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Symantec Offers SaaS Endpoint Security

The cloud-based service offers to secure PCs and servers with antivirus, antispyware, firewall, and HIPS.

What if your IT department could opt out of the virus, worm, spyware and malware arms race?

Symantec Wednesday launched a SaaS-based security offering for Windows-based desktops, laptops and file servers, aimed at freeing IT from the tyranny of attack code, pushing emergency virus signatures or immediately reacting to yet another Microsoft patch Tuesday or vulnerability announcement.

Dubbed Symantec Hosted Endpoint Protection, the cloud-based offering, aimed at small and midsize businesses, provides antivirus, antispyware, firewall and a host intrusion prevention system (HIPS) for PCs, and antivirus and antispyware for file servers, all managed via the cloud by Symantec.

From an IT administration standpoint, the front end is a Web-based management console for adding new PCs, setting policies and reviewing real-time updates. Security alerts can also be sent via SMS or email. Using the console, IT managers can also force a PC to update its Hosted Endpoint Protection software, review the PC's security history, and change local security policies.

Today, the most popular cloud-based applications are largely in the customer relationship management (CRM), marketing, collaboration and personal productivity realms. But experts have said it was just a matter of time before every type of enterprise application made its way to the cloud, including security. In fact, given the difficulty of correctly configuring and maintaining firewalls, or pushing security software upgrades to mobile workers, many organizations will likely welcome the opportunity to outsource such challenges.

Or at last that's what Symantec, the world's largest endpoint security software vendor, is counting on, especially for small and midsize businesses, which would rather focus their scarce IT talent on more pressing issues than antivirus updates.

"Customers often experience pain when increased IT resources are required to stay abreast of evolving endpoint threats," said IDC analyst Christian Christiansen in a statement. "To reduce these difficulties, customers want turnkey endpoint solutions that provide the latest protection levels with easy setup, zero maintenance, and automatic upgrades."

Cue cloud-based endpoint security applications.

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