Symantec CEO: I'll AXE up to 4 in 10 execs by July

How the cookie crumbles when profit tumbles 66%


Symantec's profits collapsed last quarter amid a company-wide restructure that will axe bosses and rejig routes to market.

For the final three months of fiscal 2013, which ended 31 March, the company's earnings tumbled 66 per cent on the year before to $188m (£121m). Turnover climbed four per cent to $1.748bn (£1.13bn), the largest organic growth rate in five years.

The consumer arm of the security and storage biz made up 30 per cent of revenues, Security & Compliance represented 30 per cent of sales, Storage and Server Management accounted for 36 per cent and Services four per cent.

Stephen Bennett, CEO and president of the security and storage software maker, is in the midst of a giant reorg in a bid to create Symantec 4.0 - he is the fourth chief at the firm. He has promised to turn around the firm's ailing fortunes.

"We delivered better-than-expected results for the quarter and the year," he said in a conference call with analysts.

Sales for the whole year grew three per cent to $6.9bn (£4.45bn) and the profit decline was less severe, dropping 34.7 per cent to $765m (£493m).

Bennett who came on board to replace ousted chief exec Enrique Salem in October, initiated a turnaround plan in January, vowing to slash bureaucracy and invigorate sales.

The re-org is expected to axe up to 1,000 staffers, and EMEA boss John Brigden has moved back to the US to be succeeded by the veep for Northern Europe Matt Ellard.

Bennett said on the analyst call last night that "FY 2014 will be different. Many critical things will be changing like completing the streamlining of our management structure", due by the end of July.

"We are reducing the number of layers and increasing spans of control for our managers to industry standard levels in an attempt to increase the speed of decision making, and improve accountability and execution," the CEO added.

He expects that 30 to 40 per cent of management positions will be eliminated - "we will have fewer bigger jobs for our best and brightest" - and the vendor will lure "talent from the outside".

Symantec is merging its Norton and SEP portfolio as the "threat landscape evolves and the consumer and enterprise worlds continue to converge". The entire group will be split into ten focus areas to minimise confusion for partners and customers.

Routes to market have not escaped the CEO's beady eye either: Symantec is creating a renewals team; concentrating the direct sales peeps on new business wins; overhauling the sales compensation programme; and converting generalist sales bods into Information Management or Information Security specialists.

Bennett said channel partners can expect a revamped channel strategy too and a fresh "set of partner programmes".

Deals with computer makers will also be scrutinised, he added, and his executives "will not sign any new agreement that don't make financial sense".

All this upheaval could impact results in the short term, the company warned, and it is forecasting revenue growth of zero to 2 per cent for fiscal 2014. ®

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • North Korea's Lazarus cyber-gang caught 'spying' on chemical sector companies
    Crypto-coin theft isn't enough to keep these miscreants busy

    North Korea's Lazarus cybercrime gang is now breaking into chemical sector companies' networks to spy on them, according to Symantec's threat intel team.

    While the Korean crew's recent, and highly profitable, thefts of cryptocurrency have been in the headlines, the group still keeps its spying hand in. Fresh evidence has been found linking a recent espionage campaign against South Korean targets to file hashes, file names, and tools previously used by Lazarus, according to Symantec.

    The security shop says the spy operation is likely a continuation of the state-sponsored snoops' Operation Dream Job, which started back in August 2020. This scheme involved using phony job offers to trick job seekers into clicking on links or opening malicious attachments, which then allowed the criminals to install spyware on the victims' computers.

    Continue reading
  • Russian-linked Shuckworm crew ramps up Ukraine attacks
    Cyber-espionage gang using multiple variants of its custom backdoor to ensure persistence, Symantec warns

    A Russian-linked threat group that has almost exclusively targeted Ukraine since it first appeared on the scene in 2014 is deploying multiple variants of its malware payload on systems within the country.

    The Shuckworm gang – also known as Armageddon and Gamaredon – is using at least four distinct variants of its Pterodo backdoor that are designed to perform similar tasks but communicate with different command-and-control (C2) servers, according to Symantec's Threat Hunter Team.

