Anti-Spam, Anti-Virus Software is 'Greek to Me'

By Patricia Fusco | Posted April 19, 2004

Last year, an average of seven new PC security vulnerabilities were identified every day. A recent survey of nearly 4,000 small- to medium-sized businesses revealed that 80 percent believe that the current flood of spam makes people less productive at work. However, the same study concluded that only 28 of these small businesses currently have an anti-spam solution in place.

To avoid the scourge of spam and plagues of viruses, small businesses need a simple, robust solution that is predisposed toward being easily managed and maintained. Small businesses need a partner — they need an accomplished specialist on staff to help stem the flow of unwanted, virus-ridden e-mail messages. Unfortunately, few small businesses can afford to have such IT expertise on staff — until today.

The Sophos Solution
Sophos, a world leader in protecting businesses against viruses and spam since the 1980's, today unveiled its new range of small business solutions designed to meet the special security needs of companies with fewer than 100 employees. The Sophos solution can provide even the smallest business with anti-spam and anti-virus software that is easy to install, use and update.

Chris Kraft, Sophos senior security analyst, said the company's new repertoire of anti-virus and anti-spam software is officially ready for prime-time small-business use.

"We offer a strong complement of anti-spam and anti-virus technologies that small businesses are able to use," Kraft said. "Sophos is well-known internationally for our anti-virus software, but in North America we're not as well known. We need to change that as small-business demand for anti-virus and anti-spam solutions heats up."

Currently, Sophos owns about five percent of the U.S. anti-virus desktop software market. The company faces some tough competition in the space — namely, Symantec and McAfee. However, Kraft insists that Sophos offers a compelling alternative to anti-virus and anti-spam software that is made more for consumers than businesses.

"The technology has been rebuilt from our experience in securing enterprise-class networks. We've retooled our products to make it easy for small businesses to use them. This is not like consumer-oriented PC security offerings that are sold as adequate protection for small businesses," Kraft said. "Our control center manages blanket protection for small businesses. It is able to automatically discover most elements of a Windows or Macintosh network and push anti-virus and anti-spam protection and updates down to desktops."

How it Works
Sophos has taken its PureMessage product, which has been serving the enterprise market for many years, and created the new Sophos Small Business Suite. The Sophos Small Business Suite provides full protection against today's virus and spam threats at all points of entry — virus and spam protection for the e-mail gateway and a comprehensive desktop and server defense system against e-mail viruses.

"We took our four core values — multi-tier anti-spam and anti-virus defense, e-mail gateway to-the-desktop protection, robust policy enforcement and centralized administration — and made it simple for small businesses to install and maintain, as well as easy to evaluate and purchase," Kraft said.

Kraft said small businesses rarely have dedicated IT staff that can devote time to worrying about the latest mass-mailing virus threat or deal with large quantities of spam.

"Our small business software suite has to meet a specific set of requirements to make it easy for small businesses to deploy and manage," Kraft said. "We made it more of a next-next-next-type of installation process and included a lot of self-discovery features so small businesses can basically set it and forget it — knowing their network and PCs are secure."

Kraft added that Sophos' key values for small businesses include time-to-protection and flexibility.

"We're able to push protection down to the desktop in a secure fashion. This is critical for small business with limited IT staff," Kraft said. "Then there are the platforms that we support — we offer a broader expanse of platforms than other security software vendors. Small businesses typically have Windows or maybe a few Macs running, but as they grow, we can help them secure more operating systems. We offer 23 different platforms now. This type of blanket protection for different operating systems is something our competitors don't necessarily provide."

The Sophos Small Business Edition addresses the need for network security by automatically downloading the latest virus and spam protection. By filtering e-mail at the Exchange or SMTP gateway (define), neither end-users nor administrators need to deal with unwanted e-mail, and the network runs more efficiently as it no longer has to process the trash.

All of Sophos's small business products are automatically kept updated via the Internet, providing hands-off operation. Virus and new spam identification methods are delivered from Sophos's worldwide labs for automatic updating. Individual remote users can choose to update either from their company network or directly from Sophos, while for those connecting to the Internet via a modem, updates can be checked on detection of a dial-up connection.

"Small businesses need software that is simple and intuitive, easy to install and maintain, and competitively priced," Kraft said. "We have an excellent track record at protecting large companies with industrial strength protection against viruses and spam. Now we can extend the same protection to small businesses with the Sophos Small Business Suite."

Pricing and Availability
The Small Business Suite is available exclusively from Sophos channel partners — there are about 4,600 channel partners located around the world — 1,200 channel partners in North America. Separate anti-virus-only and anti-spam-only solutions are also available, but the greatest value resides the software bundles ability to protect an entire small business network via the Sophos Small Business Suite

Pricing for the Sophos Small Business Suite, available on an annual basis, starts at $445 for five seats — that's $89 per user per year — about .25-cents per employee per day. Additional incremental licenses are available. For example 50 seats will run $2,750 annually and 100 seats costs $5,130 annually. Sophos provides most of the end user support directly to small businesses. Kraft said those that know Sophos well also know the company has a reputation for providing an extremely high-level of customer satisfaction.

"We are going to ensure that this level of service is provided to small businesses," Kraft said. "We do allow some channel partners that have set an established service standard record to provide support, too. But support is not required to become a channel partner. We like to know that our all of our customers are satisfied with our products."

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!

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