Monday, July 30, 2012

Webroot Going After Symantec Business Customers (but not by name)

A couple of week ago, some Symantec users got to experience the “Blue Screen of Death”.

According to a posting after the problem leading to the blue screen of death  was resolved.  "The root cause of the issue was an incompatibility due to a three-way interaction between some third-party software that implements a file system driver using kernel stack based file objects — typical of encryption drivers, the SONAR signature and the Windows XP Cache manager," Symantec Security Response team member Orla Cox said in a blog post.  "The SONAR signature update caused new file operations that create the conflict and led to the system crash."
A blue eye for Symantec.  They explained further in the post how they were going modify the test process to prevent this from happening again.  

In  a late July  “How to stop feeling blue” email campaign (and without mentioning Symantec), Webroot has felt your hurt, and has a solution. Of course, it does involve a product switch ;).

“PC users around the world recently found themselves facing the dreaded blue screen of death.  It's not the first time a security update caused system crashes, and it won't be the last.  How can you avoid becoming the next victim?  Switching to Webroot® SecureAnywhere™ Business – Endpoint protection is the only solution that solves the update problem.  Plus, you'll always get superior support from Webroot—whether your company has 25 users or 25,000.”

"Issues of false positives and ‘blue screens of death" are down to anti-virus technology being 20 years out of date.”  Dan Raywood, SC Magazine UK, July 18, 2012

To help alleviate your hurt, Webroot is offering businesses   a 30-day free trial or an up to 6-month competitive swap out. 
This could get interesting if Symantec chooses to respond.  They   both contract with Passmark Software to perform comparative tests for them.  Passmark  is a privately owned software development group with a head office in Sydney, Australia.  www.passmarkcom

It could be hard to find  a lot of independent third party testing of both products.

Both companies have products that scored 15.5 points out of 18.0 in a certification test by  AV-Test last week.

 Symantec is not participating in AV-comparative’s testing this year.  In their latest  Whole Product Dynamic Real World Protection test, Webroot received a “Tested” rating, with  a large number “compromised” files.   Webroot received one star (3 is tops) in the March  On-demand Detection of Malicious Software test. .  They were last in false positives, twelfth in file detection rate.  

Symantec hasn't been participating in Virus Bulletin's VB100 testing.  Webroot had false positive issues in that test and failed to receive a VB100 in December 2011 testing (the most recent test they participated in).

Look for updated battle cards to be created.  Or not. A Symantec  response may be stealthy.  This is when marketing gets to be interesting. 

July AV-Test Product Review and Certification Report – May Through June 2012

During May and June, AV-Test (   ) tested twenty-five consumer   internet security products in the areas of protection, repair, and usability.  The highest score possible in each category was 6.0.  The test was on Windows 7. Go  to their   web site for the individual scores and to download free one-page reports on each of the companies.  The web site doesn’t total and rank the results.  No products failed certification. McAfee barely received certification, with the low score of 11.0.

AV-Test Top Scores  - May Through June Test
  • BitDefender Internet Security 2012 – 17.0
  • Kaspersky Internet Security 2012 – 16.5
  • F-Secure Internet Security 2012 – 16.5
  • Check Point Zone Alarm Free Antivirus – 16.0
Newly added to the test, Check Point ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus + Firewall, Fortinet FortiClient Lite and Lavasoft Ad-Aware Free Antivirus.

Kaspersky Internet Security 2012 was  Product of the Year, with BitDefender Internet Security 2012, F-Secure Internet Security, and Avira Internet Security 2012 receiving  Top Rated recognition.

AV-Test Top Products  in the March April Test  
  • BitDefender Internet Security – 17.0
  • Kaspersky Internet Security  - 16.5
  • F-Secure Internet Security - 16.0
  • G Data Internet Security  16.0
To see a table of the top ten and the scores  for this test and the scores, go to
There are many test groups out there.  You should also look at test results from Virus Bulletin  and AV-comparatives  as well.


