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Safe Surfing

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Even though Symantec with its online security solutions brand, Norton, has been present in the Indian market for a number of years now, it is only this year (FY 2012-13) that the software security major is aggressively focusing on reaping high growth returns from India, harnessing the "opportunity that 1.2 billion (potential consumers) possibly provide." And it is the twin phenomena — a quantum leap in mobile internet (m-commerce) usage and a steep rise in the number of cyber crimes in India —  which is fuelling this ambition.

Incidentally, instances of cyber crime in India are substantially higher than its global counterparts.  In fact, the Norton Crime Report 2011 documents that the country lost a whopping Rs 34,110 crore last year and 80 per cent of internet users were affected by it. While 60 per cent were victims of viruses and malware attacks, 20 per cent became the targets of online scams and 19 per cent suffered due to phishing.

However, "the sets of cyber crimes that Indians fall prey to are also fortunately the most preventable, says Effendy Ibrahim, Norton Internet Safety Advocate and Director, Asia, Symantec. Globally, Symantec claims to have blocked 5 billion internet security threats last year; which translates into about 17 threats per second. "In the past people would say if you go to a website and don't download anything you're safe. That is not true today, there could be reputed sites where as soon as you enter a malware starts to download," informs Ibrahim.

 In India, 1 in 4 malware attacks are bot infections: they comprise malware that lodge themselves in a PC and do nothing till they receive a command from their master to either send back data or use the computing power of the machine to send out spam, for instance. This menace is fast engulfing Indian tier 2 cities as well.  Today cyber criminals are not sending viruses just to infect machines; they instruct printers to keep on printing, target personal information, logins, passwords and also selectively erase data.

All factors taken into account, Symantec considers the need to invest in India is imminent. At present, the company has more than 3,500 employees across the country. They have a security response — one of the 11 around the world — in Pune (set up in 2006). In addition, the company has security operation centres in Chennai and R&D centres in Pune, Chennai, and Bengaluru. Ibrahim quotes that 35 per cent of Symantec's R&D comes from India and Pune is their biggest innovation centre. Thirteen per cent of the annual revenue is earmarked for research.

With their infrastructure in place, the company aims to double the number of consumers and triple the numbers of channel partners (currently 155) to improve their distribution network by also tying up with major mobile product distributors across. Apart from large format retail stores, such as Tata Croma, Symantec has, over the last few months established partnerships with e-tailers such as and others.

Effendy Ibrahim

"Currently we are in talks with a number of government organisations to encourage their employees to use Norton products," states Ibrahim while refraining to divulge the names of companies in question. A multi-city road show to 20 top cities in India (distribution centres that need to be explored further) is also on the cards.

With more than 50 per cent people confused or unwilling to invest in online security, the challenge, according to Symantec, is in convincing people to move beyond remedial measures (from cyber crime affliction) and investing in long-term solutions.

Key To Integration
It is estimated that an average Indian spends 30 hours a week using the internet as against the global figure of 24 hours a week. Among them 48 per cent access the internet through their mobiles. The Norton Mobile survey 2012 finds 3 out of 5 Indians susceptible to cybercrime on their cell phones. Yet even as there is an alarming 93 per cent increase in mobile threats, the actual number continues to be dwarfed by other online security breaches. 

Even as ramping up mobile security products is very much the plan, (Norton India survey, February 2012) data has yielded that almost half the population (of respondents) would welcome a simple security solution that they can use across devices and platforms; from Macbooks to Android smartphones and Windows PCs.

"In the current scenario, if you want to protect all your data, you would have to buy a separate security product for each device which is costly and cumbersome. With Norton's multi-device product, a single subscription can protect any type of device. Six months down the line if you choose to replace your Windows PC with an Android tablet, you can move your licence from your PC to the new tablet in a very flexible manner," Ibrahim explains. The product, Norton 360 Everywhere, will be launched in India over the next few months and will cover Windows and Android at the moment. The second phase will include iOS as well and that is likely to happen towards the end of this year. As of now Symantec remains silent about the prince point of this product as well.

Symantec is keen on promoting free software such as Norton Safeware: a software that determines whether or not a website is safe to visit even before it is opened, Norton Security Scan and Norton Power Eraser (for infected computer systems). When it comes to mobile security, Ibrahim is emphatic in mentioning that "our mobile security products are not antivirus software per se, that is only one of the features of our mobile security products."

Mobile security is oriented around anti theft, more photos on mobile than pc, data protection, the ability to lock your phone, wipe data, anti phishing for mobile and privacy features, among others. Norton Mobile Security for Android devices, is available on GooglePlay Store and any of the others Norton mobile software are accessible on Apple and Samsung app stores. One of the new features the company is working on, at present, is recovery of contacts ( from phone memory) in the event of mobile theft. Globally a partner of Samsung, Symantec is now working towards collaborating with major telecom service providers in India.