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Symantec to offer SMS notification of viruses

Network World Fusion

(IDG) -- Symantec in the second quarter of this year will offer live notification of Internet-borne viruses and virus fixes to its customers outside North America and Europe, using Short Message Service to send alerts to mobile phones. The company also plans to offer the new service to some customers in the U.S. and Europe.

When Symantec researchers become aware of a virus and have devised a fix for it, the company will be able to notify customers not only via e-mail and fax but in a 120-character SMS message that goes out to a company's security manager in real time, says Gary Ulaner, group product manager for Symantec's Enterprise Solution Division.

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The optional service will fill in a gap for corporate customers in regions where Symantec has not offered a Platinum support service with a dedicated Symantec security specialist on call, Ulaner said in an interview Wednesday. For current Platinum customers it will offer another option for round-the-clock notification of viruses.

Up to now, customers outside North America and Europe have had to rely on e-mail or fax for notification of new viruses, because Symantec has only offered its basic Gold level of support to them. Offices of large U.S. multinationals in other regions likewise have not been able to take advantage of real-time notification.

"If you look at a typical administrator, they're rarely sitting at their desks waiting for e-mail," Ulaner said. And when a virus is on the loose anywhere in the world, time is of the essence in alerting users in the company and downloading a defense as soon as it is available. The SMS message will notify the administrator of the severity of the virus and direct him or her to the location on Symantec's site where more information or a fix is available.

Symantec has about 1,000 corporate customers in Hong Kong, Ulaner said. Among other locations, it also has operations in South Korea, Japan, Australia, India, Taiwan and Singapore, as well as Latin America, the Middle East and Africa.

The service, code-named Symantec Alerting Service, has completed a test in Asia and will be available in the second quarter as an option for Symantec's Gold customers outside the U.S. and Europe. It will be priced between $250 and $500 per year, Ulaner said.

Administrators will be able to customize how they want to be notified of a threat depending on the level of severity as defined by Symantec in five levels.

The SMS service also will be offered in the U.S. and Europe to Platinum customers and possibly later to Gold customers, although Symantec still needs to work out whether it can scale up enough to serve the thousands of Gold customers in the U.S., Ulaner said.

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