April 10, 2006 8:02 AM PDT

McAfee unafraid of Microsoft security push

In June, Microsoft is expected to launch Windows OneCare Live, which is the company's long-anticipated entry into the consumer antivirus space. The company plans to charge $49.95 a year to shield up to three PCs against viruses, spyware and other cyberthreats.

However, although Microsoft's late entry into the security application market does pose a threat to McAfee's business, company president Kevin Weiss told ZDNet Australia last week that security requires dedication and specialization.

"Security is hard--we have been doing this for 15 years. We have over 10 patents that are focused right at security. We think we have a pretty significant lead in what we are doing. Security is not something you do part-time," Weiss said.

Weiss cited an example of how he believes Microsoft's thinking is fundamentally flawed when it comes to security: "If you are in an airport lounge and they have a PC that lets people do their e-mail remotely, look at how many Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents get downloaded? Microsoft doesn't allow you to look at those documents without downloading them to the PC. That is, for me, an indication that they don't think about security all the time," said Weiss.

Microsoft said it is going to let its customers decide who they want to trust with their security applications.

Peter Watson, Microsoft Australia's chief security advisor, told ZDNet Australia last week that although the company is hoping to woo both consumers and enterprise customers, it still sees vendors such as McAfee, Symantec and Sophos as partners.

"We look at the antivirus vendors out there and see them as partners. In XP, we have the security center, which allows users to choose whether they want to use our security components or if they want to install products from a third-party vendor. They are allowed to do that," Watson said.

One of Weiss's biggest criticisms of Microsoft's security products was the lack of integration. That is unsurprising, seeing as McAfee only last week announced a revamp of its security applications with better integration and improved management features.

"The interesting thing, though, is that (Microsoft's) solution is really addressing yesterday's problem--not necessarily today's or tomorrow's. There is no integrated anti-spyware. It is a stand-alone solution. There is no antiphishing. There is no antispam," Weiss said.

In response, Watson denied that Microsoft's security products are not integrated: "All Microsoft security products are actually integrated--but we have allowed structures so if these people want to choose products from another party they can turn our components off and install a third-party product."

Watson also argued that Microsoft looks at protecting a whole ecosystem that includes everything from the operating system to applications to users in different environments.

"We take a broader view of security--not just looking the value of our security solutions and individual components but also in terms of how is that going to enable the whole ecosystem," he said.

"If you look at the investment Microsoft is making into security, then we invest a large part of our research dollars--about a third. From a Microsoft standpoint, we see security as a key component to our business," Watson said.

McAfee's Weiss couldn't help having a little dig at Microsoft's chairman: "There may not be any antispam in there, because Bill Gates two years ago at the RSA conference said spam would be gone in two years--so maybe he thinks it is gone, so they didn't bother," Weiss said.

On a serious note, Weiss admitted that McAfee could not afford to underestimate Microsoft or any other competitor. However, he believes that the one way Microsoft could grab a large share of the market in a short period of time would most likely be frowned upon by fair-trade bodies.

Microsoft "could really capture the market if they bundled (OneCare) with the operating system--but I think the EU (European Union) would have something to say about that, and I think the U.S. Justice Department would have something to say about that as well," Weiss added.

Munir Kotadia of ZDNet Australia reported from Sydney.

See more CNET content tagged:
McAfee Inc., security application, security, anti-spam, component

14 comments

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MS Too Slow
Among other things, to be a credible antivirus vendor, Microsoft will have to prove that it's capable of acting quickly.

The snail's pace at which MS fixes known security holes in IE damages their security credibility.

(Typing this using Firefox. -LOL)
Posted by john55440 (1020 comments )
Reply Link Flag
MS Too Slow
Among other things, to be a credible antivirus vendor, Microsoft will have to prove that it's capable of acting quickly.

The snail's pace at which MS fixes known security holes in IE damages their security credibility.

(Typing this using Firefox. -LOL)
Posted by john55440 (1020 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You have to admit, SP2 is working
there are way less virus going around now.
Posted by bobby_brady (765 comments )
Reply Link Flag
". . . way less viruses" ?
Then why does our virus definitions file grow by 5000 or more viruses a month?

But OTOH, you may be correct. Seems like most wintel machines are being infected with worms, not viruses.

The best way we've found to protect our Windows machines is to block most email attachments, block all downloading, and only allow them to connect to a very limited list of approved websites.
Posted by rcrusoe (1305 comments )
Link Flag
You have to admit, SP2 is working
there are way less virus going around now.
Posted by bobby_brady (765 comments )
Reply Link Flag
". . . way less viruses" ?
Then why does our virus definitions file grow by 5000 or more viruses a month?

But OTOH, you may be correct. Seems like most wintel machines are being infected with worms, not viruses.

The best way we've found to protect our Windows machines is to block most email attachments, block all downloading, and only allow them to connect to a very limited list of approved websites.
Posted by rcrusoe (1305 comments )
Link Flag
Own worst enemy?
When McAfee stops categorizing the Serv-U ftp server as a trojan/virus just because a long time ago some butt posted a corrupted version of it containing a virus to a download site, then I'll start to think they might have some credibility again.
Posted by GlennAl (25 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Shoul worry about REAL competition
McAfee should really be worried about Trend Micro, Avast, or any other company that makes a decent product. They are just as bad as Norton, which likes to classify the competition products as spyware.
Posted by i_am_still_wade (250 comments )
Link Flag
Own worst enemy?
When McAfee stops categorizing the Serv-U ftp server as a trojan/virus just because a long time ago some butt posted a corrupted version of it containing a virus to a download site, then I'll start to think they might have some credibility again.
Posted by GlennAl (25 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Shoul worry about REAL competition
McAfee should really be worried about Trend Micro, Avast, or any other company that makes a decent product. They are just as bad as Norton, which likes to classify the competition products as spyware.
Posted by i_am_still_wade (250 comments )
Link Flag
Funny
10 patents related to security!!! Good one.
Posted by Johnny Mnemonic (374 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Funny
10 patents related to security!!! Good one.
Posted by Johnny Mnemonic (374 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Tested The Beta - it was WAY to much of a resource hog
Tested The Beta - it was WAY to much of a resource hog

I havent tested the next versions yet but a few months ago I ran the Beta of one care and while it seemed to be a great solution for people who just want the system to work it used FAR too many resources to do far too little - Memory and CPU usage was HUGE
Posted by Silver_2000 (51 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Tested The Beta - it was WAY to much of a resource hog
Tested The Beta - it was WAY to much of a resource hog

I havent tested the next versions yet but a few months ago I ran the Beta of one care and while it seemed to be a great solution for people who just want the system to work it used FAR too many resources to do far too little - Memory and CPU usage was HUGE
Posted by Silver_2000 (51 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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