Big 3 endpoint vendors battle glitzy startups at RSAC

It’s not about buzzwords or one-trick ponies for Symantec, McAfee, Trend Micro



SAN FRANCISCO -- The sprawling show floor at this year’s RSA Conference featured hundreds of shiny, new companies, from Acalvio to ZingBox. It seemed like every vendor in the hall managed to incorporate into its marketing pitches at least one of the 2017 hot buzzwords – Advanced Threat Protection, machine learning, AI, threat intelligence, IoT.

But three of the original anti-virus vendors – Symantec, McAfee and Trend Micro – were out in full force at the show as well, scoffing at the unproven point products of the startups and touting their own reorganizations, renewed focus and broad product portfolios. According to Gartner, the Big 3 lead the way in endpoint security market share, with Symantec, at $3.6 billion in annual revenue, out front, McAfee second, followed by Trend Micro.

Here’s a quick refresher on what’s been happening at Symantec, McAfee and Trend Micro:

  • Symantec, which had gone through quite a bit of upheaval over the past several years, seems to be back on track. The company’s 2005 purchase of storage vendor Veritas was deemed a failure and Symantec unloaded Veritas in 2015 so it could focus exclusively on security. Symantec then went out and bought Web security vendor Blue Coat and identity protection vendor LifeLock. Symantec stock has risen more than 80% over the past 12 months.
  • After disappearing for a while, McAfee is back. Intel bought McAfee in 2010 and renamed the company Intel Security. But Intel has spun the company back out as a joint venture between Intel and investment firm TPG. The new company, which will be called McAfee once again, is being helmed by industry veteran Chris Young. 
  • Trend Micro has gone the acquisition route to broaden its product line, including last year’s purchase of IPS vendor Tipping Point. Unlike the other two companies, Trend Micro is known for its remarkable stability. The company was founded by Steven Chang, Jenny Chang and Eva Chen. The two women are sisters and Chen has been CEO since 2005. Trend Micro stock has jumped on the Japanese stock exchange from around 4,000 Yen a year ago to nearly 5,000 Yen today.

“Security is holistic,’’ says Trend Micro’s Mark Nunnikhoven. “You close one door and attacks get through another one.” He says enterprises need a suite of controls both on-premises and in the cloud in order to protect their networks, “not a one-trick pony.”

As for the buzzwords, Nunnikhoven says Trend Micro’s XGen security suite covers all the bases. What about all the new threat intelligence companies? Trend Micro launched its threat intel network in 2008, he says. “We’ve got 28-years-worth of data,” he points out. Machine learning? We’ve got that, too, adds Nunnikhoven, who is vice-president of cloud research.

Mark Urban, vice president of product strategy and operations at Symantec, says the company is now “laser focused.” For example, Symantec has extended its DLP product to Office 365 customers, and is integrating its Elastica cloud access security broker (CASB), which was part of the Blue Coat acquisition.


“Customers have fragmented security approaches, which makes them susceptible to multi-vector attacks,” says Urban. Symantec’s goal is to help customers integrate their security portfolio. At RSAC, Symantec was showcasing its Integrated Cyber Defense Platform, which is aimed at protecting against advanced threats both on-premise and in the cloud.

“Customers are enamored with buzzwords,” Urban says. He points out that Symantec doesn’t just have machine learning and AI; it’s on its second generation of machine learning and AI.

JK Lialias, director of product marketing at McAfee, says that getting spun off from Intel allows the company to “get the focus back again.” He says McAfee’s Dynamic Endpoint Threat Defense product uses behavioral-based machine learning to block attacks.

“It’s critical not to be an island,” Lialias says. He argues that buying best of breed point products creates silos and results in management problems for busy security professionals.

The argument being made by Symantec, McAfee and Trend Micro is that flashy new products come and go. But enterprises need to deploy a reliable, broad-based security platform that’s integrated and that delivers multi-stage protection.

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