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Antivirus is "dead" says Symantec security head as firm launches more services and cloud security

John E Dunn | May 8, 2014
With antivirus software revenue falling, security giant Symantec has finally conceded a point that has seemed obvious to the rest of the industry for some time. Antivirus software "is dead", senior vice president for information security Brian Dye has told the Wall Street Journal.

Not everyone is convinced that the announcement is anything other than clever window dressing.

"[It] rather depends on how you define anti-virus doesn't it?," countered Graham Cluley, a UK security expert who spent two decades working for antivirus stalwarts Dr Solomon's and Sophos but now works as an independent commentator.

"If they're talking about the approach anti-virus companies took 20 years ago, then of course that can't cope with the modern threat. But the term 'anti-virus' is just a convenient shorthand for a multitude of technologies that security firms recommend corporations use today to protect against and detect malware and hacker attacks."

According to Cluley, Dye's comments are really a statement of the obvious.

"Looking at the article, it acknowledges that the Symantec Norton security suite is much more than traditional anti-virus, but then so is everybody else's these days. I really don't think Dye has said anything earth-shattering here - everyone acknowledges that anti-virus software is an essential part of the armoury, but not 100% of the solution."

It was true that antivirus couldn't spot targeted malware but most malware remained variants on common forms, he said.

None of this will come as news to a security industry that has long since moved on to seeing antivirus as just another layer among many. Last week's Infosecurity Show in London was a perfect example of this, with a new generation of security firms such as FireEye taking centre stage with large stands as traditional antivirus firms were forced to work hard to grab the same attention they once enjoyed by right.

Some of thee firms booking floorspace were familiar - Trend Micro for instance - but many others were either new or independent European vendors once seen as small outsiders. The security industry is changing and now Symantec with it.


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