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10 Nov 2005

Sophos joins forces with Internet Watch Foundation to fight illegal net content

Sophos will work closely with the IWF to combat internet child abuse, and criminally obscene and racist content.

Sophos, a world leader in protecting businesses against viruses, Trojans, spyware and spam, has today announced its membership of the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), the authorized UK organisation that combats illegal internet content.

As the number of computer users continues to rise, so does the variance and quantity of online content available to them. The experts at Sophos work closely with the IWF to combat the increasing threats present on the net, in particular images of child abuse and criminally obscene and racist content.

SophosLabs™, Sophos's global network of threat analysis centers, detects a vast quantity of spam containing illicit material, and shares details of this with IWF. In addition, IWF will now provide Sophos with lists of known illegal websites, many of which send out obscene spam, enabling the company to report back to IWF, while better protecting customers.

"We see it as our social duty to do all we can to prevent unsuspecting users from opening the disturbing material that spammers are wilfully churning out," said Mark Harris, global director of SophosLabs "We already advise the IWF of data on criminal spam and websites we encounter, so joining the organisation seemed the next logical step in our committed fight against the presence of offensive online content."

"We are delighted that Sophos has chosen to join the IWF," said Peter Robbins, CEO, IWF "If we are to eradicate illegal content online, we need to attack these criminals from all angles, and preventing spam from filtering through to users' computers plays a vital role in this clampdown."

About the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF)

The IWF is the only authorized organisation in the UK which provides an internet 'hotline' for the public to report their exposure to illegal content online.

The IWF aims to minimize the availability of potentially illegal internet content, specifically;

  • child abuse images hosted anywhere in the world
  • criminally obscene content hosted in the UK
  • criminally racist content hosted in the UK

The IWF works in partnership with UK Government Departments such as the Home Office and the Department of Trade and Industry to influence initiatives and programmes developed to combat online abuse. This dialogue goes beyond the UK and Europe, to ensure greater awareness of global issues and responsibilities.

The IWF are funded by the EU and the UK internet industry including Internet Service Providers (ISPs), Mobile Operators & manufacturers, Content Service Providers (CSPs) and telecommunications & software companies.

Through the hotline reporting system, the IWF helps ISPs to combat abuse of their services by operating a 'notice and take down' service which alerts them to any illegal content found on their system and the IWF assesses material reported and passes on any relevant details to Law Enforcement Agencies

As a result, the amount of illegal content hosted in the UK has been reduced from 18% in 1997 to less than 1% in 2004.

As the number of people using the internet and the diversity of content available continues to grow, the mechanisms of dealing with illegal content must be better known and understood

In partnership with many organizations, the foundation strives to create continued awareness of the role and purpose of the IWF and aims to foster trust and reassurance in the internet for current and future users

Tel: +44 (0) 1223 237 700

About Sophos

More than 100 million users in 150 countries rely on Sophos as the best protection against complex threats and data loss. Sophos is committed to providing complete security solutions that are simple to deploy, manage, and use and that deliver the industry's lowest total cost of ownership. Sophos offers award-winning encryption, endpoint security, web, email, mobile and network security solutions backed by SophosLabs - a global network of threat intelligence centers.

Sophos is headquartered in Boston, US and Oxford, UK. More information is available at