Symantec coughs up latest virus remedy

The software maker takes the wraps off its upcoming Norton Antivirus 2004, pitching the updated security software as an antidote to complex viruses such as the MSBlast worm.

Symantec took the wraps off its upcoming Norton Antivirus 2004, pitching the updated security software as an antidote to complex viruses such as the MSBlast worm.

The next version of the flagship security application, set for release in September, will include more powerful scanning tools, the Cupertino, Calif.-based company said Monday. These are designed to address nonvirus computing hazards such as spyware, as well as take on a generation of viruses that use multiple points of entry to victims' PCs and carry multiple payloads.

"With the emergence of recent high-profile security threats like BugBear and Blaster, which are complicated and blended in nature, traditional antivirus solutions are no longer enough to guarantee trouble-free computing," Steve Cullen, senior vice president at Symantec, said in a statement.

Antivirus experts have had their hands full the last several weeks with the proliferation of attacks from variants of the Sobig and MSBlast viruses. Just as the MSBlast worm, also known as Blaster, was being brought under control last week, the Sobig variant reappeared.

The Norton AntiVirus 2004 package will detect malicious software at its point of entry to a system, according to Symantec, scouring e-mail and instant messaging (IM) attachments. The company noted that recent viruses have used a range of points of entry into victims' PCs, including Web sites.

In addition, the package will offer additional protection for users of Microsoft's Windows 2000/XP operating system, the software maker said. It will scan for viruses hidden in compressed files, which often occurs in files sent over peer-to-peer networks or via IM tools.

Scanning tools for detection of spyware, hidden applications that can be used to view users' private data or track online behavior, are also included in the update.

Two versions of the software will be released, with a standard edition aimed at consumers and a professional version marketed toward business users, Symantec said.

The company said buyers of the 2004 package will also get free access to its LiveUpdate service, which checks for new antivirus updates whenever a user of the software is online and downloads them automatically.

Norton AntiVirus 2004 will cost $49.95, with Norton AntiVirus 2004 Professional retailing for $69.95, Symantec said. Current users of Norton AntiVirus and competitors' antivirus products will be able to upgrade to the applications for $29.95 and $39.95, respectively. The software will also be made available in multiuser packages with a retail price of $199.95 for five users and $399.95 for 10 users.

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