Symantec: Identity key to 'Security 2.0'

It said an important part of its strategy will be new identity technologies that give customers a more reliable and trustworthy sense of whom they're interacting with online

With a new generation of consumer security products expected to ship by year's end, Symantec Corp. wants to build a line of security services that better leverage its 50 million worldwide users, a company executive said Wednesday.

"We're making significant investments in something we call Security 2.0, which is ultimately the next generation of consumer security," said Enrique Salem, group president of Symantec's Consumer Products group, speaking at an analyst event in San Mateo, California.

Before the Security 2.0 products ship, however, Symantec plans to refresh its Norton product line and deliver two new consumer products that will offer improved identity-theft protection. The products are a security and backup service called Norton 360, as well as an online commerce security product called Norton Confidential.

Based in part on technology Symantec acquired in its 2005 purchase of security vendor WholeSecurity, Norton Confidential will protect users from known phishing sites and malicious software like the keylogging programs commonly used by criminals. The service will also be able to manage confidential information like passwords and will warn users if they are about to conduct a suspicious online transaction.

Norton 360, which was previously known by the code name "project Genesis," will be a competitor to Microsoft Corp.'s Windows Live OneCare security and backup software. A beta version of the service will be available in July, and Symantec expects to be able to deliver a final version by year's end. But executives have said that Norton 360's release may be pushed back until early 2007 to avoid competing with a refresh of the Norton security products, expected this September.

A major difference between Norton 360 will be Symantec's online backup capability, which will allow users to back up their files to Symantec's servers. Salem would not say how much storage Norton 360 users would get with the base product, but he implied that this would be in the range of 1G bytes. "As people move to backup multiple gigabytes, there will be a premium associated with that," he said.

Like Norton 360, Norton Confidential is expected by year's end, Salem said.

With Windows Live OneCare now muscling in on its consumer security business, Symantec is scrambling to keep its products competitive, while at the same time managing the growing pains of its $13.5 billion purchase of Veritas Software, completed last year.

"We've got to move hard and very fast because we all know that Microsoft will continue to improve their product," Salem said.

Symantec has said that it plans to compete on the technical merits of its products, and an important part of that strategy will be new identity technologies that give customers a more reliable and trustworthy sense of whom they're interacting with online.

"We must deliver a strong identity that creates a more convenient and secure experience for our customers," Salem said.

As part of a future Security 2.0 line of products, the company plans to ask its installed base of 50 million users to provide information on whom they trust -- something Symantec calls Norton ID. "Our users will make determinations on which merchants are more trusted, which users are more trusted," Salem said.

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