Sophos Anti-Virus Business review
OS Support: Windows XP SP2, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1, Minimum CPU: Not stated, Minimum GPU: N/A, Minimum RAM: 512MB, Hard disk space: 500MB
Sophos Anti-Virus used to be a complete nightmare to; this year Sophos has bowed to the pressure from smaller businesses, many of whom don't even have onsite servers, to create a public Cloud security offering, allowing you to keep track of your employees' security status from a slick, web-based interface.
The old version is still available for businesses using on-site infrastructure, but for this test we're evaluating the Cloud option. Actual endpoint protection scores aren't affected by this backend choice, as it's the client software installed on each work PC that does the actual work of protecting the system from threats.
Setting up the Cloud portion of the service couldn't be easier: you simply sign up either for a free trial or buy a set of licences, and access to the Cloud interface is granted. Simply download and install the Endpoint software to your local computers and they will appear in the Cloud interface and can be managed remotely.
The main dashboard area of the Cloud service is inviting, with coloured circles letting you know what's going on with the PCs in your work group. There's also a fear mongering graph on the bottom right that, when we were testing, told us that the global malware threat level was "High", adding that there was a "strong likelihood of vulnerable systems being exploited by active attacks". We'd be surprised if there'd been a time in the last decade where that statement hasn't been true. Still, the graph does also reveal the discovery of malware throughout the day and also provides news updates from the world of security, which is quite interesting at a glance.
^ You can keep track of every security event that takes place on your network with Sophos Cloud
The rest of the web interface is surprisingly easy to use and makes the web management console provided by McAfee SaaS look dated by comparison. It's simple to apply different policies to groups and devices, changing the security settings of each so you know that each person has the correct permissions for their own role. Settings include changing how Sophos handles untrustworthy files, how it reacts to the insertion of removable storage and can also be configured to block certain websites. You'll have to add a list of web filters manually, though, because there are no pre-built lists of malicious websites to get you started. There are also settings for smartphones and tablets running iOS and Android, which you can lock down if you feel the need to.
It's an intuitive design, which we believe less experienced administrators should be able to get to grips with.
^ The Sophos Endpoint clientside software looks a little dated when compared to the Cloud admin interface
A great interface is nothing if the underlying protection is flawed, but Sophos scored reasonably well in our tests. It defended against 85 threats outright, with a further eight making it on to our test machine before being neutralised. We were a little concerned to see that seven pieces of malware were able to unleash their payload unabated, though. This gives Sophos an overall protection rating of 228, some way behind the top small business products.
Sophos Anti-Virus Business is one of the best-designed and simplest small business suites we've had on test. We'd still pick Symantec Endpoint Protection Small Business Edition over this, due to its better level of protection.