Effective cybersecurity these days is a complex and multifaceted affair involving a myriad of approaches: intrusion detection/prevention, vulnerability detection, malware mitigation, security configuration management (SCM), security information and event management (SIEM), patch management, file integrity monitoring (FIM), and more. For most organizations, however, the shortest path of least resistance means deploying a consolidated platform combining a multitude of these approaches. Tenable SecurityCenter Continuous View (CV) and Symantec Endpoint Protection are two such offerings.
A combination of these mechanisms—on top of traditional endpoint and perimeter security devices (e.g., firewalls, IDPS)—is necessary to fend off increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks. That said, no panacea exists for cybercrime; in fact, leading IT security vendors have also come into the crosshairs of attackers as of late. Furthermore, all software is intrinsically prone to flaws and security gaps, even security products. Keep this in mind as we compare these two products—at the end of the day, firms most likely to rebound from inevitable data breaches are the ones that are most resilient—not necessarily those with the best/most security mechanisms in place.
Most widely known for its free Nessus vulnerability scanner, Tenable and its flagship SecurityCenter CV are popular among enterprises for vulnerability management and security analytics.
The Tenable interface. Source: Tenable Network Security / YouTube.com.
Security events and data can be viewed and managed through the platform's pre-built, customizable dashboards and reports. Additionally, SecurityCenter CV offers continuous visibility, advanced analytics, real-time metrics, and continuous compliance, among others.
Symantec Endpoint Protection combines five layers of protection: network threat protection and a rule-based firewall, signature-based antivirus and advanced file heuristics, reputation scoring, AI-powered zero-day protection, and advanced persistent threats mitigation and malware removal—all managed through a single interface.
The Symantec Endpoint Protection UI. Source: support.symantec.com.
The platform uses data gleaned from the monitoring, analyzing, and processing of more than 10 trillion security events per year worldwide—its so-called Global Intelligence Network (GIN). By using GIN to identify files to be scanned, Symantec Endpoint Protection eliminates and deduplicates superfluous jobs for smarter, faster protection.
Side-by-Side Scoring: Tenable vs. Symantec
1. Capability Set
Both SecurityCenter CV and Symantec Endpoint Protection combine several elements of protection into one security platform. Symantec's platform include strong features like malware removal and antivirus while Tenable SecurityCenter CV's Nessus vulnerability scanner and advanced security analytics are its strong points.
2. Ease of Use
Tenable SecurityCenter CV's HTML5 front-end feels patently modern and intuitive with well-laid out navigation elements and dashboards. In contrast, Symantec's interface seems dated; despite this, the platform is nonetheless trivial to gain proficiency with.
Ease of Use
3. Community Support
Tenable's Nessus was previously an open source project—and is still a popular vulnerability scanners with a sizable community of supporters. Symantec also has a substantial base of community supporters, due in large part to its longstanding role as a leading global cybersecurity vendor.
4. Release Rate
Tenable SecurityCenter is on version 5.3.2 while its Nessus Vulnerability Scanner is currently at version 6.7, with both seeing releases and updates regularly. Interestingly, Symantec Endpoint Protection has been at version 12.1 since 2011.
5. Pricing and Support
Tenable SecurityCenter costs upwards of over $20,000 sans annual maintenance—not exactly a drop in the bucket for price-conscious organizations. Symantec Endpoint Security costs significantly less: ~$499 for up to 25 users. Enterprise pricing is available on request.
Both provide premium phone and web support, though Symantec's quality of support falls short. Tenable offers more customized onsite support options as well as a range of professional services to complement its flagship offering.
Pricing and Support
6. API and Extensibility
Like most modern software applications, Tenable SecurityCenter provides a REST API for custom integrations. Symantec Endpoint Protection comes with a set of limited public web service APIs for remote monitoring and management (RMM) applications.
API and Extensibility
7. 3rd Party Integrations
Tenable features a myriad of integrations with popular vendors like Cisco, Salesforce. and Airwatch, to name a few. In contrast, custom 3rd party integrations with Symantec are possible but limited.
3rd Party Integrations
8. Companies that Use It
Both Tenable and Symantec have sizable user bases and count many of the world's most recognizable global brands as their customers. In fact, Tenable has over one million users and over 20,000 enterprise customers worldwide: the U.S. Department of Defense, Deloitte, Visa, BMW, Adidas, and Microsoft, to name a few. Some of Symantec's marquee customers include Acer, ING, eBay, the City of London, and Carnegie Corporation.
Companies that Use It
9. Learning Curve
Both security platforms have relatively smooth learning curves; that said, Tenable's solution is more in line with the expectations of contemporary users.
Scoreboard and Summary
|Ease of Use|
|Pricing and Support|
|API and Extensibility|
|3rd Party Integrations|
|Companies that Use It|
|Total||4.6 out of 5||3.4 out of 5|
You may have heard about Symantec's recent, sweeping fiasco involving the discovery of critical bugs across its product line. All in all, security flaws in 25 of its products, including various Norton-branded solutions and its flagship security platform Symantec Endpoint Protection were found to be vulnerable, putting millions at risk. Potential Symantec customers should certainly take this into consideration, as they could potentially fall victim to self-replicating attacks designed to sabotage their computers.
Bug/vulnerabilities aside, both Symantec Endpoint Security and Tenable SecurityCenter CV are popular options for continuous security. Tenable offers advanced security analytics and a popular battle-tested vulnerability scanner but its high price tag make it more of an enterprise-oriented solution. Symantec Endpoint Security's low cost translates to more individual and SMB customers, but it lacks attributes sophisticated users would expect from a modern software suite.
Monitoring tools have come a long way since the early days of Big Brother. Today's solutions have evolved into powerful software troubleshooting and performance analytics platforms capable of deconstructing and analyzing the entire application stack—infrastructure up—for bugs and issues.
As perimeter-based cyber protection falls to the wayside, a new breed of continuous security solutions are emerging that combine traditional endpoint protection with newer technologies like security information and event management (SIEM) and crowdsourced threat intelligence.