Symantec serves up security

Symantec Corp. last month unveiled its new strategy aimed at medium- and large-sized businesses to help protect themselves from security threats that have recently become more prevalent.

The Symantec Enterprise Security solution is the joining of key function security areas “that Symantec has historically been strong in,” according to Michael Murphy, the Canadian general manager for Symantec in Toronto. The package combines virus protection, content filtering and intrusion protection, he explained.

Customers are able to choose from Symantec products from these areas, including Internet security offerings, manageability and administrative tools, and services and support.

Symantec Enterprise Security also includes the company’s Digital Immune System, which automatically detects and cures security threats to a company’s network and computing environment, according to the company.

“A cure has to be deployable as fast as the disease or virus,” Murphy pointed out.

In recent months, companies have seen and felt the wrath of numerous viruses, which have gone on to include programs like trojans, he said. And while some businesses may set up a security product to protect from a particular threat, virus protection is “only as good as the currency of that product. It’s not a set it and forget it approach — security needs to be constantly enhanced and updated.”

A recent survey of 200 medium- and large-sized Canadian businesses conducted by IDC Canada Ltd. indicated that 75 per cent of respondents experienced one to four incidents of virus infections in the past 12 months.

“Pretty much everyone that responded said that they had incidents of hacking or a virus,” said Dan McLean, an analyst with IDC Canada and one of the conductors of the survey. “Consider as well that some people may not even know it [an attack on the network] happened.”

North American Leisure Group (NALG) has been a customer of Symantec’s for a year. The company owns a combination of different travel groups and retail travel companies, such as Alba Tours, that are all centrally managed from the head office in Toronto.

When the company was hit last year with the Melissa virus, it was put in contact with Symantec through its software vendor, according to Chuck VanKempen, NALG’s manager of computer services. He said the firm is currently using Symantec’s Norton AntiVirus enterprise solution and Norton AntiVirus for Microsoft Exchange server.

Security is beyond a concern for the company, he said. It has “moved up to a bit of a high profile subject for us, especially because we have a lot of interaction with the external world. There is a lot of potential for viruses coming into our network.”

While he said Symantec has always really been providing the enterprise strategy, VanKempen explained this is the first time it is making it widely available with support services.

“Before you just had your products — you bought them, you figured out how to install them, and that’s it. Whereas now they’re having partnerships where they’ll actually come to the companies and consult them on it.”

NALG will most likely do without using the strategy solution for now, he explained.

“At this point…we have a network administrator and other people that understand a lot of this very well. I think in our case we’ll continue to buy the products that come out, and probably implement them ourselves,” VanKempen said. “If we find it’s not working we may actually call them in.”

He pointed out that while NALG has the in-house expertise, a lot of companies do not.

And while most companies and enterprises have deployed basic security tools — what IDC’s McLean called “typically reactive” — there has been very little investment in more sophisticated, proactive solutions, according to the IDC survey.

“It’s a huge octopus to wrestle,” McLean said, adding that people are struggling with what approach to take, and with what they need to be doing in order to protect their environments. “The threat out there is very real in terms of intrusions and attacks on network and data systems.”

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