While the world of computer security threats grows ever more complicated, Symantec says its solution lies with providing anti-virus
that is simpler and more streamlined. That's why it has announced plans to reduce its Norton security line from nine products to one, and to simplify the ways in which users interact with its product.
Writing in a blog post Monday, Fran Rosch, executive vice president of Symantec's Norton Business Unit, announced that the company will be consolidating its Norton product line to one flagship solution: Norton Security. The new offering, available in public beta, will be released this fall, he said.
"As part of this change, we'll be retiring some of our stand-alone legacy products, such as Norton Internet Security, Norton AntiVirus and Norton360," Rosch said.
The new Norton Security will be available both with and without cloud-based backup.
'More Like a Service'
We reached out to Symantec to learn more about what prompted the Norton announcement.
"This change is driven both by our customers and the evolving threat landscape," said Gerry Egan, senior director of product management for Norton at Symantec, writing in an e-mail. "We found that when customers call our support lines and we ask them, 'Which Norton product do you have?' they always say, 'I have Norton.' Secondly, today's threat landscape is constantly evolving and becoming more sophisticated, and criminals are always looking for ways to get in and steal personal information. Consumers need multi-layered protection to keep them safe online."
Egan said Symantec would continue to provide support for its legacy Norton products.
Rosch said in his post that the new Norton Security will feature cloud-based management and "dramatic improvements to the user interface" designed to make it easier to use.
"Norton Security will feel much more like a service and less like the you used to 'set and forget,' " he said. The new software will also enable users to add and manage various devices -- whether those are PCs, Macs, tablets or cellphones using any operating system -- through a personal Norton account, Rosch said, comparing the new interface to those used by services like Netflix and iTunes.
Other additions to Norton Security include a new, real-time malware detection engine, a new set of botnet scanning triggers, security features that operate without the need for browser plug-ins and updated defenses against social engineering attacks. Symantec says it has also enhanced its Norton Community Watch program to provide "earlier blocking of phishing or scam Web sites."
Anti-Virus Protection Is 'Dead'
Monday's news from Symantec comes as little surprise in light of recent comments from the company's Senior Vice President Brian Dye. In May, The Wall Street Journal quoted Dye as saying that anti-virus protection is "dead," and that his company no longer viewed the offering as "a moneymaker in any way."
That declaration "would have been industry heresy a few years ago," computer security investigator Brian Krebs wrote shortly after the Journal article was published. As the number and types of threats on the Internet have grown, however, Krebs noted, anti-virus protection has evolved into a "somewhat antiquated and ineffective" -- though still useful -- means of securing one's online activities.
"Security is all about layers, and not depending on any one technology or approach to detect or save you from the latest threats," Krebs wrote. "The most important layer in that security defense? You! Most threats succeed because they take advantage of human weaknesses (laziness, apathy, ignorance, etc.), and less because of their sophistication."