Sophos extends application control to block distributed computing programs

October 26, 2006 Sophos Press Release

Sophos, a world leader in IT security, has given companies the ability to control employees' use of distributed computing applications on corporate networks, following concerns that these programs can affect network performance. Such programs include SETI@Home and the BBC Climate Change Experiment.

A survey conducted by Sophos reflects the concern that distributed computing applications are causing system administrators. 89.3 percent of respondents said they want to control usage of such programs on their networks.

SETI@Home (a scientific experiment which uses millions of computers around the world to analyze radio telescope data in the search for extra terrestrial intelligence) and the BBC Climate Change Experiment (which studies global warming) are just two of the applications that businesses can now set a usage policy for in the workplace. The programs use networked computing resources which are not in use, for complex data-crunching, and involve the receipt and transmission of information to and from third parties.

"IT staff simply don't want their PCs being used in the hunt for small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri, and other distributed computing activities. This is not only because it may be wasting bandwidth and CPU time, but because they want greater control over the data that is leaving their organization and what programs their users are installing and running," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "Distributed computing is undoubtedly a cool technology with real scientific value, but nine out of ten businesses want to enforce policies and block use of these sort of programs on their company networks. The technology may be perfectly legitimate in the home, but businesses want more control over what runs in their corporate environment."

Source: Sophos online poll, 460 respondents, September 2006

Sophos Anti-Virus + Application Control has proven highly popular with Sophos's customers, particularly as the new technology can be used by businesses without having to install any new software or learn how to use a new management console. Customers who have signed up for the service are already benefiting from detection of unauthorized VoIP, peer-to-peer (P2P), Instant Messaging (IM) and other applications that can present risks to company data and networks.

"Sophos Application Control is allowing me to block users from running unauthorized instant messaging and peer-to-peer programs without having to roll out any new security software. It's a simple and effective solution to a complicated problem," said Dave Marsh of the Information Security & Compliance Team at H.J. Heinz. "Controlling what my users can run helps to prevent so many risks including data leakage, bandwidth hogging and helps enforce compliance to company security standards."

Application Control is an optional feature of Sophos Anti-Virus, version 6, available to both new and existing customers at no extra cost.