Point-of-sale device best practices for Endpoint Protection 14
search cancel

Point-of-sale device best practices for Endpoint Protection 14


Article ID: 170569


Updated On:


Endpoint Protection


Learn how to deploy Symantec Endpoint Protection 14 in a retail point-of-sale (POS) environment with fixed function endpoints.


  • Endpoint Protection 14
  • Endpoint Protection 12.1



This document describes the recommended configuration for running Symantec Endpoint Protection 12.1 on Windows point-of-sale (PoS) devices. Symantec recommends that PoS devices use the following Symantec Endpoint Protection technologies:

  • Antivirus, Memory Exploit Mitigation, SONAR, Download Insight, and Intrusion Prevention System (IPS).
  • System Lockdown policy to allow only approved applications.
  • Application Control policy to constrain unwanted behaviors of allowed applications
  • The firewall policy to restrict network to all but a specific set of applications.

Point-of-sale devices may have different operating systems. Symantec Endpoint Protection 12.1 fully supports different Windows operating systems, including Windows Embedded, which is commonly used on PoS devices.

Note: If the PoS device is running a non-Windows operating system, Symantec Embedded Security: Critical System Protection product may be used as an alternative.

Restricting unapproved applications

One of the most important security practices to implement on a PoS device is to restrict the use of unapproved applications that are allowed to run on the PoS device. You can restrict unapproved applications using Application Control and System Lockdown.

Restricting applications with System Lockdown

System Lockdown enables blacklisting or whitelisting capabilities. The whitelisting mode allows you to tightly control which applications are allowed to run on the endpoint. Approved applications are contained in a list of fingerprints that include checksums and locations of applications that are approved for use.

Implementing System Lockdown is a two-step process. First, you create a fingerprint list, and then you import the list into the Symantec Endpoint Protection Manager (SEPM) for use in the System Lockdown policy.

To generate the file fingerprint list, use the checksum tool included in the Symantec Endpoint Protection client installation. Symantec recommends that you create a software image that includes all of the applications to whitelist on the PoS devices, and then use this image to create a file fingerprint list.

For more information on enabling System Lockdown for whitelisting, see Configuring system lockdown.

For more information on excluding Symantec Endpoint Protection definition files, see Symantec Endpoint Protection system lockdown blocks definitions updates.

Restricting applications with Application Control

Applications can be restricted with Application Control. Application Control must include not only the PoS applications, but also the required operating system applications that the PoS device runs at startup. You configure Application Control to first monitor which applications the device runs, and then create a rule that allows these applications to run. You allow an application by specifying its full path and name.

To restrict an application from running using Application Control:

  1. Run a tool, such as Process Monitor or Process Explorer, to get a list of all applications that run on the PoS device. Keep the tool running during normal PoS activity to pick up any applications that are short-lived; also, check for startup processes.
  2. With a list of all the applications, create an Application Control rule at the highest priority to allow those applications to run. Include the full path and name of the application. This is the first Rule Set.
  3. If you are using a software management tool, such as Symantec Endpoint Management or Microsoft System Center, determine which application is used for the software management tool. Create a rule at a lower priority to allow the software management tool to run any application. Enable the Sub-processes inherit conditions setting for this rule. This is the second Rule Set.
  4. Create a rule at a lower priority to block any application from running. This is the third Rule Set.

Using these three rules will allow only specific known applications to run by file name and path. It will block other applications on the PoS device from running, even if the other applications are valid applications. The advantage of this blocking is that attackers will sometimes use valid applications that are on the PoS device, but are not normally used, to attack the system. As an example, they may use applications like cmd.exe, cscript.exe, or even telnet.exe.

For more information, see Configuring Application and Device Control.

Restricting applications with Application Control

In addition to fully restricting unapproved applications, you can use Application Control to limit the attack surface on the device. The Application Control policy includes templates with predefined rule sets to block behaviors known to be malicious. Best practices would include enabling some of these rule sets on your PoS device to block malicious application behaviors.

