Note: Most of the products mentioned here have been replaced or discontinued, though the structure of the offerings remains the same. See the Symantec program page for current choices.

Symantec Endpoint ProtectionTechSoup has a strong donor partner relationship with Symantec, which means we can make many of their products available for donation to eligible nonprofits and libraries through our product donation program. However, Symantec is a fast-moving company responding to a plethora of trends in technology and computer security so the names and capabilities of their products change frequently. We though it might be time for a brief tutorial on the different versions of Symantec's security applications.

When reading about enterprise security products, it helps to have a basic grasp on computer security concepts. If computer and network security are entirely new to you, take a look at some of the resources in our Security Corner and the Glossary of Security Terms at SANS before getting started.

An Abbreviated History of Symantec Security Software

Symantec has developed and sold standalone security software since their purchase of Peter Norton Computing in the early 1990s. They're best known for their antivirus software (Norton AntiVirus, now on its 17th release).

Norton  AntiVirus 2010However, through expansion and acquisitions, their product line has grown to encompass all aspects of information security for individual consumers and organizations (including but not limited to, desktop firewalls, host-based intrusion prevention systems, e-mail security applications, and backup software). Moreover, for the past few years, Symantec has focused on selling these applications as bundled application suites rather than standalone products.

Symantec's Home User Products

For the consumer market, Symantec's main products are Norton Internet Security and Norton 360. Both contain antivirus, anti-spyware, personal firewall, phishing protection, and malware detection/removal capabilities. As illustrated in this comparison chart, Norton 360 has some backup, recovery, and PC optimization features that Norton Internet Security and Norton Antivirus don't have.

Symantec's Business and Enterprise Products

For businesses and other organizations, Symantec markets integrated application suites: Symantec Endpoint Protection (SEP) (for servers and end-user devices) and the Symantec Protection Suite (SPS) (intended primarily for servers). These two products are successors to Norton Antivirus Corporate edition. We still have bundles of licenses for an old version (10.2) of the corporate edition in our catalog, but for all the latest features and capabilities, it's wisest to request editions of SEP or SPS. SPS includes all the features of SEP, as well as backup/recovery features, and e-mail/messaging security capabilities that aren't included in SEP. For a more detailed listing of features, see this product comparison chart.

Symantec Protection Suite Small Biz EditionFor protecting servers, organizations should obtain either Symantec Endpoint Protection Small Business Edition, or Symantec Protection Suite Small Business Edition. For desktop computers, organizations need a software license for each client computer on which they plan to install SEP, and the TechSoup catalog includes these licenses in bundles of 5, 10, 25, 50, or 75. All versions of SEP and SPS include management console software that organizations can use to centrally administer client computers. For example, you can push out antivirus definitions and monitor end-user devices for suspicious activity. You can install SEP in a managed, centralized manner or in an unmanaged, decentralized configuration.  How to Install Symantec Endpoint Protection Small Business Edition Clients and How to Install Symantec Protection Center provide more information on the differences between managed clients and unmanaged clients.

In conclusion, I hope this brief overview helps differentiate some of Symantec's numerous product offerings. No matter which products you choose, remember that information security moves quickly, and we all need help from institutions and companies that have the resources to keep pace with the cyber criminals.