Symantec Adding Defenses, Not Ditching Endpoint Security
Antivirus "is dead" and not profitable, the company said. Yet Symantec is not ditching its endpoint-security strategy but rather adding on new layers.Symantec, the largest seller of endpoint-security software--commonly referred to as antivirus software—grabbed the media spotlight May 5, when an executive told The Wall Street Journal that antivirus "is dead." Yet the statement is not a repudiation of the technology, as many media outlets have reported, but an acknowledgment that antivirus software is not sufficient for security, a Symantec representative told eWEEK. Modern anti-malware software is no longer just "antivirus" but software that relies on a several defensive layers, including behavioral and intrusion-detection measures, to protect the endpoint, said Piero DePaoli, senior director of product marketing at Symantec. "Antivirus is great for known threats, but you really need those proactive technologies," he told eWEEK. "You need both proactive and reactive together." Symantec's take on the fate of antivirus is not new. Many security professionals have criticized the perceived ineffectiveness of antivirus. The performance of basic antivirus scanners, as measured by the number of scanners that detect a particular malware variant in VirusTotal, is frequently poor, especially for targeted attacks. Yet much of the criticism of antivirus technology does not take into account its evolution into a multi-layered defense of the endpoint and, perhaps, unfairly lays the blame for a breach solely at the last layer of defense.
Moreover, software that detects and blocks malicious code based on signatures has become a commodity and is no longer profitable, said DePaoli. Many free options exist for consumers or companies that need to comply with industry regulations, such as the Payment Card Industry's Data Security Standard. Symantec, McAfee and other security firms often differentiated their endpoint-security products from barebones antivirus, but have still been criticized for the attacks that continue to get by their products.