Symantec today rolled out several cloud security updates that protect workloads running on Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure, and it extend cloud access security broker (CASB) visibility across mobile applications. The vendor also now offers its cloud security products and services as a managed service.
The updates come at a time when Symantec is struggling with plunging enterprises revenues, an internal investigation into its financial disclosures, and an image problem as it works to shed its reputation as a legacy firewall vendor. Will today’s updates help lift it back into the black?
Eric Andrews, Symantec’s vice president of cloud security, said the company’s enterprise legacy combined with its cloud-native security technologies give it a one-two punch needed to help businesses move to the cloud.
“We are not sitting still and resting on our laurels,” Andrews said. “We know a lot of people are moving to the cloud and we know they need security. It takes a vendor with clout like Symantec to make those changes. We can partner with someone like Microsoft, whom we compete with on some levels, but they know we are a leader in the security space.”
The new capabilities represent several “industry firsts,” he added. “These new cloud security capabilities will help build on Symantec’s cloud momentum, adding more comprehensive protection of not just cloud apps but cloud infrastructure as well.”
For AWS and Azure environments this includes a new feature called Cloud Workload Assurance. This feature leverages Symantec’s security posture management and compliance work built for data centers and brings it to the public cloud. It helps protect against “human errors,” including things like inadvertently exposing sensitive data with misconfigured Amazon S3 buckets, Andrews explained.
Symantec also added cloud data loss prevention (DLP) capabilities. “So if you have Amazon instances or Azure instances we are able to go in and help scan all of those storage environments for DLP violations,” Andrews said.
New CASB Capabilities
Symantec acquired its CASB technology (and Andrews) from Blue Coat Systems in 2016. In its first-ever CASB Magic Quadrant published late last year, Gartner named Symantec a leader in the fast-growing cloud security sector.
With today’s update, the company extends its CASB visibility and threat protection to mobile versions of software-as-a-service (SaaS) apps such as Microsoft Office 365 and Box with a feature called Fast API. Andrews said these API integrations are an industry first.
Symantec also added API integrations with 18 other platforms including Workday, Facebook for Work, and AWS Docs, as well as new API standards that increase security update speeds to near real-time.
“This one is interesting for the industry as a whole,” Andrews said. “What this does is drastically reduce the time it takes to identify any issues and remediate them. Instead of 10 or 15 minutes, you’re talking about seconds. It’s a powerful new concept and we’re looking to work with CSA to potentially standardize around this approach.”
CSA is the Cloud Security Alliance, a coalition of security vendors, service providers, and other technology companies.
The company also introduced a Custom Gatelet to secure highly-specialized and homegrown cloud applications, and it added enhanced auditing and Symantec Endpoint Protection Mobile integration for mobile security. The vendor acquired Skycure last year, and this integration uses Skycure’s technology to simplify CASB services for mobile apps.
All of these new CASB features “give you the ability to basically protect any application at all,” Andrews said, adding that the new Custom Gatelet is also an industry first. “Typically you have API interfaces that support a handful of applications. We’ve introduced a Custom Gatelet that allows you to literally put protection in place for any cloud app out there.”
Managed Security Services
Finally, Symantec also launched Managed Cloud Defense, a managed security service that provides the companies’ cloud security products and services with monitoring from its Managed Security Operations Center.
The company also added remote investigations in virtualized environments, proactive hunting, and cloud threat containment to its managed cloud security service.
The big security picture here is that companies are moving to the cloud and security is struggling to keep pace. “Security is really just in its infancy here [in the cloud],” Andrews said, adding that “Symantec is stepping up to provide all the bits and pieces you need to cover yourself in the cloud.”
This includes its Integrated Cyber Defense platform, which includes endpoint, network, and cloud security, as well as its newer born-in-the-cloud security technologies like CASB. “It’s both continuing to innovate on the cloud-native side and having that powerful security framework to tie into,” Andrews said.
Will It Boost Symantec’s Cloud Cred?
After a disappointing first quarter, Symantec needs these updates to boost its bottom line and cloud-security clout with enterprise customers.
In August, the company reported a 5 percent drop in net revenue for its fiscal first quarter of 2019, with its enterprise security revenue plummeting 14 percent to $556 million. Symantec also filed documents outlining its plan to cut 8 percent of its global workforce (900 employees) that is part of a larger restructuring plan to save about $115 million annually.
Meanwhile, Symantec revealed an internal investigation into concerns raised by a former employee about the company’s financial disclosures.
When asked if the product updates will be enough to boost Symantec’s enterprise revenue and reposition the company as a cloud security leader, Enterprise Strategy Group analyst Doug Cahill said it’s a big market opportunity. He added that Symantec is in a good position to take advantage of that opportunity.
“Cloud security is an appreciable market opportunity, one born out of the fact the adoption of cloud services is well ahead of organizational readiness to secure the use of SaaS apps as well as IaaS and PaaS services,” Cahill said. “But businesses are working to close this cloud security readiness gap by developing cloud security strategies, establishing a cloud security architect role, and budgeting for incremental spend. Symantec is well positioned to capitalize on these strategic motions and cloud security spending intentions with a cloud security portfolio that spans both cloud apps and cloud infrastructure.”