To enable application control rule sets:

  1. Add a new Application Control policy and apply it to the group the PoS devices are in.
  2. Enable the following application rule sets:
    • Block programs from running from removable drives
    • Block modifications to hosts file
    • Block access to scripts
    • Block access to Autorun.inf (already enabled)
    • Block File Shares
    • Prevent changes to Windows shell load points
    • Prevent changes to system using browser or office products
    • Prevent vulnerable Windows processes from writing code
    • Prevent Windows Services from using UNC paths
    • Block access to lnk and pif files

For information on what these rule sets do, see Hardening Symantec Endpoint Protection (SEP) with an Application and Device Control Policy to increase security.

Restricting applications in the firewall policy

In most PoS devices, there are only few applications that require access to network. These applications need access to specific ports only, either inbound or outbound. As a rule of thumb, you should restrict which applications are allowed to communicateon the network and what they are allowed to do. When communication is restricted, even if an untrusted application gets on the system, it will not be allowed to send any data from the PoS device.

To restrict applications in the firewall policy:

  1. Open the default firewall policy.
  2. Disable the following firewall rules:
    • Allow Local File Sharing to private IP addresses (rule 9)
    • Allow UPnP Discovery from private addresses (rule 12)
    • Allow Web Services requests from private IP addresses (rule 14)
    • Allow LLMNR from private IP addresses (rule 16)
    • Allow LLMNR from ipv6 traffic (rule 18)
    • Allow Web Services Discovery from private IP addresses (rule 19)
    • Allow all applications (rule 24)
    • Allow VPN (rule 25)
  3. Create one rule for each application on your PoS device that sends traffic. Move the rules at the top of the rule set. Edit each of these rules and add in the TCP or UDP ports that are needed for each of these applications. Specify whether the ports are used for inbound or outbound traffic.

For more information on creating and managing the firewall rules, see Managing firewall protection.

Configuring anti-malware protection

Restricting which applications are allowed to run can offer enhanced protection. However, Symantec recommends that you also enable anti-malware protection to detect known malware files. This is useful for a number of reasons. First, when Application Control or System Lockdown blocks an application, only the file attributes, such as name, path, and size, are stored. However, if the file is a known malware file, Symantec Endpoint Protection can detect and log the file as malware by using anti-malware technologies. Furthermore, anti-malware technologies block malware other than applications, such as scripts and macros, whereas Application Control and System Lockdown may not be configured to block those scripts or macros.

For advanced anti-malware protection, installing just the antivirus component won’t be enough. You should also enable memory exploit mitigation,  SONAR, Insight, and IPS. Symantec Endpoint Protection installs and enables all of these technologies by default.

Note: Both Insight and SONAR require Internet access to leverage reputation data from Symantec’s Global Intelligence Network. Depending on your policy, it may not be optimal for PoS devices to access the Internet for reputation data. In this case, install and set up Symantec Insight for Private Clouds. Symantec Insight for Private Clouds allows PoS devices to look for reputation data without requiring access to the Internet.

For more information on how to configure Symantec Insight for Private Clouds, see Configuring Symantec Endpoint Protection Manager to work with a private Insight server.

Reducing disk space on the PoS device

Starting with Symantec Endpoint Protection 12.1.6 Symantec introduced options for a reduced-size installation package for Windows Embedded clients and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) clients. The reduced-size client is approximately 80 percent to 90 percent smaller on disk than standard-size Windows clients.  The following articles provide more information on the reduced size client installation packages as well as information on Embedded support.

See About reduced-size client installation packages.

See Support for Windows Embedded for Symantec Endpoint Protection.

Removing content

The Symantec Endpoint Protection client uses signatures and virus definition files as part of the antivirus engine. These signatures and virus definition files are referred to as content. All content is available on LiveUpdate™ and is periodically updated. If you do not install all of the technologies of the Symantec Endpoint Protection client, you can remove some of the content from the client installation package.

You can remove the largest content files when you export the client package from Symantec Endpoint Protection Manager using the Basic Content option on the Export a Client Install Package task. In addition, you can remove all content from the client installation package. The client then downloads only the required content when LiveUpdate runs on the PoS device. Since only the required content is downloaded, the client requires less disk space on the PoS device.

