Symantec offers desktop security for small offices

Symantec on Tuesday announced a desktop security software package designed for small offices with limited IT staff.

Symantec's Norton Internet Security 2002 Professional Edition combines firewall, antivirus and intrusion-protection features. It lets small office administrators set up desktop firewalls for up to 10 employees using Windows 98, Windows 2000, NT workstation or XP. Administrators can decide on Internet access privileges - including restrictions that limit access to sites deemed "unproductive" - that can be enforced at the desktop for each employee.

The intrusion-detection feature recognizes some Windows-based desktop attacks. The antivirus component not only scans to remove incoming viruses, but can also be set to scan for possible outbound e-mail viruses employees may have unwittingly triggered during a computer virus outbreak.

The announcement marks the first time Symantec has tried to sell such a multipurpose security software package to small businesses. The company claims the software, expected out early next month, will be so easy to use it won't require administration by trained IT personnel.

"The administrator in a small office is typically the owner or the accountant, not necessarily someone with IT skills," says Laura Garcia, Symantec's vice president of marketing.

Once the designated administrator makes a determination about the controls to be placed on employees' desktop software, the file can be saved and exported to each desktop running Norton Internet Security 2002 to enforce Internet usage guidelines.

The product does not include the more sophisticated remote management console and reporting capabilities found in Symantec's large-enterprise suite of products for antivirus, desktop firewall and intrusion-detection. Instead, Norton Internet Security 2002, which also includes antivirus software for the Palm OS, is intended to meet basic security needs at a price attractive to small businesses, just $AUD169 and $AUD108.90 for existing customers.

Symantec also announced a new version of its stand-alone antivirus product, Norton AntiVirus, which is designed for use in home offices as well as by consumers in general. Called the Norton AntiVirus Professional Edition 2002 for Windows and the Palm OS, the software can now automatically update virus-detection signatures every time a user accesses the Internet, according to Garcia.

Antivirus software needs to be constantly updated to include the latest virus definitions, and it's sometimes difficult for users to keep up with downloading the latest virus signatures from Symantec's Web site. The 2002 edition visits Symantec's site and performs these updates automatically. "This helps eliminate the possibility of end-user error," Garcia says.

The Norton AntiVirus 2002 edition costs $AUD129.00 and $AUD86.90 for existing customers. Sold without Palm OS support, it costs $US49.95, or $US29.95 as an upgrade. A version of Symantec's Norton AntiVirus for Palm OS 2002 costs $US39.95, or $US19.95 for an upgrade. Symantec is offering the upgrade price to McAfee anti-virus users as well as its own in a bid to woo customers away from its arch-rival McAfee.

Symantec said the products will be available in Australia late January, 2002

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