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Symantec Unveils Consumer Identity Strategy

The company hopes to tap into the projected $1.1 billion business in online consumer authentication through 2011.

Symantec is counting on e-shoppers' fears to lift its sagging bottom line. At the Demo 07 conference last week, it showed a new consumer identity software that is the centerpiece of its Security 2.0 initiative, its effort to move well past its antivirus software roots.

The program will be called the Norton Identity Client and is the first step in a 12- to 24-month project to tie together services and software, consumers and businesses. Symantec likened the software to the e-retailing world's version of a driver's license, establishing the buyer's identity to the seller. Shoppers will get tools such as site reputation information and the ability to generate one-time e-mail addresses when logging on to suspicious Web sites, to protect a person's real e-mail address. It plans to support Microsoft's CardSpace identity storage system and OpenID, an open source identity framework.

Symantec sees a $1.1 billion business in online consumer authentication through 2011, selling to consumers and business. "Identity is a two-sided problem," Symantec software architect Brian Hernacki says.

The company needs the lift. Symantec last week posted fiscal third-quarter earnings of $248 million, down from $282 million the year before, on revenue that grew 25% to $2.5 billion. In response, Symantec plans to slash $200 million in costs, including some jobs.

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