Symantec moves to boost endpoint security

Symantec officials hope to deliver a stronger suite of endpoint security solutions by acquiring Sygate Technologies, a provider of endpoint compliance solutions. They announced their acquisition plans earlier this month.

Endpoint security technology ensures that all devices connected to a network — servers, mobile devices, and desktop and laptop PCs — have appropriate security solutions, correct configurations and up-to-date patches.

Sygate's Universal Network Access Control technology will complement Symantec's endpoint tools to create a holistic product suite that addresses the security, compliance and remediation requirements of large enterprises, Symantec officials said. The acquisition is expected to close shortly after receiving customary regulatory approvals.

Symantec's move shows that company officials are taking seriously their competitors' efforts to strengthen endpoint security, such as Cisco Systems' Network Admission Control (NAC) initiative, said Pete Lindstrom, director of research at Spire Security, a consulting firm.

To protect against cyberthreats, NAC uses a network's infrastructure to enforce endpoint security policies on all devices seeking access to network resources. Cisco shares its network technology with approved program participants, such as independent software developers.

But the NAC initiative is still in development, while Sygate already has a strong link between networks and their endpoints, Lindstrom said.

"Symantec didn't have a solution to tie the two together," he said.

Sygate technology can interrogate an endpoint system that attempts to access the network even if there is no agent software on the device, Lindstrom said. The company offers ActiveX-based agent software that can be downloaded to quickly scan a device, which is useful for enterprises with large global networks, Lindstrom added.

Sygate On-Demand Agent provides a small, lightweight agent that can be downloaded using a secure Web connection. The agent ensures that endpoints that are not company-owned are managed in compliance with corporate security policies and that the transaction data itself is secure.

"It is critical to have an endpoint compliance solution that will allow companies to leverage their existing IT infrastructure to control the myriad devices connecting to the network," said Enrique Salem, Symantec's senior vice president of security products and solutions, in a statement.

"Sygate provides the first universal network access control system designed to protect the entire enterprise network — from mobile devices to servers to unmanaged devices," Salem said. "The fact that their technology is built on industry standards means that companies don't have to implement expensive infrastructure changes to deploy this solution."

Some overlap exists between the two companies in the area of host-based intrusion protection, which might confuse some users in the short term, Lindstrom said. However, Sygate offers added protection against insider threats, such as an employee leaving a company and copying information to a USB key, he added.

After the companies close the deal, Symantec AntiVirus and Symantec Client Security users can license and deploy Sygate's Network Access Control agent to provide endpoint compliance on top of the protection they already receive. Symantec will integrate its remediation capabilities, including LiveUpdate and LiveState Patch Manager, and data availability solutions into a more comprehensive endpoint compliance solution, Symantec officials said.

Sygate recently announced Sygate Enterprise Protection (SEP) 5.0, which provides broad protection and control in a single agent and under simplified management. Symantec expects to integrate those technologies with its existing endpoint protection products. Until that integration occurs, Symantec will offer SEP 5.0 alongside its other endpoint security solutions.

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