The AV-TEST Institute is a leading international and independent service provider in the fields of IT security and anti-virus research.  The aim of the research work carried out by AV-TEST is to directly detect the latest malware, to analyze it using state-of-the-art methods and to inform their customers of the top-quality results obtained.   

Saturday, July 28, 2012

What is Facebook worth Revisited - Latest Earnings Report - Employee Stock Lock-Up Expiring Shortly

Facebook released their financial results on Thursday.  Facebook’s  growth figures in their first quarter   as a public company following their IPO would have been impressive for most companies.  Nonetheless,    

Facebook stock took ­­ a  face plant following   the earnings release.  Below is a second quarter summary of their financial results. On Friday, Facebook closed at $23.71.  This gives them a market capitalization of $44.5 billion.  Click to enlarge the table.  CEO Zuckerberg may stay under the radar for the next several weeks.  


 The $95 to $100 billion  IPO pundits are taking a low profile.  Probably focusing on their tweeting.

In May, GreenCrest Capital’s Max Wolf felt that Facebook's  financial numbers suggested a valuation of $60 billion.  This is 37%   less than the $96 billion Facebook was thinking of.  His figure as of July 27, is off by only $15 billion, on the high side. 

Also in May,  Anup Srivastava, an assistant professor of accounting information and management, Kellogg School of Management, ran a valuation model and arrived at  a base case valuation  of $25 billion.  “This is based on the firm’s revenues reaching approximately $21 billion in ten years’ time from approximately $4 billion today, and the firm maintaining a high return on assets of approximately 20 percent.”   His model, as of July 27, is off by only $19 billion, on the low side.  The last link at the bottom of this blog leads to Srivastava’s original article in “Expertly Wrapped” an online publication by Kellogg faculty. This also provides  a link to his valuation model.  Discounted cash flow analyses can be a good thing!

As an amusing aside, average the two figures above by these individuals - $44.8 billion, off by only $0.3 billion !  A sample of two smartest guys in the room probably doesn’t qualify for wisdom of crowds status. 

Facebook will free up nearly 1.7 billion shares -  four times the number now trading,  beginning in August.  Provisions   currently barring  employees from selling their holdings will start.  Unfortunately for the employees, if they execute these immediately, they are taxed as regular income. 

Shares of online coupon purveyor Groupon Inc. declined 8.9% when its lock-up expired on June 1.  The stock dropped nearly 20% that week. Likewise, shares of online gaming company Zynga Inc. fell 7.9% when its lock-up expired on May 29. The stock price ended up falling    9.1% for the week.  Look for some sort of dip as Facebook employees start selling some of their stock,  and people continue accessing Facebook on their mobiles. No revenue for Facebook when they do this.

Real estate agents in Palo Alto,  Atherton, and Menlo Park (where Facebook is headquartered), are probably looking at Facebook’s stock price a lot more than mortgage lending rates. 


Thursday, July 26, 2012

AV-Comparatives Retrospective Proactive Test – July 2012

AV-Comparatives ( has released their  Retrospective Proactive test, July 2012.  This is their test for the heuristic detection and behavioral protection against new/unknown malicious software.  Twenty vendor antivirus (internet security) products were tested.  Eleven products received the top rating of Advanced+, or three stars.Congrats to the top eleven!

The top four products were from
  • Kaspersky
  • BitDefender
  • F-Secure
  • G Data
 Double congrats and bravilna to the top four!  Kaspersky and BitDefender had the highest “Heuristic +Behavioral Protection Rate”, at 97%.  Ahnlab received the lowest designation, “tested” and Qihoo had over 100 false alarms. GFI and Fortinet weren't far behind.   At the other extreme, Microsoft and Eset had the fewest false alarms, at less than three.

It’s worthwhile to go to the web site, download and read the whole report to gain insights on the AV-comparatives test methodology for this report.  The web site has been redesigned. Check it out.

About AV-Comparatives

AV-Comparatives is an Austrian Non-Profit-Organization, which provides independent Anti-Virus software tests free to the public.  Go to the AV-comparatives website for complete details about the organization, the many tests they perform, and to download copies of test reports.

