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Symantec Beefs Up Cybercrime Tools

Security software giant Symantec (SYMC) has given a glimpse into its technology roadmap, touting a new approach to tackling cybercrime.

Symantec will unveil in September the new versions of its Norton Internet Security and Norton Antivirus technology, which it claims can thwart previously unknown viruses and worms. Typically, security software scans applications for known virus characteristics or "signatures." For previously unseen threats, however, this approach is inadequate, and that has prompted Symantec to rethink its strategy.

Norton Internet Security and Norton Antivirus will be the firm's first products to offer a security technology called Quorum, according to Symantec executives speaking at a cybersecurity event in New York this week.

"We looked at the protection model, and we realized that it had to change very dramatically," David Cole, senior director for Symantec's consumer products, told "There's a hell of a lot of threats out there."

Quorum taps into Norton's Community Watch program, which collects information from millions of Symantec customers. This is then used to check where the application comes from, how common its attributes are, and ultimately, whether it has been seen before.

By using these criteria, Quorum devises a "reputation score," which tells users whether the application is likely to be good or bad. The new Norton products also check for virus signatures, as well as monitoring the behavior of applications once they are up and running, which were both offered on earlier versions of the software.

" Quorum is not going to eliminate the older techniques, and how they were done," explained Cole. "But the main thing is that it promises to give us much, much higher detection rates against unknown malware."

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