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Goodbye Norton: in Post-PC Era, Need For Antivirus Software Wanes

Goodbye Norton: in Post-PC Era, Need For Antivirus Software Wanes

Summary: Anti-virus software is increasingly irrelevant in the post-PC era. But the need for management and security rises, especially for businesses.

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Anti-virus software ranks high in my book of 'cures' that are worse than the disease. Sure, AV software can do a good job of blocking crash-inducing, bank-account-emptying malware. But it's always been such a drag on my PC's performance that it might as well have been infected, you know what I mean?

So count me among those people who would love to wave buh-bye to anti-virus software. Unfortunately, I can't completely buy Forbes' Andy Greenberg's argument that cloud-centric mobile devices like Google's ChromeBook are a "death knell" for anti-virus software.

Even with the reported 400% rise in Android malware in the last 9 months, there are still far fewer trojans, viruses, scripts, etc. on mobile devices.

Which is why only the most paranoid consumers today bother to get anti-virus software for their phone or tablet.I don't see that changing.

It's a different story for businesses, which have to be more security-conscious. I can see some of them getting antivirus software to protect company-issued tablets and phones, but usually as a component of their overall mobile device management software. For example, Afaria, from my employer Sybase, can come configured with both anti-virus and firewall components.

As demand for standalone anti-virus software wanes in the post-PC era, the need for securing and managing devices rises greatly.

Not a lot of data is stored on mobile devices today. But as devices get smarter and apps more sophisticated, they inevitably will. Not everything is going to the cloud/Web. For instance: contrary to Google's claims that the ChromeBook is a Web-only notebook, the company has said it will release an SDK for developing local apps.

That local data still needs to be encrypted and protected by strong passwords. These security policies need to be centrally enforced. App and OS vulnerabilities need to be patched automatically over-the-air. These are things that can be done, and done well, using MDM software.

That's why Disney is thinking about getting Afaria to secure the multiple thousands of iPhones and iPads used by its employees.

Demand for MDM software is why Gartner debuted an MDM Magic Quadrant this year. Afaria was one of the leaders. You can download the full report here. Afaria had already been the market leader for 9 straight years, according to IDC.

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Now for something semi-different: today, Friday May 13 is World Enterprise Mobility Day. So proclaimed my pal Philippe Winthrop over at the Enterprise Mobility Foundation.

As fake holidays go, this is at least no worse than Odometer Day (May 12) or Mailman Food Drive Day (May 14). So celebrate it by giving your mobile administrator or enterprise developer a hug, or heading out of the office to knock out some e-mails at your local Peet's coffeeshop, or working ONLY using your tablet and smartphone today. Or tweet your support with the hashtag #WEMD.

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Topics: ÜberTech, Mobility, Wi-Fi

Eric Lai

About Eric Lai

I have tracked technology for more than 15 years, as an award-winning journalist and now as in-house thought leader on the mobile enterprise for SAP. Follow me here at ÜberMobile as well as my even less-filtered musings on Twitter @ericylai

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

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8 comments
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  • Anti Virus Software Will NEVER go away

    There will always be a need for anti virus. Sooner or later everything gets cracked...The new market will be tablets and phones and macs. PC will continue as usual...
    evolutionqy7
    • RE: Goodbye Norton: in Post-PC Era, Need For Antivirus Software Wanes

      @evolutionqy7 - I have to agree. If consumers want to continue to believe that antivirus will soon be obsolete, my business will be migrate from PC to mobile device support. For now, those who want antivirus software that has little or no impact on there computers will continue to see me for their repairs and data recovery.
      brianw29@...
    • RE: Goodbye Norton: in Post-PC Era, Need For Antivirus Software Wanes

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  • If it's such a drag on performance...

    Then you're using the wrong software. I don't have any issues with Microsoft Security Essentials on Windows 7 or Sophos on the Mac.

    Upgrade your hardware (which I doubt is the issue) or write something of substance. This strikes me as in the same light as people who complain about iTunes bloat. Considering on Windows 7 it takes up 80 MB of memory and I have 8 gigs of memory, could there possibly be any substance to the argument that a single program using 1% of my memory is somehow impacting my computer's performance? Um... not really. It's just become vogue to throw out terms like "performance", "bloat" and "security" when there's really no substance to the argument.

    Both in terms of iTunes and decent anti-virus software. On Windows I don't recommend anything but Microsoft Security Essentials. And it's not based on something I made up:

    http://arstechnica.com/microsoft/news/2010/05/microsoft-mse-safe-from-windows-kernel-hook-attack.ars

    For a more in depth write up:

    http://arstechnica.com/security/news/2010/05/multicore-cpus-move-attack-from-theoretical-to-practical.ars

    On the Mac many people are naive. They speak of Mac OS X as being somehow intrinsically secure (vs. Windows). Yeah right. If there's one thing I've learned 99.9% in tech have no business in being judges of security. As an anecdote, I was in a room of 100 people where a security vendor effectively showed their product stopping malicious traffic. A very well known pattern is lots of bytes with a hex value of 0x90. This is the basis of a "NOP sled". Before the vendor showcased the product in action right there before everyone, he asked if anyone knew what a "NOP sled" was. I was the only one who raised a hand. Another anecdote is the number of IT professionals I've encountered in my career who would run their desktop with administrative privileges. Both in the company they worked for and in their personal lives on machines where they carried financial transactions. Security is part know how (few have) but also zeal (even less).

    -M
    betelgeuse68
  • RE: Goodbye Norton: in Post-PC Era, Need For Antivirus Software Wanes

    I think as long as you have an internet connection, there will always be the opportunity to get a virus. I have to disagree about AV programs slowing down your computer. If you look at older versions, then yes but, the newest version of Norton only 14mb of RAM ( http://www.softwarecrew.com/2011/04/norton-antivirus-internet-security-2012-released-to-public-beta/ ).
    ddiggity
    • Bloat Wear

      I don't see the need for security applications going away anytime soon. Unless the phone operating systems change one high impact in the news could cause a spike in the demand for security on all mobile devices. As far as bloat ware debate. The amount of ram software uses at any one time doesn't measure it's impact on computer resources or computing speed. A small piece of code can bring a machine to near stop.
      Blindhol
  • Title is misleading

    Sounds like 'Symantec shuts down Norton antivirus'. Don't give a sh*t about Symantec, but presenting a personal opinion as piece of news is not correct.
    Orleen