Download virus updates to multiple clients easily

When Norton AntiVirus (NAV) 4.0 for Windows NT Servers arrived at the Windows NT Magazine Lab, I thought, "Didn't we already review this product?" After doing some research, I discovered that the Lab had reviewed the workstation version of NAV 4.0 (see Jonathan Chau, "Workstation Virus Scanning Software," November 1997). I decided to see whether any differences existed between the workstation and server editions of the product.

NAV 4.0 for NT Servers ships on one CD-ROM that includes hypertext and video Help files and setup files for Intel and Alpha systems. This new version lets you push the software installation from a central server to NT servers and workstations, as well as to Windows 95, Windows 3.1, and DOS-based systems. The server version contains the same user interface and options as the workstation version the Lab reviewed.

Remote-Management and Installation Tools
Remote-management and installation tools that help alleviate the cumbersome distribution and update process across networks are welcome additions to NAV 4.0 for NT Servers. The software has four modules—Network Distribution Tools, LiveUpdate Administration Utility (LUADMIN), Norton Software Distribution Utility (NSDU), and BackOffice Program Definition Files (PDFs)—for networks that Microsoft's Systems Management Server (SMS) controls.

My Test System
My test system included a 166MHz MMX Pentium processor with 64MB of RAM and 3.1GB of hard disk space. I installed NT Server 4.0 and Service Pack 3 (SP3) on the system, which I configured as a Primary Domain Controller (PDC). The other two 166MHz Pentium-based systems had 64MB of RAM and 1.6GB of hard disk space. I installed NT Workstation 4.0 and SP3 on each.

I installed the NAV software on my PDC first. A wizard guides you through the simple process.

The NSDU uses native NT services to install configuration files, scanning schedules and virus updates to local and remote systems. I copied the Intel-based NT Server and NT Workstation files to the system's hard disk and started the NSDU program. I clicked NAV Workstation from the Select Product menu, named the job, and clicked Install Software. Next, I clicked Add, selected the two test workstations from the domain list, and clicked OK. I highlighted the job and clicked Start Job on the Job menu. You can see the status of jobs in the lower panel of the NSDU main window, as Screen 1 shows. I installed the software on the two workstations in about 4 minutes. Using the same process, I installed updated virus definitions from Symantec's Web site to the newly installed servers.

LiveUpdate Technology
LiveUpdate is the patented technology that lets a system with an installed Symantec product download program and virus-definition updates automatically. Over the years, two problems related to keeping network software up to date have arisen at many corporate sites. First, to reduce external traffic, systems administrators require users to download program and virus-definition updates from an internal site. Second, LiveUpdate establishes an FTP connection to a Symantec server, which requires some companies to modify system firewalls. Symantec developed LUADMIN to address these concerns. When you set up an intranet FTP server to handle all user requests for LiveUpdates, you reduce external traffic and increase security.

When I opened LUADMIN from the Start menu, I had four options: Product Updates, Host Editor, Update, and Custom. I clicked Host Editor, Open, and then the sample.hst file to create a custom host file that would point clients to the internal server.

You can choose a modem, FTP server, or LAN to distribute files. I chose the LAN, gave the file a description, and saved the file as liveupdt.hst. You must copy the file to each client that will use LiveUpdate. Symantec recommends that you modify the logon scripts to automatically perform the file copy as each user logs on. The custom file replaces the file originally installed on the software. I accepted Symantec's recommendation and clicked Virus Definitions, Retrieve in the Product Updates menu to retrieve the update package.

When users log on to the network, the liveupdt.hst file replaces the file originally installed on the system. When the user clicks LiveUpdate, the software directs the user to the internal LAN update server to retrieve the updates. All systems are kept up-to-date and safe from virus attacks.

NAV 4.0 for NT Servers includes a new technology called LiveUpdate Email. This technology lets a network administrator send a LiveUpdate trigger file attached to an email message to a list of users. When a recipient reads the message, that user can launch the LiveUpdate trigger file from within the email application and automatically obtain new virus definitions. You can copy the trigger file from the CD-ROM.

NAV 4.0 for NT Servers includes a flexible, centralized alert system that keeps administrators up-to-date through alerts from other workstations and servers running NAV products. You can forward alerts through Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP), Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP), Relay (remote procedure call--RPC), and network broadcasts. Scanning and scheduling features in this version of the software are the same as the scanning and scheduling features in the workstation version.

Weigh the Pros and Cons
NAV 4.0 for NT Servers has a few drawbacks. For example, users running NT servers must pay a high premium to install the software on their systems. In addition, the configuration process for LiveUpdate and NSDU could be more administrator-friendly: No upgrade policy exists for administrators who have already purchased another version of the software. The cost of the NAV 4.0 for NT Servers is an obstacle when you consider that the server edition is 10 times as expensive as the standalone edition and includes only one server license and 10 workstation licenses. Ultimately, you must determine whether the additional administration tools are worth the extra expense.

Norton AntiVirus 4.0 for Windows NT Servers
Contact: Symantec * 541-334-6054 or 800-441-7234
Web: http//:www.symantec.com
Price: Starts at $499.95
System Requirements: Symantec * 541-334-6054 or 800-441-7234, 486 processor or better, or Alpha processor, Windows NT Server 3.51 or later, 16MB of RAM, 16MB of hard disk space (24MB for administration utilities)