McAfee acquisition was ‘best thing’ to happen to Symantec, says CEO

Symantec CEO Enrique Salem believes Intel’s acquisition of McAfee has resulted in its security rival losing focus and was, "the best thing that could have happened" to his firm.

Speaking to press at the company’s Vision conference in Barcelona, Salem said the acquisition has left Symantec as the clear leader in the field.

"When they bought McAfee they bought something that’s a $2bn business, then defocused them. Their CEO is no longer running the company and their CTO left a few weeks ago," he said.

McAfee CEO David DeWalt stood down as boss recently but agreed to remain as a non-employee member of the McAfee board of directors.

"It’s almost the best thing that could have happened to Symantec because it took a focused competitor and put it inside a company that has to focus on building silicon that can compete with what Apple and ARM are doing," Salem continued. "That’s more important to them then competing with Symantec."

He added that Symantec is pushing ahead with its own acquisition strategy and will be focusing on deals in the $750m to $1.25bn range in the areas of mobility, cloud and virtualisation.

Salem also told CBR the company is not ready to give up on signature-based detection just yet, despite admitting that it is no longer adequate to fight today’s security threats.

He said that traditional antivirus that uses signature-based detection was not quick enough when it comes to tackling new threats as they emerge. Security companies have to identify malicious code, analyse it and then update their signature database to deal with it, which can be a slow process.

Salem said his company would move towards a reputation-based approach, but will not be abandoning the traditional signature-based method just yet. "We can’t move away from it completely," he told CBR. "There are certain areas where that approach works really well, such as mass mailing worms, where the signature approach is very efficient."

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