MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (
CEO Enrique Salem has added his voice to the chorus of concern that core U.S. national infrastructure such as the power grid is highly
"The attackers now are going after everything," he told
in an interview after the company's
on Wednesday. "They are going after critical infrastructure like the power grid."
Symantec, which has a vast network for monitoring cyber threats, helped unearth the Stuxnet worm last year, which targeted industrial software and equipment, most notably within Iran's nuclear program. Salem believes the highly sophisticated
Windows worm should serve as a massive wake up call.
"Stuxnet was the canary in the coalmine, the harbinger of things to come," he said. "Attacks kind of build on each other -- we have got to believe that we see more attacks that use the same capabilities and approaches
as Stuxnet to target a wider range of critical infrastructure."
Salem was unwilling to specify which parts of U.S. national infrastructure could be targeted. There has, however, been speculation that telecom networks, financial systems, transportation and government services could also be at risk of cyber attack.
Cyber security is high profile at the moment thanks to a spate of headline-grabbing attacks in recent months which targeted defense contractor
, a trend which boosted Symantec's first-quarter numbers.
The software maker comfortably beat Wall Street's estimates and also offered robust guidance amidst a threat environment that Salem characterized as "toxic and targeted." The CEO also noted the continued explosion in data that is fuelling demand for Symantec's storage software.
"That is helping our key businesses like backup and archiving and our data loss prevention business," he told
. "The threat landscape is ever changing and customers want our help."
Symantec shares closed up $1.07, or 5.84%, at $19.49 on Thursday, as investors digested the company's results. Crucially, the execution problems that weighed on Symantec into 2010 are disappearing.
Symantec is taking another important step in the right direction that should give investors increased confidence that this once-derailed recovery story is back on track," explained Daniel Ives, an analyst at FBR Capital Markets, in a note released on Thursday, rating the company 'market perform'.
--Written by James Rogers in New York.
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