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H&R Block Partners with F5 Networks to Ensure the Most Positive and Efficient Online Experience During the Demanding Tax Season

F5 solution ensures that H&R Block's millions of customers have reliable, speedy and secure access to online tax preparation and services

F5 Networks, Inc. (NASDAQ: FFIV), the leading provider of Internet Traffic and Content Management (iTCM) products, today announced that H&R Block (NYSE: HRB) has deployed F5's solution to optimize system availability, performance and security for its millions of clients preparing and filing their taxes online. During the 2001 tax season, millions of taxpayers accessed H&R Block for do-it-yourself online tax preparation (OTP). H&R Block is the fourth-largest retail network in the world, offering a variety of ways to prepare taxes, including online, through its 10,400+ retail locations nationwide, and using H&R Block TaxCut software.

H&R Block began deploying the F5 solution over a year ago to enhance its Web site's availability through the use of F5's BIG-IP® product. The F5 solution also manages SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption/decryption, which increases site performance, scales SSL transactions, and lowers administrative overhead costs. In addition to ensuring reliable, secure and scalable user access to H&R Block's online tax products and services, the F5 solution was deployed to provide employees, partners and vendors with the same level of dependability, performance and security for accessing complex internal applications on the company's intranet.

"This was an important year for establishing H&R Block's distinct online services," said Aaron Horvath, director of online products at H&R Block. "A critical part of our strategy has been integrating online capabilities with our retail tax office network, thereby combining the convenience of the Internet with personalized service from a knowledgeable tax professional. It's important that our online services match the high quality of service that we deliver in our tax offices. Our partnership with F5 Networks helps us do that by helping to ensure that customers have the most positive and productive user experience at H&R Block website, and continue to leverage our site as a reliable, 24/7, financial services resource."

H&R Block, which has invested significantly to enhance its technology and fortify its network infrastructure, has set the standard for speed, efficiency and an outstanding customer experience. Block's online tax preparation process prompts users with simple questions, then intuitively selects, provides and completes the forms that taxpayers need. Users have easy access to Block-certified tax professionals and are able to e-file their return directly to the IRS at no extra charge.

"H&R Block has helped redefine its industry by deploying an efficient operation and offering diversified services, while delivering high value to its customers," said Dan Matte, vice-president of product management and marketing at F5 Networks. "F5 is proud to be a technology partner with H&R Block; helping them to achieve their financial objectives by making sure their customers and internal users have reliable and secure access to these mission critical applications."

About H&R Block

H&R Block Inc. is a diversified company with subsidiaries providing a wide range of financial products and services. In 2001, H&R Block served 19.2 million taxpayers - more than any tax or accounting firm - through its more than 10,400 offices located in the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom. H&R Block served another 2.3 million tax clients through its award-winning TaxCut® software program and through its online tax preparation services. Investment services and securities products are offered through H&R Block Financial Advisors Inc., member NYSE, SIPC. H&R Block Inc. is not a registered broker-dealer. H&R Block Mortgage Corporation and Option One Mortgage Corporation offer a wide range of home mortgage products. RSM McGladrey Inc. is a national accounting, tax and consulting firm with more than 100 offices nationwide, as well as an affiliation with 550 offices in 75 countries as the U.S. member of RSM International. Quarterly results and other information are available on the company's Web site.

About F5 Networks

F5 Networks is the leader in Internet Traffic and Content Management (iTCM). Our award winning integrated suite of high-performance best of breed products provides an end-to-end solution for automatically and intelligently managing Internet content and traffic - globally. Our products remove bandwidth congestion and optimize the availability and speed of mission-critical Internet servers and applications, including web publishing, content delivery, e-commerce, caching, firewalls and more. F5 Networks helps companies avoid the risk of being burdened with ill-performing networks that do not meet end user expectations, while enabling network administrators to better control and predict the performance of their e-Business infrastructure. Our products are widely deployed in large enterprises, the top service providers, financial institutions, government agencies, healthcare, and portals throughout the world. The company is headquartered in Seattle, Washington, and has offices throughout North America, Europe and Asia Pacific. F5 Networks is located on the web at

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This press release may contain forward looking statements relating to future events or future financial performance that involve risks and uncertainties. Such statements can be identified by terminology such as "may," "will," "should," "expects," "plans," "anticipates," "believes," "estimates," "predicts," "potential," or "continue," or the negative of such terms or comparable terms. These statements are only predictions and actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in these statements based upon a number of factors including those identified in the company's filings with the SEC.