the virus hunter

Project Description:

case study
organizational strucutre: case application
the virus hunters
“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 worklife. 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 code and try to figure out how they work
so security updates can be provided to the company’s customers. there’s even a hazardous materials box by the door to
the lab marked danger where they put all the disks, tapes, and hard drives with the nasty viruses that need to be
completely disposed of.
symantec’s situation 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. the
launch of the blaster-b worm changed the company’s approach to dealing with viruses. the domino effect of blaster-b
and other viruses spawned by it meant that frontline software analysts were working around the clock for almost two
weeks. the “employee burn-out” potential made the company realize that its virus-hunting team had to be much
deeper talent-wise. now, the response center’s team numbers in the hundreds and managers rotate people from the
front lines, where they’re responsible for responding to new security threats that crop up, into groups where they can
help with new-product development. others write internal research papers. still others are assigned to develop new
tools that will help their colleagues battle the next wave of threats. there’s even an individual who tries to figure out
what makes the virus writers tick—and the day never ends for these virus hunters. when santa monica’s team finishes
its day, colleagues in tokyo take over. when the japanese team finishes its day, it hands off to dublin, who then hands
back to santa monica for the new day. it’s a frenetic, chaotic, challenging work environment that spans the entire globe.
but the security experts realize that despite their team’s best efforts, “they’re losing the battle.” they plan to
add another line of defense and use the power of people to hunt down the cybercriminals by “recruiting victims and
other computer users to help them go on the offensive and track down the hackers.” rowan trollope, senior vice
president for consumer products at symantec, says, “it’s time to stop building burglar alarms to keep people out and go
after the bad guys.” thus, at the introduction of its new norton internet security system, symantec is now asking
customers to opt in to a program that will collect data about attempted computer intrusions and then forward the
information to authorities.
discussion questions
1. how might the nature of what the virus hunters do affect the most appropriate structure for getting work done
efficiently and effectively?
2. in fighting the onslaught of computer viruses, what will be the challenges of managing a team
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