Symantec sees a hosted future

The ubiquity of broadband will lead to Symantec increasingly offering its software over the Web, rather than just out of a box

Symantec will slowly move toward supplying its consumer applications — such as Norton Antivirus and Norton Utilities — as a service.

At a roundtable discussion in Sydney on Thursday morning, David Sykes, vice-president of Symantec in the Pacific region, explained that as broadband becomes ubiquitous and consumers get used to purchasing software online instead of in a box, security services — and even PC utilities — could be sold as a service.

According to Sykes, this is already happening in countries such as Korea ISPs are reselling applications on behalf of security companies such as Symantec.

"The ISP licenses our product and delivers the service — they do the scanning, disk fragmenting and other stuff that Norton SystemWorks does — and they deliver that down the pipe," he said.

Sykes also said there was the possibility that tiny pieces of an application or a single virus scan could be resold by organisations such as online banks, which may choose to ensure their customers are not infected with a virus or spyware before they log on to their account.

"The customer goes to an Internet banking site and that site has an end-point appliance that scans [their computer]. It may say 'you have Sobig (or another infection)' and up will pop the antivirus vendor's window that says, 'Do you want to fix this problem or buy a solution?'" he said.

This could be paid for by the customer using their credit card or by adding it to their mobile phone bill by sending a text message, said Sykes, who warned that banks could decide not to provide access to anyone with an infected computer.

"If you don't use the service, then you may not be able to log on to the Internet banking site," he added.

Symantec executives have in the past admitted that customers often complain about the size and resources used by its consumer applications such as Norton Antivirus and Norton Internet Security.

Last year, Mark Kennedy, architect, product delivery and response at Symantec, said the company would respond to customer feedback by making its flagship consumer product smaller and faster.

"The footprint of the product and the performance of the product is something that the consumer team is actively working on," Kennedy said at the time.

By delivering security features such as virus scanning online, Sykes believes the footprint of its applications will no longer be an issue. "Once you move to the service situation, then the footprint becomes almost irrelevant," he said.

Munir Kotadia reported from Sydney for ZDNet Australia. For more ZDNet Australia stories, click here.

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