Symantec's Vision: on the move and heading for the clouds

Linda Musthaler
By | May 21, 2012

Posted in: Network Security Trends

My company has sent a representative to the Symantec Vision conference for the past several years, and this year I drew the lucky straw to attend. The conference themes over the years have been some variation of “manage and protect,” but this year’s emphasis was clearly on data security, especially when it comes to data in the cloud and on mobile devices.

The theme emerged early when Symantec CEO Enrique Salem advised an auditorium full of security professionals not to fear mobility or the cloud, but to embrace these new platforms by protecting their organizations’ data in various ways. Salem urged a shift in security strategies from being infrastructure-focused to being information-centric: Protect the information wherever it is: on endpoint devices, in the cloud and in storage.

Enhancing mobile security

One of the big new product announcements was on enterprise mobility by helping customers secure mobile data across both corporately managed and personally owned devices. To that end, Symantec announced several enhancements to its mobility portfolio:

  • Mobile Application Management. Following the acquisition of Nukona, Symantec now offers the cross-platform mobile application management needed to help organizations containerize corporate applications and protect sensitive data. Mobile Application Management helps enterprises distribute, secure and control applications and data without requiring them to manage the complete devices. With the ability to natively protect and control iOS, Android and HTML5 apps, this product addresses the core problem of corporate and personal data separation without limiting the end-user experience or application adoption.

  • Symantec Data Loss Prevention for Mobile. The company is renaming Symantec Data Loss Prevention (DLP) for Tablets and broadening the product’s scope with iPhone support. This product, expected in the second half of 2012, should help CISOs monitor and control the transmission of confidential data from mobile devices without restricting users’ access to applications. The goal is to concurrently support business productivity and personal use of the mobile devices.

  • Symantec Certificate Intelligence Center (CIC) for Mobile.  Symantec is extending its Certificate Intelligence Center to the mobile platform to address the challenges of managing SSL certificates across large and complex networks. With CIC for Mobile, IT managers and stakeholders can monitor and manage their SSL certificate inventory anytime, anywhere. Detailed and real-time intelligence into SSL certificate usage on their network environment helps administrators maintain business continuity and strengthen network security.

  • Symantec Code Signing for Android. This service allows developers to digitally sign their .APK files for the Android platform and securely manage their certificate keys and store their signed applications, all from a single cloud-based console. Symantec Code Signing for Android also has the first ever dedicated Android root certificate from a security vendor.

A trust infrastructure in the cloud

A relatively new cloud security service (released in February at the RSA conference) featured at Vision is called O3 Cloud Identity and Access Control. It is a trust infrastructure that offers organizations a single, secure access point to a wide variety of cloud and web applications and services. Symantec O3 enables single sign-on (SSO) across any web application, including those that do not support federation protocols. It leverages an enterprise’s existing identity infrastructure for authentication while enabling context-based authorization, password management and federation services. Symantec O3 Cloud Identity and Access Control is integrated with Symantec Validation and ID Protection Service (VIP), enabling enterprises to leverage their existing VPN credentials to strengthen access to any cloud application.

As time goes by, Symantec will build more capabilities around the O3 infrastructure. For example, the company plans to deliver cloud information security by leveraging its data loss prevention and PGP encryption technologies to automatically detect, and block or encrypt confidential information before it’s stored or shared in the cloud. The third layer of Symantec O3 is scheduled to enable information management and compliance by aggregating all cloud-related security events, providing the foundation for comprehensive cloud audit, forensics and compliance.

Security threats over the years

Eric Chien, technical director of the Symantec Security Technology and Response division (STAR), has a unique perspective on the evolution of security. For more than 20 years, he has led deep analysis team of engineers that investigate and reverse-engineer the latest high-impact Internet security threats. Chien has seen it all, but he vividly remembers the day that Stuxnet entered his lab. That’s the day he realized that security threats had jumped to a whole new level and that his job would never be the same.

Life at STAR has changed a lot. In the beginning, Chien says his team would receive a few floppy disks a week with a suspected virus or other type of malware. Today, STAR monitors malicious code reports from more than 130 million Symantec and Norton systems across the Internet; receives data from 40,000 network sensors in more than 200 countries. STAR tracks more than 25,000 vulnerabilities affecting more than 55,000 technologies from more than 8,000 vendors. Chien’s team feeds its research and analysis into the development process for new and enhanced Symantec products.

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