To remove all content:

  1. Export the client package as a non-EXE file.
  2. Open the folder where you exported the client installation package files.
  3. Delete the following file file: *Defs.zip

Installing a reduced-size client installation package

For version 12.1.6 and later, install a reduced-size installation package for Windows Embedded clients and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) clients. The reduced-size client is approximately 80 percent to 90 percent smaller on disk than standard-size Windows clients.

See About reduced-size client installation packages.

See How to choose a client installation type.

See About Windows client installation packages

Enabling Write Filters

The Write Filter is a feature of the Windows Embedded client that may be enabled on different PoS devices. It can prevent changes to the disk (or flash) drive to ensure that the device is the same as the last time it started. When the Write Filter is enabled, any changes made are lost when the device restarts. In case an embedded system encounters an issue, you can simply restart the device to reset it.

For details on the Write Filter, see About Write Filters in Windows Embedded on Microsoft.com.

Symantec Endpoint Protection 12.1 has the ability to work with the Write Filter, but requires some changes. See Installing Endpoint Protection 12.1.5 and earlier on Windows Embedded Standard 7 with File Based Write Filter (FBWF).

Before building a system image

If you are going to build an embedded image for redeployment, you need to remove some of the duplicate client identifiers. See Prepare Endpoint Protection clients for cloning

Generic best practices for applying engine and content updates

Point of Sale and other fixed function devices often perform critical functions and one needs use additional care when rolling out updates. Our engineers develop and deploys new security content (malware fingerprints, reputation data, behavioral rules, new heuristics, etc.) to Symantec’s tens of millions of customers, around-the-clock. Using all of this data and intelligence, the Security Response team generates virus definitions and signature content for all of our core security technologies (e.g spyware, adware, viruses, spam, etc). This content is maintained in the cloud-based infrastructure, and, where appropriate, pushed out to our customers computers via our patented LiveUpdate™ technology.Updates happen multiple times a day  and include the latest threat definitions and occasionally new functionality or patches to the engines.

Install only relevant engine updates

The use case and connectivity of the endpoint will determine how frequently one needs to update it with the latest content. For example a publicly accessible kiosk or ATM machine that is subject to physical as well as network based attacks may need to be updated more frequently than a device that sits deep in your network behind multiple layers of security.

Supported operating systems for Symantec Endpoint Protection 14

The Symantec Endpoint Protection Manager and Symantec Endpoint Protection client support the following standard Windows operating systems:

  • Windows 2012 (including R2)
  • Windows 2008 (including R2)
  • Windows 2003
  • Windows 8.1
  • Windows 8
  • Windows 7
  • Windows Vista
  • Windows XP

Symantec Endpoint Protection supports the following Windows embedded operating systems:

  • Windows Embedded Standard (WES) 2009 (32-bit, SP3) (12.1.x only)
  • Windows Embedded POSReady 2009 (32-bit, SP3) (12.1.x only)
  • Windows Embedded Point of Service (WEPOS) (32-bit, SP3) (12.1.x only)
  • Windows Embedded Standard 7 (32-bit and 64-bit)
  • Windows Embedded POSReady 7 (32-bit and 64-bit)
  • Windows Embedded Enterprise 7 (32-bit and 64-bit)
  • Windows Embedded 8 Standard (32-bit and 64-bit)
  • Windows Embedded 8.1 Industry Pro (32-bit and 64-bit)
  • Windows Embedded 8.1 Industry Enterprise (32-bit and 64-bit)

Windows Embedded 8.1 Pro (32-bit and 64-bit) Support for Windows Embedded for Symantec Endpoint Protection, see Support for Windows Embedded for Symantec Endpoint Protection

Legal notice

This Symantec product may contain third-party software for which Symantec is required to provide attribution to the third party (“Third-Party Programs”). Some of the Third-Party Programs are available under open source or free software licenses. The License Agreement accompanying the Software does not alter any rights or obligations you may have under those open source or free software licenses. Please see the Third-Party Legal Notice Appendix to this Documentation or TPIP ReadMe File accompanying this Symantec product for more information on the Third-Party Programs.

The product described in this document is distributed under licenses restricting its use, copying, distribution, and decompilation/reverse engineering. No part of this document may be reproduced in any form by any means without prior written authorization of Symantec Corporation and its licensors, if any.