Anti-virus Companies

Written by Helen Glenn Court
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As far as brand name recognition among anti-virus companies goes, McAfee and Norton are certainly the leaders, though there are many others. Just as clearly, these two firms have pretty much cornered the segment of the market on individual desktop solutions for virus attacks. Their approaches are comprehensive but, with an eye to the customer base, segmented into components that can be bought separately. Other companies, such as PC-cillin and eTrust EZ and Norman and F-Secure, tend to focus on narrower segments of the individual market.

The individual user slice is a big one as far as the retail market is concerned. There are an estimated 175 million adult computer users in the United States. The individual computer or workstation is also the last line of defense against the viruses, worms, and Trojan horses that slip through the security features of a gateway. Whether that network is an ISP or an employer network is immaterial. At the same time the number of organizations turning to third-party vendors for spam, virus, and security solutions for network infrastructures is growing by leaps and bounds.

That slice of the pie--networks, whether local or Internet--presents a different and more complex set of challenges. A second set of companies have sprung up to specialize in meeting those challenges. Among these third-party vendors are Postini, Global Secure, Verisign, and IronPort. Such managed care services have distinct advantages over premises-based solutions--among them vulnerability to external attacks, availability, virus and spam response time, IT resource use, and total cost of ownership (TCO).

What Anti-Virus Solutions Address

The basic ingredients of the problem pie are, of course, spam and the viruses themselves. A pandemic Internet plague, spam--technically UBE or unsolicited bulk email--presents one set of issues. These include mail server efficiency, workplace environment, productivity, and privacy. Viruses, worms, and Trojan horses might target network servers or individual workstations. A third issue involves direct hacker attacks on a system through a back door in the network infrastructure, whether denials of service or directory harvesting. Solutions to these problems include firewalls and security and systems superimposed on anti-virus software.

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