Imagine what life would be like if your product were never finished, if your work were never done, if your market shifted 30 times a day. The computer-virus hunters at Symantec Corp. don’t have to imagine. “That’s the reality of their daily work life. At the company’s response lab in Santa Monica, California, described as the “dirtiest of all our networks at Symantec. “ Software analysts collect viruses and other suspicious cod and try to figure out how they work so the company can provide security updates to its customers. There’s even a hazardous materials box by the door to the lab, marked DANGER, where they put all the discs, tapes, and hard drives with the nasty viruses that need to be completely disposed of. Symantec’s situations may seem unique, but the company, which makes content and network security software for both consumers and businesses, reflects the realities facing many organizations today: quickly shifting customer expectations and continuously emerging global competitors that have drastically shortened product life cycles. Managing talented people in such an environment can be quite challenging as well. Vincent Weafer, a native of Ireland, has been the leader of Symantec’s virus hunting team since 1999. Back then, he said “there were less than two dozen people, and . . . nothing really happened. We’d see may be five new viruses a day, and they would spread in a matter of months, not minutes. “Now, Symantec’s virus hunter around the words deals with some 20,000 virus samples each month, not all of which are unique, stand-alone viruses. To make the hunter’s jobs even more interesting, computer attacks are increasingly being spread by criminals wanting to steal information, whether corporate data or personal user account information that can be used in fraud. Dealing with these critical and time-sensitive issues requires special talents. The response center team is a diverse group whose members weren’t easy to find. Said...
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