Symantec releases Norton Antibot

Symantec is positioning its new Norton Antibot as an 'additional layer of security.' The new product is aimed at snagging 'bots,' or Internet robots, the nasty little critters that can take over your computer put it at the command of spammers or hackers.

'We've seen a dramatic increase in the botnet landscape,' Ed Kim, Symantec's director of product management, told GCN. 'We saw over 6 million active bots in the second half of 2006, that was a 29 percent increase over the previous six months. And it's rapidly growing.'

One thing that makes bots particularly dangerous is that, unlike viruses, they don't have a unique 'signature.' 'They are evolving in real time,' said Kim. 'By the time you get a signature out it has already morphed.'

Accordingly, a program that targets bots has to look for suspicious behavior rather than signatures. That's just what Norton Antibot does.

Norton Antibot is not the first or only antivirus product to monitor for suspicious behavior. It is likely that Symantec is adding a behavior-based tool to its arsenal because of the growing prevalence of morphing bots.

What is curious, however, is that Symantec is marketing Norton Antibot only to the consumer market and only as a standalone product, with a price tag of $29.99.

Kim said there are two reasons Symantec didn't integrate the program's features into its existing antivirus products. 'We wanted to get this out as quickly as possible, and we found that the fastest way to bring a solution to market was as a standalone product rather than integrat[ing] it into our core products,' said Kim. 'Secondly, we wanted to bring this as a standalone so that non-Norton users could also benefit from this.'

About the Author

Patrick Marshall is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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