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Hamlet for the masses

SEP 11.0 "Hamlet" goes way beyond basic antivirus protection; release is loaded with defenses against zero-day attacks, rootkits, botnets and identity theft.

Next week, Symantec's vaunted "Hamlet" project will come to fruition when it will officially begin shipping its Symantec Endpoint Protection (SEP) 11.0. Just what's so special about this version of client security? A couple of things. First off, SEP goes way beyond basic antivirus protection; this release is loaded with defenses against zero-day attacks, rootkits, botnets and identity theft. SEP provides device and application controls so large corporations can "lock down" employee PCs to prevent malicious code attacks or data leakage. Finally, SEP also instruments clients for Network Access Control (NAC).

SEP's features come from a combination of the Symantec mothership and its acquisitions, Whole Security and Sygate. With this release, Symantec is aggregating these systems into a single desktop agent. Security and desktop operations managers should be pleased with this development as it lets them manage a bunch of stuff through one console.

Symantec's hope is that SEP 11.0 is a "game changer" in desktop security but it will go to market with an aggressive price point for existing Symantec customers--free. Symantec customers who currently use Symantec AntiVirus Corporate Edition, Symantec Client Security, Confidence Online for Corporate Security (aka Whole Security), or Symantec Sygate Enterprise Protection are eligible for a free upgrade to SEP 11.0.

Why the generosity? It certainly simplifies Symantec's own internal operations to replace four products with one, but Symantec also wants to get SEP 11.0 in the hands of existing customers quickly and easily--sort of the old "seed and harvest" strategy.

Personally, I think Symantec is on the right track. Now that desktop security requirements go beyond antivirus, vendors are lining up to steal market share from one another. Symantec's entitlement giveaway makes this sales tactic moot. What's more, Symantec is setting itself up for the next major phase in desktop security software when threat protection merges with configuration management and operations. Symantec is already working on enhancing SEP with desktop management goodies it got from Altiris.

Complacency is the enemy of market leadership. SEP 11.0 demonstrates that Symantec has not fallen into this trap. If only one Danish prince had been this decisive.