Symantec preps delayed vPro security appliance

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Symantec preps delayed vPro security appliance

Virtual security appliance to ship with Intel's Weybridge.

Symantec is preparing to ship version 1.0 of its virtual security appliance for Intel's vPro enterprise desktop platform this September.  

The software will require Intel's Weybridge, an update to the vPro platform scheduled for release in the second half of this year.  

The launch of the Symantec Virtual Security Appliance is scheduled to take place around the same time as the release of the vPro upgrade.

VPro is a business desktop platform that allows management software to run in an virtual compartment separate from the main operating system.

Running security software in an isolated virtual compartment prevents malware and the user from tampering with the software.

PC manufacturers started shipping the first vPro systems last September, but software vendors have lagged behind in releasing virtual software appliances for the platform. Symantec will end up delaying the release of its appliance by a year. 

Lenovo is the only vendor currently shipping a virtual appliance, the Antidote Delivery Manager, which lets system administrators apply patches, restore data from back-ups and perform system maintenance.

Gary Sabala, senior product manager for virtual security solutions at Symantec, said in an interview that the company required more time to "ensure that we have the proper security aspects covered".

Symantec spent additional time ensuring that attackers would be unable to interfere with vPro's boot sequence, for example.

The platform has to ensure that the main operating system is launched only after the virtual security appliance has been loaded.

If attackers could reverse this process, they would create a period during which the system operates without protection.

Sabala argued that the delay in the release of its software did not pose a major problem because enterprises are still evaluating the vPro platform.

"This is a new way to develop security for the PC. It may take a number of months, if not years, to get the enterprise customer to fully adopt this," he said.

Symantec plans to release version 2.0 of its security appliance by the second half of 2008, offering systems management features similar to those offered by Lenovo.

By that time Intel and Red Hat are expected to have finished the transition of vPro to a Linux-based environment and open source virtualisation technology.  

The current version uses proprietary virtualisation technology and requires software in the virtual appliances to run on Microsoft's Windows CE.
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