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Fight breaks out between antivirus rivals

A war of words erupts between rivals McAfee and Symantec.

A war of words has erupted between antivirus rivals McAfee (MCAF) and Symantec (SYMC).

McAfee contends, among other things, that Symantec is misleading customers by claiming to stop all known macro viruses on its packaging. "They are giving customers a false sense of security," claimed a McAfee spokesman.

Symantec officials contend McAfee is simply responding to gains made by Symantec in a market dominated by McAfee's VirusScan product. "It's clear to me that the real reason behind this is that our Norton Anti-Virus is beating them in the marketplace with our new version," said Mary Engstrom, general manager of Symantec's antivirus business unit.

McAfee also claims a recent product comparison completed by Norman Hirsch and Associates, at the behest of Symantec, is biased in favor of that vendor. "The test was just baked," the McAfee spokesman said.

The study puts Symantec in a far better light than McAfee, though the McAfee product used in the study was refreshed 11 days later. McAfee points to a recent study completed by Secure Computing, an industry publication, as evidence that their product is better. Predictably, that study gives McAfee double the detection and removal rate of Symantec's product.

Symantec issued a statement this week saying "it is confident that it provides the most up-to-date protection on the market." The latest version of Norton Anti-Virus 2.0 does include a LiveUpdate feature that sends antivirus updates with one click of a button.

Hirsch, a reseller of many antivirus products, posted its own rebuttal to the ongoing dispute between the two companies on its Web site. "We stand by our study," it said.

The McAfee spokesman said his company simply wants Symantec to answer one question: Does its product protect against all known macro viruses? The spokesman said McAfee may take legal action.