Anti-virus tools vie for position in gov't market
No single vendor dominates the federal anti-virus software market, according to agency
Defense Department sites have a choice of anti-virus protection from IBM Corp. and
Norman Data Defense Systems Inc. of Fairfax, Va., through site licensing agreements with
the Defense Information Systems Agency. McAfee Associates Inc. of Santa Clara, Calif., and
Symantec Corp. of Cupertino, Calif., also have sizable DOD installations.
Some civilian agencies license more than one anti-virus package. Command Software
Systems Inc. of Jupiter, Fla., McAfee and Symantec have the largest presences in civilian
About 85,000 Justice Department users have the McAfee VirusScan package, said Andy
Boots, the department's director of systems technology. It has ""allowed us to
stay reasonably current'' as new viruses and variants come into circulation, Boots said.
More than 7,500 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration employees use Norman
Virus Control on their computers, Norman Data Defense officials said. The company recently
added the Energy Department to its roster of site licensees, said Lee Taylor, vice
president of sales and marketing.
Command Software, which co-developed F-Prot Professional with a company in Iceland, has
licensing agreements with a cross-section of departments and agencies. Besides those in
the Page 1 chart, they include the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Federal Communications
Commission and Federal Emergency Management Agency, according to Joanne Urbanik, marketing
The National Institutes of Health's F-Prot Professional license costs only $1 per seat.
""We are reviewing other software packages for 1997 to accommodate Microsoft
Windows NT servers and workstations,'' said Kevin Haney, an NIH information systems
security officer. ""From one point, we want to administer centrally the entire
user base'' of 16,000.
Justice's Boots said $10 per seat is the ""magic number'' for large-scale
licensing agreements. ""Less than that gets people's attention,'' he said.
""$5 is ideal, and $1 is hard to pass up.''
Frank Tirado, information systems security manager at the Agriculture Department, said
F-Prot Professional has been ""good at identifying viruses and variants.''
Another USDA official said departmental headquarters plans to install McAfee's VirusScan
for up to 500 users this fall.
Census uses F-Prot Professional for up to 5,000 seats, according to Scott Williams,
chief of ADP security.
NASA is a big McAfee customer, and some Air Force and Army installations also have
thousands of McAfee users.
The Army's Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Information Management relies on
Symantec's Norton AntiVirus. ""The user interface is intuitive and
user-friendly,'' said contractor Rich Beamer, a senior technical specialist who spoke on
his own behalf. ""Rarely have we found a virus that Norton AntiVirus couldn't
identify and repair.''
The Defense Logistics Agency has 6,600 users of Norton AntiVirus.
The Labor Department standardized on McAfee's VirusScan and NetShield for its 2,500
employees, said Kris Iskandar, director of the office of technical support in Washington.
Some agencies, however, prefer not to wed themselves to one vendor. The Bureau of
Public Debt in Parkersburg, W.Va., employs several packages ""to alleviate the
problem of one package missing several viruses,'' a spokesman said.
The Defense Systems Management College at Fort Belvoir, Va., also follows the
several-package policy, said Jim Dimler, information systems security officer.
Sine Thieme, director of corporate and government sales for Indelible Blue Inc., an IBM
reseller based in Raleigh, N.C., said Energy and the Smithsonian Institution are the
largest civilian customers of IBM AntiVirus in the federal government, with smaller
pockets of users at Agriculture, NIH and the U.S. Courts.