Status and Future of Symantec

It has to be a sad day when you lose your CEO title and the company stock has its biggest gain since July 2001,   17%.  Symantec replaced Enrique Salem with board chair Steve Bennett on Wednesday.  Symantec stock has been dropping steadily from a 52 week high of $19.81 to a recent low of $13.06.  As of 12:50 Eastern Standard on 7/26, $15.40 (post Salem removal).

"While progress has been made over the last three years in many areas, it was the board's judgment that it was in the best interests of Symantec to make a change in the CEO," said Steve Bennett, chairman, president, and CEO.  Bennett had been running the show at Intuit from 2000 to 2007 before joining Symantec several years ago.  You can't call the Salem removal a witch hunt. It was time for a change.

Below are some 2012 Q1 revenue figures for Symantec

  •     GAAP Revenue of $1.668 billion
  •     Non-GAAP Operating Margin of 26.1%
  •     Non-GAAP Earnings per Share of $0.43
  •     GAAP Deferred Revenue of $3.745 billion
  •     Cash Flow from Operations of $340 million

However, the GAAP revenue was up only 1 percent year-over-year and up 4 percent after adjusting for currency.  Income actually dropped, from $191 million to $172 million

Symantec’s 5-year stock high was in August 2008 at around $22.  Their 5-year low was in October 2008, at around $11.  Note a good year for them.  The fact that the stock is currently $14 demonstrates how stagnant the company has been over the last several years.

Symantec’s performance in a  Gartner  Magic Quadrant  is mixed.  They’re not in the Leader’s section of Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Mobile Data Protection (three competitors are).  They’re a Challenger for Secure Web Gateways (five competitors are in the Leaders portion).  They are the Leader for Data Loss Prevention (with five other companies) and for Endpoint Protection Platforms (with four other companies).  Being in the Leaders portion of a Gartner Magic Quadrant can be screening criteria for companies.  Gartner takes great care in a document explaining how to interpret a  Magic Quadrant. They state  that companies whose products are  in the Challenger, Visionary or Niche sections  of the quadrant may be the best solution for your needs.  Nonetheless, a common sales presentation line is, “And they’re in the Leaders portion of the Gartner Magic Quadrant for ‘fill in the blank’”.

In the OPSWAT June” Industry Market Share Analysis Report”, Symantec is fourth in global  market share, behind Avast, Microsoft,  and ESET. Symantec has 10.3% of the market. They are just ahead of AVG Technologies and Avira.  In North American, Symantec is  second behind Microsoft with 15.1% of the market.

Both McAfee (until their acquisition by Intel a couple of years ago) and Symantec have been aggressive in making acquisitions in the last decade.  Possible reasons -  trying to be CA West, expanding product portfolio, plugging gaps in the portfolio,  needing to keep the stock price up, revenue of existing core products stagnant, “buy” decision winning out over “make” decision.  Interestingly enough PGP (a leader in encryption technology), and currently owned by Symantec, was once owned by McAfee.   Buying for the sake of buying doesn't cut it. Enterprise customers and analysts want some visibility into the rationale and roadmap for these.

Depending on the pundit, Symantec should keep leading storage management vendor Veritas.  Alternatively, Symantec should sell Veritas.  If the management team hasn’t figured out how to best integrate   Veritas into the product mix after eight years, spin the company off.  Sell it another company or see if an equity firm like Thoma Bravo is interested.  Thoma Bravo purchased Secure Web Gateway/WAN company Blue Coat Systems and recently sold SonicWall to Dell for about $1.2 billion.   

The management team/existing culture may be one that has lost its mojo.  When their streak of winning VB100 awards was broken a couple of years ago,   the company stopped being tested by Virus Bulletin .  With testing organization AV-comparatives, you can’t choose (cherry pick) which tests to participate in .  So, Symantec is not one of the twenty two companies included in 2012 AV-Comparatives testing.  This doesn’t benefit Symantec’s customers or their channel partners.  Symantec still participates in AV-test testing and scored 15 out of 18 in March/April certification testing

Several  years ago, a Symantec marketing  employee chided  companies utilizing the freemium model.  He  mustn’t have realized that Symantec owns PC Tools, another freemium company.  Unfortunately, PC Tools received only one star in AV-comparatives’ most recent Retrospective/Proactive Test (July 2012). 

