Symantec Releases Upgrades To Protection Center, SEP

Symantec is taking its stated information-centric approach to counter advanced persistent threats with the launch of its integrated security intelligence and central management system, Symantec Protection Center 2.0, and the public beta program release of Symantec Endpoint Protection 12.

The security vendor announced the products Wednesday at its Vision 2011 conference in Las Vegas, Nev.

Symantec Protection Center (SPC) 2.0, currently in private beta, is a free download designed to integrate with existing security infrastructure such as endpoint protection, data loss prevention, SIM and log management tools.

Targeting the midmarket on up, the SPC 2.0 tool uses intelligence to identify emerging threats across an organization's IT environment.

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It then prioritizes critical information and threat level, delivering actionable intelligence in real time, which incorporates features that include single sign-on, data collection and action capabilities, basic event correlation, cross product reporting used to identify malware, e-mail and assets, dashboard notifications, prebuilt workflow templates and third party integration.

And while the product is free of cost to Symantec users, channel partners could charge to interpret that intelligence and help their customers make actionable decisions based on the findings, Symantec executives said.

"The management console which integrates security components we believe should be inherent in security platforms," said Ashish Mohindroo, Symantec senior director of security product marketing. "We do charge for providing intelligence fees, but the way you display that intelligence doesn't price the item. The real value is the intelligence, not necessarily the way you display it."

Meanwhile, other Symantec channel partners say that the security industry seems to be going in the direction of business intelligence and analytics, as more companies are overwhelmed with data and have to conduct some kind of categorization and triage techniques in order to deal with it.

Those data problems, as well as the adoption of intelligence based technology, is also starting to trickle to the midmarket, as well as the enterprise. And partners say that smaller companies affected or vulnerable to malicious threats are attempting to get a more holistic view of their entire risk environment.

"It's a wonderful thing to see that organizations are trying to use the full intelligence in their arsenal rather than the one piece of information," said David Sockol, CEO of Santa Clara, Calif.-based Emagined Security. "Adoption is first happening in the enterprise, but we're starting to also see some of the smaller and medium-sized companies use this type of technology periodically. Everyone is definitely stepping forward in this direction."

In addition, Symantec also officially released the public beta version of Symantec Endpoint Protection (SEP) 12, which it first announced in February at RSA Conference in San Francisco.

The latest version of SEP, which leverages reputation-based security powered by Insight, Symantec's cloud-based reputation technology, was designed to detect and block malware threats earlier and more accurately than its predecessor.

Mohindroo said that SEP 12 was released after three years of enhancements and major improvements that focused on performance, particularly emphasizing faster speed and a light footprint.

The latest version is also equipped to fight attacks on virtual systems, to white list baseline images, to maintain local caches on Insight and to randomize scans and identify and manage virtual clients.

And at least one partner on the beta test team has lauded the new release as noticeably faster and more invisible on the network.

Darrell Bowman, CEO of Tacoma, Wash.-based, said the latest version of SEP was in general faster and more accurate at detecting malware than previous versions, attributed to its reliance on reputation-based technology as opposed to virus definitions.

Thus far, his SMB and midmarket customers seem happy with the Small Business Edition of the SEP 12 product, attributed to its light footprint that doesn't slow the network, he said.

"We've had a great response," he said. "We had clients who told us 'we didn't even know it was there.'"

Full availability for both SPC 2.0 and SEP 12 is slated for later this year.