Symantec's salvation plan is more and better integration. No, really

New CEO Mike Brown outlines security product mashup plan

Symantec divested Veritas because it never quite convinced anyone that an integrated security and data management company made sense, and its security business has struggled in part because it's not linked its protection products. But the company's new CEO Michael Brown nonetheless thinks that integrating the company's range is the key to turning around Symantec's fortunes.

Brown appeared before the media in Sydney, Australia, today and said “Symantec is built on a lot of acquisitions, and we didn't have a history of making sure the products worked better than they did on their own.” This time around, Brown pledged, that will change and the company will get it right.

First up will be tools that correlate information about security collected at the endpoint, email and the network, to provide a multifaceted view of an enterprise Brown hopes represents intelligence about threats and actual attacks. That effort will be “key innovation in productivity for the folks who protect an environment.”

The first instalment of that strategy, a module for collecting data from endpoints, is due in December. Another 11 products are due to emerge over the 18 months Brown expects it will take Symantec to deliver its “unified security strategy.” Brown's making a big bet on it: he told The Register that the category Symantec wants to own is overall security intelligence, rather than a particular product.

Suits will get their own tools too. Brown said Symantec is working on a security analytics product called “Risk Insight” that will let executives face their boards with good answers to questions like “how safe are we?” This service will use data gathered from Symantec's endpoint security products and analyse it over time to produce a just-about-realtime report on the state of their security.

Today, Brown said, companies trying to assess the state of their security hire consultants to do so, but the expensive report they eventually receive is out of date before it is written. A near-realtime report, he hopes, makes Symantec's whole suite more valuable.

Brown thinks there were good signs in Symantec's recent results, as they showed upticks in enterprise sales after several declining quarters. The new CEO thinks that integrating products and providing better analytics are the key to success and that restoring a 30 per cent operating margin is doable.

Brown also addressed governments' calls for backdoors into products by saying that “as an open society we have to make tradeoffs” to balance security and privacy. The extent of those balances is, he said, “an open question.”

“We need to be aware when we are giving up our privacy,” he said. “If we know that are giving up our encryption keys to law enforcement because we want a different purpose, then that is all in the light of day. It should be in the light of day.”

Symantec, the CEO said, will comply with the law as required. ®

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