Storm in a teacup: Melissa fades with no lasting antivirus sales

Storm in a teacup: Melissa fades with no lasting antivirus sales

With antivirus software vendors assuring the channel to gear up for a potential windfall created by the high-profile "Melissa" virus scare, the aftermath is yet to leave a lasting impression on the bottom line, retailers claim.

Hoping to rev up sales towards the end of last week, Sebastian Ferrari, Harvey Norman Auburn Superstore manager, claims the increase in antivirus software sales, if any, was marginal. "Nothing we can measure incrementally, at least," he said.

At odds to this is Trevor Iverach, Computer Associates Vet technical support manager, who claims the antivirus vendor received a significant boost in direct sales as a result of the Melissa virus, with CA recording a record month.

Forecasting the minimal effect Melissa would have on the channel, Stuart Nicholas, managing director of Pin 6 Technologies and Australian distributor of Avast! antivirus software in Hobart, claims the early warning received about the virus offset major potential difficulties.

Nicholas says that while Melissa stirred up interest in virus protection it's likely that it would take "another incident following Melissa" before sales increased significantly.

Terry Sullivan, channel sales and marketing manager for antivirus software vendor Symantec, was tipping retailers should be looking for a big rush on antivirus products over the Easter long weekend, which is traditionally a good weekend for retail anyway.

Alleged Melissa virus creator David Smith of New Jersey was apprehended in the US last week.

Melissa in Australia

In one of the first reported incidents of the Melissa virus in Australia, the South Australian Government contracted the virus two weeks ago.

Roslyn Lock, marketing officer for IT services company Sanderson Group in Adelaide, says their customer, the SA Government, informed them that they were affected by the virus and to be careful. "We deal with them via e-mail and would therefore be on the Government's address books."

Trevor Wynne, team leader for the SA Government's electronic messaging service, says they started receiving the virus around 4pm on Monday, April 29 and subsequently undertook quarantine precautions shutting down all outgoing e-mail services. "At 4pm we made the decision that it was close enough to the end of business hours, so the overall effect would be minimal," he said.

Wynne claims appropriate fixes were obtained and the team set about ensuring agency desktops were virus-free from 9am the following day, with mopping up continuing until midday. He dismissed claims the SA Government's e-mail network was crippled for extensive periods of time.

"Any security problem has to address people," says Wynne, regarding other possible strains of the virus. "We have to make sure users are aware of the potential problems in receiving things over the Net. I've spent more time explaining the problems to people than it took to fix it."

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