Some Thoughts
  • More risk taking.  Reward employees and business units who do that.  Make sure that there are employees who know how to and are comfortable doing this. Bring aboard employees who can do this.
  • More  cloud.  Symantec was slow to the game.  Competitor Trend Micro was early. As was Panda. The channel is becoming more comfortable offering cloud and SaaS based solutions. 
  • Further embrace   VM technology.  The fact that Symantec will be at VMWorld in San Francisco in August and in Barcelona in October are good things. Symantec currently offers  a number of VM solutions. 
  • Embrace BYOD - Bring Your Own Device is the acronym du jour.  While Symantec offers mobile and tablet security solutions under both the Norton and Symantec brands, they need to be more visible in promoting these.  BTW – “Protect your stuff” is an interesting tag line in the Norton line but…
  • Pretend you're not one of the 800 pound gorillas. For years, Silicon Valley commuters driving north on 101, would see a Symantec sign as they drove through Santa Clara. If they raised their eyes a little. They'd see that this was virtually next door to McAfee headquarters.  A nice friendly competitive poke. 

A strategy of placing a huge number of yellow boxes in brick office supply stores no longer suffices.  Both Symantec and McAfee   have come to this conclusion in the last couple of years.  Instead of huge, the number is still  “a lot”.  Webroot was using this strategy for a while at Best Buy when they were the “recommended choice” of the Geek Squad (unless you asked them off the record!). Their box count is down dramatically.
From a July 25 article in CRN, "The security space is evolving so rapidly that companies that stick with old ways of doing business are going to lose their relevance," said one East Coast channel partner on condition of anonymity. "Symantec has been skating on its reputation for a long time, and that has cost them big time. Maybe this change will help them get their house in order."

From an irreverent perspective, it may be time for Symantec to  tone down the yellow color.  “Men usually perceive yellow as a very lighthearted, 'childish' color, so it is not recommended to use yellow when selling prestigious, expensive products to men – nobody will buy a yellow business suit or a yellow Mercedes.”

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Symantec Replaces CEO Veteran Enrique Salem

It has to be a sad day when you lose your CEO title and the company stock has its biggest gain since  July 2001,   17%.  Symantec has replaced Enrique Salem with board chair Steve Bennett.  Symantec stock has been dropping steadily from a 52 week high of $19.81 to a recent low of $13.06.   Revenues and profits for the most recent quarter failed to meet analysts’ estimates.

 "While progress has been made over the last three years in many areas, it was the board's judgment that it was in the best interests of Symantec to make a change in the CEO." said Steve Bennett, chairman, president, and CEO

Salem had a  19-year tenure at Symantec, in a variety of roles. 


Monday, July 23, 2012

Avast Thursday Initial Public Offering Postponed

 From the Original Post - Updates at End of Blog

Antivirus software company Avast will have their Initial Public Offering (IPO) Thursday.  The ticker symbol will be AVST. The roadshow is about at an end! Palo Alto Networks' successful IPO Friday suggests that the IPO  market may be open again.

Avast plans to offer 9 million shares at between $9 and $11 each with this IPO. The price  may be tweaked on Wednesday. The lead underwriters for the IPO are UBS Investment Bank, Deutsche Bank Securities and Jefferies & Co.  Avast uses the freemium strategy for their antivirus software. Avast  develops anti-virus software, specializing in a free version of its product used by consumers. They then offer  upgrades that can be purchased.  Avast is number one in OPSWAT’s most recent world wide industry market share analysis for antivirus software.
James Krapfel of Morningstar said Avast is going public at a time when “the company’s software is installed on 20% of the worldwide consumer and small business PCs.” Krapfel called Avast “a higher quality peer” to rival AVG Technologies AVG  with sales growing at twice AVG’s annual rate.
Below is a summary of some of their financial data, revenue, income, etc. Click on it to enlarge.

