Pitt switches to new antivirus system; computers will need to be updated

Employees using University-owned computers are being asked to switch to a new antivirus software package by June 13, after Pitt Information Technology announced it is adopting Microsoft Defender ATP as of June 5.

The switch is being made because of an unexpected and significant increase in licensing fees for the current provider, Symantec Endpoint Protection, according to an email message from Mark Henderson, Pitt’s chief information officer.

“We consider Defender to be an excellent product that provides protection equal to or greater than the protection afforded by Symantec’s software, at substantial cost savings, as part of the University’s Microsoft Campus Agreement,” Henderson said.

Because Symantec will stop providing virus definitions and security updates after the University’s license expires on June 13 — and other antivirus software may not function properly with Symantec installed — Symantec should be removed and replaced whenever possible on all University-owned workstation. 

  • If you work in a department that has dedicated IT support staff and your University-owned device has Symantec installed, Pitt IT and/or your department’s IT support staff will remove it and install Defender. They will let you know if you need to take any action.

  • If your department does not have dedicated IT support staff, please follow these instructions for the removal of Symantec and activation of Defender on University-owned devices.

Please also follow these step-by-step instructions to remove Pitt-licensed Symantec software and install an alternative antivirus program on your personal devices.

This is an important step in protecting PittNet (the network that provides access to University computing resources, the internet and external research networks) and your personal data against cyberthreats, Henderson said. Defender provides excellent risk management, detection, response and remediation that is integrated with Windows 10 and optimized for Office 365 desktop/cloud apps.

For maximum protection, Pitt IT recommends using Defender for traditional antivirus, combined with Malwarebytes’ anti-exploit system to guard against ransomware and zero-day attacks. Malwarebytes is available at no cost to students, faculty and staff through Pitt IT’s Software Download Service.

For additional help, contact the 24/7 IT Help Desk at 412-624-HELP (4357).