The bad news of viruses and worms is good news for software developers in southwestern Ontario.

The demand for security solutions has driven McAfee Canada to find more space for its Waterloo, Ont. consumer products software research and development division. The growing staff, which now numbers

50, and will increase to 60 by the end of this month or early November.

“”The resource plan called for significant growth,”” Mark McArdle, vice-president of McAfee Canada’s consumer product division, said in explaining the recent move.

The division is responsible for Personal Firewall Plus, McAfee AntiSpyware and Spamkiller products.

“”We are aggressively hiring now,”” he said, looking for software developers – especially user interface developers and networking developers – and software quality assurance analysts.

Generally he wants people with “”intermediate and above”” (meaning at least five years) of experience. Pay is “”negotiable based on skill and capabilities.””

McArdle opened the office in 2000 with a staff of four.

A graduate of the University of Waterloo, he was working for McAfee in California in charge of a new business unit when it needed to hire research and development staff.

“”The budget was not going to be sufficient if I applied it to California hiring, so I began looking at alternatives,”” he recalled. “”Being familiar with the Waterloo area – having grown up in Stratford and went to school at UW – I did some research, put together some numbers and proposed it to the executive team”” to expand into this country.

“”It has been a consistent high performer,”” he said of the unit.

And, he acknowledged, the division’s future will likely stay the same. “”The [intrusion] problem is ever-growing.””

Asked if Microsoft’s acquisition of a Romanian antivirus software company a year ago gives him nightmares that the giant might move into McAfee’s territory, he replied that “”working in the antivirus business by definition gives you sleepless nights. We’re obviously watching them very closely.””

But, he added, McAfee also worked closely with Microsoft on Windows XP Service Pack 2. Still, while it has beefed up WinXP’s firewall it doesn’t have all the functionality of McAfee’s product.

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