The Impending Death of Antivirus

More than a quarter century ago, Symantec Corp led the business of inventing antivirus software to help secure computers. These products primarily aim to prevent hackers from penetrating computer systems and networks. But when Brian Dye, one of the senior executives of Symantec Corp., told the Wall Street Journal that Antivirus is dead, it has caused a commotion among consumers, IT professionals or otherwise. And it has created quite a bit of a raucous.

For some, they say that it is no longer new to the cyber-community as antivirus software has been booted out as the primary means of protection, more than six years ago and several other means of filtering attacks and malicious activities in the network had been introduced. According to Bret Hartman, chief technology officer at Cisco, “It is not a surprise. The entire industry has moved beyond antivirus a long time ago.” Antivirus software has lost its grace and claim over network and system security as far as the cyberspace is concerned, but has Symantec Corp finally issued a death sentence to antivirus software?

Others are still hopeful that this is not a death sentence as it already has impending death. The antivirus software is still very important as it is your first line of defense against cyber attacks. Mr. Dye estimates that the best antivirus software in the market can still catch about 45% of the treats however it may be insufficient. Fran Rosch, senior vice president of Symantec’s Norton consumer business, agrees that it is insufficient and said, “If that’s all you’re using to protect yourself, you’re vulnerable.”

Mr. Dye’s statement might have been taken out of context somehow. “It’s one thing for the outside world to bash anti-virus, it’s another thing for the anti-virus king to bash anti-virus.” comments Ted Schlein, partner at Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, one of those who helped Symantec create the earliest antivirus a couple of decades ago. The company still generates more than 40% of its revenue from these products, however there has been a constant decline in revenue year over year. The last quarterly earnings report showed a decline of 7% for the quarter end as compared to the same quarter last year. In other words, the company has just decided to follow the trend. Immediately after Mr. Dye’s statement, Symantec announced the two new additions to its flagship.

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