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Symantec Compensates Users After Mass Computer Crash
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Symantec Corporation, the world's largest security software provider, announced Monday that, as a gesture of goodwill, it would compensate all Chinese users who suffered as a result of a faulty update to its Norton anti-virus software last month.


Individual users affected will see their copy of Norton's validity period extended by 12 months, and will be provided with free data backup and restoration software, according to a statement from Symantec.


Affected enterprises will be given free access to the Ghost Solution Suite, the statement said.


The move came after an outcry from enraged Chinese users, who not only demanded compensation but also took steps to sue the company. The Symantec statement issued a formal apology to the users for the inconveniences and pledged the goodwill solution.


On May 18, the Chinese version of the Norton software began an updating procedure during which it wrongly identified two critical files of the Microsoft XP operating system as malicious codes and deleted them, causing computers to collapse. As users up and down the country were affected, Symantec scrambled and sent out a fix to the problem 80 minutes later with the issue apparently being resolved inside of four and a half hours, according to the statement.


However, the "goodwill" solution may fail to offset the impact of its faulty update.


"Consumers are concerned about how the losses caused by the Norton software are compensated. Free software only is far from enough," said Lu Benfu, director of the Internet Development Research Center with Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. "The compensation package is better than nothing, but it is not comprehensive," Lu said.


Another contrast has been drawn between Symantec's estimate of those affected, around 50,000, and media reports which stated millions of computers went down due to the faulty update.


Lawyer Liu Shihui is seeking 1,644 yuan (US$213) in reparations for losses caused when his computer crashed. Liu claimed he had to resort to hiring private technicians to repair his computer on May 20 after Norton service agencies declined to help.


A Beijing client has filed a bigger lawsuit seeking compensation of 50,000 yuan (US$6,564.7) for data lost from his laptop.


An online survey by, a leading Chinese portal website, on Monday may really worry Symantec since 74 percent of respondents stated they would be wary of buying the Norton anti-virus software in the future.


Symantec is one of the major players in China's corporate anti-virus market, holding a seven percent market share last year, according to Analysts International, a Beijing-based IT consultancy firm.


(Xinhua News Agency June 26, 2007)

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