    "The most likely reason for using multiple variants is that it may provide a rudimentary way of maintaining persistence on an infected computer," the researchers wrote in a blog post Wednesday. "If one payload or [C2] server is detected and blocked, the attackers can fall back on one of the others and roll out more new variants to compensate."

    Continue reading
  • Kaspersky cracks Yanluowang ransomware, offers free decryptor
    Step one, get some scrambled files back. Steps two through 37...

    Kaspersky has found a vulnerability in the Yanluowang ransomware encryption algorithm and, as a result, released a free decryptor tool to help victims of this software nasty recover their files.

    Yanluowang, named after a Chinese deity and underworld judge, is a type of ransomware that has been used against financial institutions and other firms in America, Brazil, and Turkey as well as a smaller number of organizations in Sweden and China, Kaspersky said yesterday. The Russian security shop said it found a fatal flaw in the ransomware's encryption system and those afflicted can get a free fix to restore their scrambled data.

    Symantec's threat hunters uncovered this Windows ransomware strain in the fall and said unknown fiends have been using it to infect US corporations since at least August 2021.

    Continue reading
  • Mutating Verblecon malware in illicit cryptomining ... so far
    Symantec team warns ransomware and spying could be next

    Internet fiends are using a relatively new piece of a malicious code dubbed Verblecon to install cryptominers on infected computers. 

    The mutating malware attempts to evade detection by antivirus tools and similar defenses, meaning bad news all round if the software was used to deploy more destructive payloads — and that the crooks using Verblecon may not realize the power of the loader's full potential.

    "The activity we have seen carried out using this sophisticated loader indicates that it is being wielded by an individual who may not realize the capabilities of the malware they are using," Symantec's threat hunting team warned today.

    Continue reading
  • How do China's cyber-spies snoop on governments, NGOs? Probably like this
    Cicada's months-long global espionage campaign marks an expansion of team's capabilities

    A China-backed crew is said to be running a global espionage campaign against governments, religious groups, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) by, in some cases, possibly exploiting a vulnerability in Microsoft Exchange servers.

    +Symantec's Threat Hunter Team said the campaign, which aims to spy on targeted victims and steal information, likely started in mid-2021, with the most recent activity detected in February. It may still be going on, the researchers observed in a report this week.

    The Threat Hunter Team team is attributing the attacks to Cicada, also known as APT10 – a group that has been operating for more than a decade and that intelligence agencies in the US have linked to China's Ministry of State Security. The researchers are pointing at Cicada because a custom loader and custom malware that have been used exclusively by the group were found in victims' networks.

    Continue reading
  • China-linked malware targeted secure networks in 'multiple governments'
    'Daxin' malware creates backdoors and may have been used since 2013

    The United States' Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), working with security vendor Symantec, has found an extremely sophisticated network attack tool that can invisibly create backdoors, has been plausibly linked to Chinese actors, and may have been in use since 2013.

    Symantec's threat hunting team has named the malware "Daxin" and described it as "a stealthy backdoor designed for attacks on hardened networks". The Broadcom-owned security firm says it's found samples of the malware dating back to 2013, and that features present in recent versions were also found in older cuts of the code. Those recent versions of the malware have been associated with "China-linked threat actors".

    CISA's advisory about the malware describes it as "a highly sophisticated rootkit backdoor with complex, stealthy command and control functionality that enabled remote actors to communicate with secured devices not connected directly to the internet". The agency asserts that Daxin "appears to be optimized for use against hardened targets, allowing the actors to deeply burrow into targeted networks and exfiltrate data without raising suspicions".

    Continue reading
  • NortonLifeLock sniffs around Avast, announces 'advanced discussions' for acquisition
    Company now has 28 days to make up its mind

    NortonLifeLock, the somewhat clunky moniker adopted by the former consumer business arm of the Symantec Corporation, has announced "advanced discussions" with rival Avast over a possible merger.

    "A combination of NortonLifeLock and Avast would bring together two companies with aligned visions, highly complementary business profiles and a joint commitment to innovation that helps protect and empower people to live their digital lives safely," a NortonLifeLock spokesperson claimed in a message to investors.

    "We would draw on the best of both companies to ensure that the combination would benefit our customers, reward our employees and maximise long term value for all shareholders."

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022