SOHO) customers who receive broadband Internet connections through a cable modem or DSL (digital subscriber line).

Norton Internet Security 2003 is a suite of Internet security software applications that can be installed on a home computer. The product includes a firewall and antivirus software, in addition to parental controls and filters for spam and personal information.

The deal is designed to give Linksys an edge on security in the competitive market for home and SOHO networking products, according to Mike Wagner, director of marketing at Linksys.

“There’s been a lot of misinformation out there. A lot of our competitors have talked about having parental controls on their routers, when what they’re talking about is the ability to block URLs (Uniform Resource Locators). With Symantec, Linksys will be able to address the real need, which is content control,” Wagner said.

Norton Internet Security 2003 will be bundled with all Linksys EtherFast and HomeLink cable/DSL routers, as well as the company’s wireless access points (WAPs) sold in the United States. The product will initially ship on its own CD, which will be included with the standard Linksys installation CDs, according to Linksys.

In the near future, the Norton software will be included on the Linksys installation CD and integrated with the standard Linksys installation wizard, Wagner said.

Customers who purchased a Linksys router on or after Sept. 25, 2002, are eligible for the Norton deal and can obtain a free copy of the software by following instructions posted on the Linksys Web site.

Although Linksys customers will receive a free version of the Norton product, which ordinarily retails for about US$70, they will receive only a 60-day subscription to Symantec’s LiveUpdate service, which provides crucial virus and intrusion detection signatures as well as updated firewall configurations to Norton users.

Customers will be required to purchase a LiveUpdate subscription from Symantec to continue receiving updates after the 60-day trial period has ended at a cost of US$34.95 for a one-year subscription, according to Wagner.

Interestingly, the bundled Norton software contains only a single user license, which may serve as a point of irritation to Linksys customers who are typically investing in a router to join two or more machines in a simple network.

Linksys customers have to purchase additional user licenses from Symantec if they intend to install the software on more than one machine, Wagner said.

Future Linksys hardware releases will all ship with the Norton Internet Security product, Wagner said.

In addition, Linksys developers are working closely with Symantec to integrate the Norton product with the Linksys hardware. Linksys firmware releases targeted for mid-2003, for example, will contain an option that will make it possible for a parent to enforce use of the Norton software on the protected computer before the router even opens ports allowing traffic from the Internet to the device, Wagner said.

– IDG News Service