When the Melissa virus struck recently, they needed a cure, pronto.

And users I talked with said they got it from Symantec Corp. of Cupertino, Calif.,
whose Norton antivirus software was the top-rated brand in the GCN survey.

“Symantec had the Melissa fix out there within 36 hours,” said John Engstrom,
an IRS computer audit specialist in Tampa, Fla., who uses Symantec’s Norton antivirus
5.0. “I was impressed with that. I like the support I get from Symantec.”

Engstrom also commended Norton’s scheduled scanning features.

“I like the fact that I can choose what I want to scan all the time, and then it
reminds me every Friday to do a complete scan of all programs,” he said. “I do a
lot of heavy data processing, and you never know what you’ll find inside some of
these files people give you.”

Another big plus for Engstrom is Norton’s user-friendliness. “The interface
on 5.0 is real slick,” he said. “There is not as much of ‘wonder what this
means’ stuff.”

At Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, systems administrators had no problems with
Melissa because they were able to get the Melissa patch quickly from Symantec, support
group executive Steve Cicherski said.

Cicherski is another fan of Norton’s simplicity of use. “It just works
automatically on the LAN,” he said. “That’s what I like.”

In addition to its top rating, Norton owns a significant chunk of the market surveyed,
with a 37 percent share.

Network Associates Inc. of Santa Clara, Calif., rated No. 2 in the survey for its
McAfee line of antivirus software, has an 18 percent slice of the installed base, the
survey found.

But look for Network Associates’ share to grow as a result of merger mania in the
antivirus software industry. The company recently bought Dr. Solomon’s Software Inc.,
whose antivirus software is used by 7 percent of feds canvassed. Those users rated Dr.
Solomon’s third in the survey.

A Network Associates official told GCN that the company is developing a new product
line for enterprise customers that will integrate the Dr. Solomon’s antivirus engine
into the McAfee Total Virus Defense suite.

But Network Associates will retain the Dr. Solomon’s name for its retail products,
adding a new interface and new features to the current Dr. Solomon’s line of consumer
software, the official said.

Feds we talked with about Network Associates’ software had mixed experiences.

At the Air Force Reserves center in Colorado Springs, Colo., systems administrators ran
into trouble when installing a new McAfee version.

“We had a lot of difficulty installing version 4.0.2 after removing 3.0.2,”
database manager Roger Wolf said. “Once we ran the latest signature file, we were
getting a lot of scan.dat errors and it was a real involved process. We had to be sure not
to reboot the PC at any prior step to getting all the way through the signature update or
else we were confronted with that error.”

Wolf said they had not had any problems before that upgrade. “The leap from 3.0.2
to 4.0.2 was a bizarre flow of installing steps compared to previous versions,” he

At the Geological Survey’s Biological Research Division in Wellsboro, Pa.,
database and network manager Leslie Mengel has found installing McAfee VirusScan updates a
bit confusing.

“The thing I don’t like is I cannot tell whether it’s a demonstration
version or a real version,” he said. “McAfee probably knows but they’re not
letting the rest of us know. They should do something to make their manuals easier to

At the Army’s Adjutant General School, Soldier Support Institute at Fort Jackson,
S.C., digital technology director Jim Ard said McAfee does a better job of cleaning
viruses than most other programs he’s tested and used.

But he’s never been happy with getting only monthly updates. “New viruses pop
up almost daily,” he said, adding that weekly updates would help significantly.

Network Associates, however, “has been great about getting patches out to cover
major virus infections as needed,” he said. “Melissa was a good example.”

Generally, users of Dr. Solomon’s antivirus products said they found them easy to

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