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Symantec launches Endpoint Protection 12.1, VDI support

Symantec joins other security firms in supporting VMware vShield Endpoint in a bid to reduce the problem of AV storms.

Symantec has launched the latest version of its endpoint protection suite, announcing integration with VMware's vShield Endpoint and support for the latest Apple and Microsoft operating systems.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based security giant said SEP 12 includes an improved behavioral engine it calls SONAR, which can monitor up to 1,400 endpoint behaviors without impacting performance.

Integration with VMware vShield Endpoint offloads antivirus and antimalware agent processing to a dedicated secure virtual appliance for deployment and monitoring in VMware environments. The goal of VMware vShield Endpoint is to prevent AV storms, when antivirus scans multiple guest virtual machines on a single physical host.  Symantec joins McAfee, Kaspersky Lab, Trend Micro and BitDefender in supporting vShield Endpoint.

Symantec said its improved SONAR behavioral engine helps mitigate the risk of zero-day threats. Previously, SONAR monitored approximately 400 behaviors, looking for out of the ordinary activity. The technology can now support up to 1,400 behaviors.  

Industry analysts say all the antivirus vendors have been adding and updating reputation features in an attempt to bolster the effectiveness of the technology. SONAR was acquired by Symantec in 2005 and initially integrated into its Norton consumer products. The company has tweaked its performance and reduced the power consumption it uses to monitor executables on endpoint machines and detect whether an files are acting suspicious. Other antivirus vendors, including McAfee, Trend Micro, Kaspersky Lab provide similar behavioral or reputation-based monitoring capabilities.  

The latest version also added platform support for Windows 8, Windows Server 2012 and OS X Mountain Lion.

Symantec Endpoint Protection customers that are current with their maintenance agreements are entitled to this upgrade free of charge.  

A number of studies testing antivirus products have found the protection failing to adequately detect new malware. Experts say signature-based antivirus can't keep up with the new malware being produced on a daily basis. A recent study conducted by security firm Imperva in conjunction with researchers at Tel Aviv University, gave high marks to Symantec and McAfee and said ESET, Avast, Kaspersky Lab and Trend Micro also performed well. Most experts point out that no security technology is a panacea. Antivirus provides an additional layer of protection at the endpoint that, at a minimum, can detect known threats fairly well.

~Robert Westervelt   

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