Avast’s freemium competitors include Avira, AVG Technologies, PC Tools, and Panda.  Microsoft offers a free version of antivirus but no paid versions.  The Avast current installed base in about 159 million. They most recently had 1.72 million downloads on   last week.  
 July 29 updates - Avast was the most popular free  antivirus download on CNET  for the week ending July 29, with 1.69 million downloads.


 July 30 update - Avast was the most downloaded free AV product on for the week ending July 29 with 1.69 million downloads.

July 25 update - Avast Software  postponed its IPO on Wednesday evening, citing poor conditions. 

AVG Technologies executive JR Smith told  the Financial Times on Thursday that the  IPO situation for CEE tech companies is likely to get worse before it gets any better. “We are a European software company and we are pretty close to what is going on here, and start-ups and those companies looking for additional capital investment will find it tougher for sure over the next 12 to 18 months.”
The Avast  S-1 filed with the SEC   can be viewed at the link below.   Informative reading.

For more information, go to


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Virus Bulletin RAP Averages Quadrant, December 2011 through June 2012

Virus Bulletin has released their latest RAP Averages Quadrant, representing December 2011 through June 2012.  The top 10 (some eyeballing necessary):
  1. Coranti
  2. Coranti Cora
  3. Auslogics
  4. TrustPort
  5. G Data
  6. BullGuard
  7. Avira Pro
  8. ESTSoft
  9. Tencent
  10. Avira Free
The top three were in a clear cluster by themselves with the next seven in a separate cluster. 

From the October 2011 through April 2012 report; some eyeballing necessary):
  1. Coranti
  2. Lavasoft
  3. Auslogics
  4. G Data
  5. BitDefender
  6. ESTSoft (?)  (Could be Emisoft)
  7. TrustPort
  8. Avira Free
  9. Avira Pro
  10. Kaspersky ES
 All of the top 10 on the latest RAP Averages Quadrant  achieved greater than 90% on Reactive Detection and   80% Proactive Detection.  This was down a bit on the Proactive Detection side from the previous report.   

Neither Symantec nor Trend Micro are present on this RAP Averages Quadrant.  PC Tools, owned by Symantec, is.  Iolo had the worst Reactive Detection at around 55%.  UnThreat the worst Proactive Detection, at around 40%.

The relative performance of vendors can best be viewed by looking at the RAP Averages Quadrant chart at

Subscribers to Virus Bulletin's publications have access to more details on the results.

RAP Averages Quadrant

This test measures products' detection rates across four distinct sets of malware samples.  The first three test sets comprise malware first seen in each of the three weeks prior to product submission.  These measure how quickly product developers and labs react to the steady flood of new malware emerging every day across the world.  A fourth test set consists of malware samples first seen in the week after product submission.

About Virus Bulletin

Virus Bulletin started in 1989 as a magazine dedicated to providing PC users with a regular source of intelligence about computer malware - its prevention, detection, and removal.  In addition, how to recover programs and data following an attack.

Virus Bulletin VB100 Awards – June 2012

Virus Bulletin has released their latest VB100 awards results for June.  Just under forty participants were tested.   The test was done on Windows Server 2008.  The previous test was done on Windows XP.   

There were only a handful   of companies whose tested product failed to receive a VB100 award, AVG Technologies, Bkis, Commtouch, and TrustPort.  

A summary of the results is  at the link below.  You can   buy the full test results or subscribe to Virus Bulletin for the full results, as well. 

Results from this should be looked at in conjunction with tests from other test groups such as  and .  Also,   it’s not how the company has performed on the VB100 test over years.  It’s only the last couple of years that are relevant.

VB100 Test Methodology

The purpose of the VB100 comparative is to provide insight into the relative performance of the solutions taking part in the tests, covering as wide a range of areas as possible within the limitations of time and available resources.  More details are available at

UK based Virus Bulletin   started in 1989.  The organization provides PC users with a regular source of intelligence about computer viruses, their prevention, detection, and removal, and how to recover programs and data following an attack.  The Virus Bulletin website is at