McAfee offers VirusScan for remote workers

Network Associates Inc.’s McAfee division is preparing to launch a lightweight version of its desktop antivirus software designed for workers who access corporate networks via dialup modems, a McAfee official said this week.

Called VirusScan TC (for thin client), the software is scheduled to become available Oct. 16 and will be announced at the Networld+Interop (N+I) networking trade show which kicks off Sept. 25 in Atlanta, Georgia, said Ryan McGee, a product marketing manager for McAfee.

The program is about 3M bytes in size, or one-fifth the size of McAfee’s standard VirusScan desktop product, which should make it less of a headache for remote workers to download over a narrow bandwidth phone line, according to McGee.

“We basically went through the code and stripped away all the bells and whistles that some customers had told us they considered redundant or unnecessary,” McGee said.

For example, VirusScan TC removes a feature that scans e-mails for viruses before they are opened. This feature was considered expendable, since most corporations already use antivirus software at the gateway or the groupware level to scan e-mails before they are sent to users, McGee said. VirusScan TC does still scan e-mails for viruses when they are moved about on the desktop and after they are opened, he added.

The software also does away with the end-user interface. Besides helping to reduce the size of the program, this also stops workers from reconfiguring or disabling their antivirus software, which can cause extra work for IT departments, McGee said.

The software will appeal most to companies using version 4.03 of McAfee’s software, or a version released prior to that, he said. That’s because older versions of McAfee’s product require users to download the entire directory of virus definitions each time a new virus emerges, which can take what seems like a lifetime over a dial-up connection.

The latest release of VirusScan, version 4.5, which was launched in January, does allow users to update their virus definitions incrementally, so companies using that product may have less incentive to update their remote workers to VirusScan TC. By switching to the thin-client product, however, IS departments would still benefit from the fact that VirusScan TC omits the end-user interface, McGee noted.

VirusScan TC also includes a reporting capability that helps IS managers track information such as how many viruses have hit their network in the past year, and where a particular virus originated, McGee said.

McAfee VirusScan TC will be priced at US$49 per year for 25 clients or less, or $28 per year for 26 clients to 500 clients, McAfee officials said.

McAfee, based in Santa Clara, Calif., can be reached at