Symantec Rushes To Add Visibility Into XP SP2

Windows XP Service Pack 2

The security vendor is also ironing out several issues related to the ease of deployment of the Symantec update for SP2, particularly when the update is distributed across multiple clients.

"Tamper-resistant" technology inherent in Symantec security products such as firewalls and antivirus gateways prevents the products from being properly monitored by Windows Security Center, a utility in SP2 that keeps track of third-party security tools, said Laura Garcia-Manrique, director of product management at Symantec, Cupertino, Calif.

So Symantec is rushing a patch to market that will make its products visible to Windows Security Center, she said.

"Windows Security Center is not able to read or monitor the status of Symantec security applications. So to facilitate that in a secure way, we are providing an update in the next day or so to make sure our products can be reported [by Windows Security Center]," Garcia-Manrique told CRN Tuesday.

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The Symantec patch could force Symantec customers to delay upgrading their Windows systems with SP2. A support bulletin on Symantec's Web site informed customers that "Symantec encourages its customers to install the product update prior to installing SP2 in order to avoid incorrect reporting from Windows Security Center."

A technical beta-tester of Symantec's products, who already has the Symantec update for the vendor's AntiVirus Corporate Edition 9, complained about having to patch Symantec products to work with what is essentially a very large new patch from Microsoft.

The beta-tester also reported problems with group deployments of the Symantec patch across multiple clients, adding that when Symantec technical support was informed of the problem, "the tech suggested we write a script to deploy it. When [I said] that was not the best solution, I was told it was either that way or go to each machine and do it manually."

The beta-tester added: "The tech did offer me one alternative. He said, 'You can, of course, just leave your systems on SP1.' His comments don't lend themselves to high trust in Symantec when they advise people to not deploy SP2."

Gary Ulaner, group product manager for Symantec, said group deployment of the Symantec patch for SP2 is not a completely effortless task. Besides creating custom script or employing third-party distribution tools such as SMS, HP OpenView, IBM Tivoli or ZenWorks, customers can perform group deployments via Symantec's NT Remote, a distribution mechanism included with Symantec System Center management console. In addition, Ulaner said Symantec's Live Update 2.0, "should work" unless the target is a mixed-client environment.

As of Tuesday, Symantec's beta-tester was unable to make Live Update perform a group deployment of the Symantec patch using the utility in SAV CE 9.

Symantec is offering fully rebuilt versions of its software for certain customers upgrading to SP2, Ulaner said. Symantec recommends that customers running version 2.0 of Client Security or SAV CE 9 use the Symantec patch. Customers running legacy products from Norton/Symantec AV Corporate Edition 7.6 and up (not including 9), and Client Security 1.0 and 1.1 should opt for the rebuilt software, said Ulaner.