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Network Associates to offer consulting

The maker of antivirus software is adding network-management consulting to its list of services.

Network Associates unveiled on Tuesday a new consulting and education division.

The maker of antivirus software said the unit would help companies slim down their networks to the essentials to increase performance and improve security.

The move comes as the federal government increases pressure on businesses to lock down their systems, causing many to seek advice on taming the complexity of their networks.

"The IT (information technology) managers out there can't do it by themselves anymore," said Gretchen Hellman, senior product line manager for the new group. "Nowadays, a security problem isn't a security problem--it's a network-management problem."

Hellman cited statistics showing that up to 40 percent of companies have networks that are overly complex. By streamlining the network, administrators can more easily manage it and keep it secure, she said.

"We can pinpoint inefficiencies...and get companies' response time (to a security incident) down so they can detect an outbreak and clean it up in 2 hours," Hellman said.

To create the new group, the Santa Clara, Calif., company has consolidated the service components of its McAfee Security antivirus technology division and its Sniffer Technologies intrusion-detection division.

The formation of the division follows a great deal of activity in the security industry. Two weeks ago, a series of announcements heralded new corporate initiatives to integrate security products more closely to make them easier to manage.

And Network Associates' rival Symantec announced the acquisition of three companies, among them Riptech and Security Focus, that will help the security giant beef up its services.

Yet, Hellman stressed that the company is not playing catch-up with competitors.

"We are not focused on the managed-services space like Symantec," Hellman said. "The expertise that we have, we have had for some time. The thing that has been missing is corporate focus."