Symantec offers endpoint encryption products

Rebranded GuardianEdge offerings to protect Windows computers

Symantec is taking its first step into desktop encryption by rebranding two endpoint security products from GuardianEdge, though the intent is to integrate the encryption capability into Symantec's own flagship desktop security product at some future date.

The Symantec Endpoint Encryption 6.0 Suite is scheduled to ship on March 3 as two standalone products, the Full Disk Edition for encrypting all disk sectors on Windows XP or 2000 computers, and secondly, the Removable Storage Edition, which lets companies set policies for encrypting files to any external storage. A version for Windows Vista is not yet available.

Symantec's approach to entering the endpoint encryption market through a licensing arrangement is in stark contrast to that of its chief rival, McAfee, which last month began offering McAfee Total Protection for Data. That package includes endpoint encryption acquired via McAfee's buyout of SafeBoot last October for US$350 million.

The Removable Storage Edition from Symantec is intended for Windows-based enterprises as it makes use of a server plug-in for Active Directory to set policy based on domain membership, says Edy Almer, senior product manager at Symantec. The security manager can decide to issue a personal encryption key to individuals within the enterprise or issue a group organization key, he said.

The encryption is based on the Advanced Encryption Standard, either the 128-bit length or the more powerful 256-bit length, Almer says. He adds that some countries, including Israel, France, China and in some cases, Russia, do require an import license for the more powerful version of the encryption.

Although Symantec is relying on a vendor OEM licensing arrangement for its first encryption product, Joan Fazio, Symantec's director of product management, says the intent is to eventually integrate the encryption capabilities into Symantec Endpoint Protection software.

That Windows-based Symantec Endpoint Protection 11 software, released last fall, includes antivirus, network-access control, device control, host intrusion prevention and a firewall. Currently, the Symantec Endpoint Encryption 6.0 Suite cannot be managed under a Symantec management console.

The Symantec Full Disk Edition and the Removable Storage Edition each cost US$72 for 1,000 seats, while the combined products cost US$107 per 1,000 seats.

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