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Application blocker ensures adherence to company application policy

Sophos : 05 August, 2008  (New Product)
By adding browser blocking to Endpoint Security and Control, Sophos has enabled companies to enforce their policy concerning preferred applications and prevent the unauthorised use of other browsers along with IM, games and other applications
IT security and control firm Sophos has announced that the application control feature of its flagship product, Sophos Endpoint Security and Control, has been extended to give businesses the option to block unauthorised web browsers from company networks.

This feature addition coincides with recent research from Sophos showing that 70 percent of administrators want the ability to block unauthorised web browsers or out-of-date versions of approved browsers*.

'I was very very pleased to see application control in the Sophos line up, said Nick Beagin, administrator at Alleyn's School in London. 'For me it was a constant battle to keep Firefox and Opera off my network, but I have one less worry now. Messenger and other chat application blocking is also a bonus. A manager at another school thought it worked by recognising and blocking the names of applications. When I showed him that you could rename the program, and it would still be blocked by Sophos, he was delighted.'

Browsers which can be blocked by Sophos include Firefox (versions 1-3), Internet Explorer (versions 5-7), Safari, Opera, Netscape and Flock, as well as lesser known internet browsers.

"The 30 percent of administrators who don't consider browser control to be important might want to revisit this issue," said John Stringer, product manager at Sophos. "Employees installing their own browsers and associated tools, like iTunes and BitTorrent, are probably not thinking about security but about personal preferences, while administrators are forced to deal with the associated security and productivity issues. Setting down a policy which controls which web browser and version type employees can use, administrators are simplifying the job of keeping the web secure, particularly important in light of the increased malware activity on the web.'

SophosLabs now identifies one newly infected webpage every five seconds, confirming the web as the primary vector for malware infection. Out-of-date or unpatched browsers, being particularly vulnerable, are driving administrators to demand tighter control over which web browser and version number can be installed on an employee's computer.

As hackers increasingly turn to compromising legitimate websites by inserting malicious code that redirects browsers to sites hosting malware - a well-managed web browser, where vulnerabilities are patched and options are appropriately set, help to preserve the integrity of corporate networks. Phishers too have turned to taking advantage of vulnerabilities and security weaknesses in web browsers to trick users with authentic looking, criminally-motivated replicas - designed to collect sensitive personal and company information which can then be used for financial gain.

Aside from the risks posed by cybercriminals, 'browser wars' have opened up a competitive, fast paced and varied landscape. Beta versions and updates of popular browsers are entering circulation daily, some incorporating media streaming and file sharing capabilities, making it increasingly difficult for administrators to secure endpoints.

Sophos's application control is fully integrated into Sophos Endpoint Security and Control, requiring no further rollout of new software. It gives companies the power to selectively block web browsers, remote connection tools, games, VoIP, peer-to-peer (P2P), Instant Messaging (IM) and distributed computing applications. It is available free-of-charge to all customers.
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