Symantec End-User Endpoint Security Review

Lacks next-generation behaviour-based detection, offers terrible technical support, and not as robust as competitors

What is our primary use case?

The use case for the solution was basically this: any computer or anything used for any sort of official business needed to have endpoint protection and needed to have some sort of antivirus protection. The thing was somewhat more than just an antivirus, it also included a firewall that operated in addition to the Windows or Mac firewall.

The university policy basically required that all endpoint devices used for official business have to meet certain requirements and one of them was to have an antivirus.

How has it helped my organization?

The solution probably caught some malware a certain percentage of the time and that helped the organization. By the time we abandoned it, it was actually less effective, at least on Windows 10 machines, than the built-in antivirus that you get with the Windows 10 Defender Antivirus. It became, in the end, sort-of a liability.

It also became a liability when the company was sold to Broadcom. The name is actually different now. I don't think it's called Symantec Endpoint Protection. It's called Broadcom Endpoint Protection. We had a very difficult time even getting in touch with the technical support from that company, especially after Symantec was sold. It wasn't a very robust solution.

What is most valuable?

The solution detects malware very well.

What needs improvement?

It wasn't a very good solution overall, which is why we ended up replacing it.

Most organizations are choosing a next-gen antivirus, one that's based on artificial intelligence. Symantec Endpoint Protection was one of those legacy products that have been around forever. Symantec was a spinoff from Norton. Norton Antivirus was one of the very first antiviruses to come out in the 1980s. Symantec was very highly rated at one point in its life. It never really caught on to the new trends and antivirus protection. And so it still relied on things like a database of virus signatures that would need to get downloaded and then files would be checked for those signatures.

Modern antiviruses don't do that. They're based on behavior. They're based on intelligence algorithms. They're honed by artificial intelligence and machine learning from data collected all over the world. And so for that reason, the next-gen antiviruses are much more efficient at detecting viruses. They also take up a lighter load on the computer.

Next-generation is behavior-based detection rather than signature-based detection. Symantec tried to be a hybrid between the two. It had a behavior-based component called SONAR, however, it was still mostly a signature-based software antivirus application. For that reason, you can never keep up with all the mutations and viruses, and you can't keep up with malicious behavior that isn't based on viruses. Things like downloaded PowerShell scripts, things that computers can do with the components that they already have without needing to put any virus on the computer. A lot of malicious attacks, government-backed attacks, don't use any kind of foreign software. They take advantage of vulnerabilities within existing operating systems like Microsoft Windows or the various versions of Linux or the Mac operating system. They don't need to put additional software on the computer to compromise them.

That, in a nutshell, is why we switched to a next-gen antivirus. Next-gen antiviruses have probably been around for about five or six years. Some of the old companies made the transition to them seamlessly. Symantec didn't. It remained wedded to the old technology and that made it, you could say, a has-been.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using the solution for many years. It's probably been about ten years at this point, at least a decade.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability was not the best. There were times when antivirus updates broke it. It wasn't necessarily self-updating - at least, not in terms of the virus signatures. It updated in terms of the executable files. Therefore, when Windows updates would come out, they often couldn't be installed, or the computer would hang due to the fact that the updates weren't compatible with the antivirus. I give it pretty poor score for robustness.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It was scalable just due to the fact that had to be installed individually on individual computers. For the unmanaged workstations, it was as scalable as you wanted it to be. There was a new download and a new install on a new computer. There are no limits on that. I'm not sure, however, how true that is, as it wasn't within my area of responsibility. I'm not sure if the managed work points overloaded the servers that were meant to monitor them. I don't think that was the case. The scalability was probably pretty good there too. I never heard any complaints about it not being scalable.

We likely had between 10,000 and 20,000 users on it. The roles would include, since it's a university, students, faculty, staff, and researchers. That pretty much covered the type of people that work at a university.

We don't plan to increase usage as we've completely phased out the solution.

How are customer service and technical support?

Once Symantec was sold to Broadcom, it became very difficult to reach out to technical support, and they just stopped being responsive. By the end, we were very unhappy with their level of support.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I've been at the organization for 21, 22 years. Originally, before we had Symantec, it was McAfee antivirus. We had that up until maybe about 2010 or so. Now, we are using CrowdStrike Falcon.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was not complex. It was simple.

The deployment was always ongoing due to the fact that, as a university with something like 16,000 employees, computers were getting bought and repurposed all the time. The initial rollout was in fact not a managed version of the antivirus. It was just a standalone version that users could download from a website when they provided their credentials. After that, they would just double click on a downloaded file and run the installer and they'd have the antivirus.

However, it was completely unmonitored. The antivirus program on their computer was not sending its data anywhere. It couldn't be helped by anyone remotely to do its job of protecting the computer.

Therefore, almost all organizations now want to have a managed antivirus solution where there's software installed on the computer, but it communicates with the cloud, and IT administrators at the organization can control this behavior and learn from it.

In terms of the staff required to handle the deployment and maintenance, there was probably the equivalent of maybe two to three full-time staff that were dedicated to antivirus endpoint protection issues. 

What about the implementation team?

We handled everything ourselves in-house. We didn't need the help of a consultant or integrator.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

We pay on a yearly basis. However, I'm unsure of the exact amount.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We did evaluate a number of other vendors. We entertained some RFPs and we did testing on four other competing products. There was one other competitor that was close. The main factor that tilted us toward CrowdStrike is that they did make a last-minute significant cut in price to their offer. I think they reduced it by something like 30% or 40%.

CrowdStrike has been in the business longer and is a bigger company than the runner up as well. To us, that mattered. If there is winnowing out of competitors, if the market actually shrinks and there are a few big players in five years, we want to be sure that we're with one of the big players that are going to make it.

What other advice do I have?

The solution is a kind of a mix between an on-premise managed server that managing some machines, and other machines just had an unmanaged client that was distributed to students. It's not actually a cloud, it's a server. It's an on-premises server. It's not a cloud-based server that is being used. The antiviruses report to the server and policies can be set on the server.

I'd advise users to be aware that there are better solutions out there than this. I've learned that technology can change and your solution may be great now, but in a few years, it may drop to the bottom of the barrel. That's what happened here.

I'd rate the solution one out of ten. In order to get any sort of higher rating, they would need to start it over again from scratch. Instead of trying to make a legacy product better, they should abandon it and invent a new product.

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Which version of this solution are you currently using?

**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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