Symantec launches next-generation anti-virus beta

Symantec will launch the first public beta of its next-generation corporate anti-virus software, Endpoint Protection 11.0, at its annual Symantec Vision conference next week.

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Symantec will launch the first public beta of its next-generation corporate
anti-virus software, Endpoint Protection 11.0, at its annual Symantec Vision conference next week.

The product has been available to a select group of beta testers since March, under the codename Hamlet. Symantec would not reveal Hamlet's official product name, but it is listed on the Vision conference website. Hamlet will be a follow-up to Symantec's AntiVirus Corporate Edition, version 10.

The new software is a major advance for Symantec, which has been working
for more than a year to integrate firewall, zero-day protection and network access control features into its anti-virus product.

"This is the next major version of the code base," said Brian Foster,
senior director of product management with Symantec's end point security
group. "With this release, we're really focused on changing the game for
anti-virus."

In addition to performance improvements, Hamlet would be easier to use and
to manage, Foster said.

Hamlet includes code from two recent Symantec acquisitions. It will have firewall capabilities based on the Sygate Enterprise Protection software Symantec acquired in 2005. It will also include SONAR, (Symantec Online Network for Advanced Response), based on code that Symantec acquired as part of its 2005 purchase of Whole Security.

Symantec and other anti-virus vendors are playing catch-up in the fight against malware writers, who are increasingly evading detection with a large number of low-circulation variants of their code, said Andrew Jaquith, an analyst with Yankee Group.

"They still have work to do," he said. "I don't think Symantec is quite
cognisant of the degree to which these variants are making their [research]
labs a lot less effective."

Symantec needs to add "much more comprehensive behaviour blocking", and
possibly "herd intelligence" capabilities that would allow users to directly identify and share information on the latest threats, Jaquith said.

Rival security firm McAfee is planning to announce a product to compete with Hamlet next week that is expected to be related to the vendor’s ePolicy Orchestrator security management software.

The commercial version of Hamlet is expected to be available later this year. Symantec Vision runs from Tuesday to Thursday next week in Las Vegas.

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