Patent #6,851,057 received by Symantec, known as "data driven detection of viruses", will apparently significantly improve the company's anti-virus products. Seemingly, this new technology can scan files with less effort and more detail.
The technology claims to be able to detect self-mutating viruses, spyware, and other malware based on their code rather than a specific signature. Furthermore, files are scanned in specific areas as opposed to the whole file, vastly improving performance.
Over the years, viruses, worms and spyware have evolved considerably, making detection by traditional antivirus software increasingly difficult and time-consuming. This invention fundamentally reduces the complexity of detecting malicious software and shortens the response time needed to address new threats without the need for new product updates or patches.