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Anti-Virus in 1999 - Time to Review

Anti-Virus market consolidation offers end users a unique opportunity to review their solution, says META Group white paper; companies focused on Year 2000 ignore anti-virus at their peril

Cupertino, Calif. June 1, 1999 - Companies should take advantage of consolidation in the anti-virus market over the last twelve months and make 1999 the year they re-evaluate their anti-virus strategy, says leading market analyst firm, the META Group, in a white paper entitled "Anti-virus: Time to Review."

The report adds that Year 2000 provides an added impetus to companies to evaluate their anti-virus strategy. As the new millennium approaches, META warns companies against neglecting anti-virus requirements and says they should ensure their anti-virus protection is up-to-date to deal with virus threats created by hackers who see 2000 as "a milestone event to create additional havoc."

The basis for the META report is a series of mergers, alliances and acquisitions between the main anti-virus players last year. Symantec (Nasdaq: SYMC) signed an alliance with IBM in May 1998 in which IBM assigned to Symantec its anti-virus customer base. IBM is marketing and recommending Norton AntiVirus to its customers worldwide. In August, Network Associates paid $640 million for Dr. Solomon's. And in September and October, Symantec announced purchases of Intel's anti-virus business and Quarterdeck respectively.

"The net result is that tens of thousands of European corporate anti-virus customers are going to have to replace their anti-virus solution because their supplier is no longer in the market," says Jack Gold, senior program director with the META Group. The white paper tells these customers to seize the opportunity to re-think their strategy and not simply gravitate towards using the vendor that has acquired the technology they currently have installed. "Now is the time to re-evaluate from a clean sheet of paper," says META.

Kurt Schlegel, META Group's lead analyst on anti-virus tools, says corporates need to evaluate supplier competence by taking into account multiple factors including breadth of security services offered, minimization of cost of ownership, architectural coherence, amount of resources the vendor offers and the speed and availability of upgrade.

The META Group white paper also states: "A vendor's migration or deployment capability, which will in all cases necessitate de-installation and re-installation, presents the user with a prime opportunity to assess a top tier vendor in meeting their specific requirements."

"Our experience over the last six months suggests that a lot of companies are already following the META Group's advice," says Dana Siebert, executive vice president worldwide sales, marketing and support for Symantec. "Network Associates and former Dr. Solomon's customers are transitioning to Norton AntiVirus because we offer high levels of customer service and support as well as technical features such as single extensible engine architecture which makes the Norton AntiVirus easy to administrate and reduces the cost of ownership significantly. We have also invested considerable resources into developing transition assistance services to help companies migrate to Norton AntiVirus cost-effectively and with minimal impact on end-user productivity."

The META Group white paper also warns companies against delaying decisions to review their anti-virus solution because of Year 2000 concerns. Instead, META says companies should make sure their anti-virus protection is up-to-date and capable of dealing with security threats that may arise as hackers seek to make a name for themselves in the new millennium.

The white paper says: "It's easy to see how an anti-virus strategy could take a strategic back seat. However, we believe it is imperative that organizations do not ignore anti-virus issues. The cost associated with protecting against virus infections ($20-$50/user) are trivial compared to Y2K costs (potentially multi-million dollar investments)."

Jack Gold of META says: "The Melissa virus outbreak has made organizations realize the implications of virus infection. An attack targeting a file server with customer information or financial data can easily wipe out the entire data contents, thus putting the organization out of business until data is recovered (requiring hours or even days to complete, and costing the organizations thousands to hundred of thousands of dollars). We believe that organizations should do all they can to protect against this possible outcome, rather than risk the consequences, especially for the relatively small cost of protection. Adequate anti-virus protection must be an important component of any comprehensive Y2K effort."

To obtain a copy of the META Group white paper please contact: Richard Saunders - rsaunders@symantec.com or (408) 446 7550.

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