Feeds

Sophos defends its block on alien hunters

SETI@Home domesticated

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

UK anti-virus firm Sophos has defended itself after sparking a controversy with its decision to allow sysadmins to block distributing computing programs such as SETI@Home.

The firm has extended the optional application control feature of Sophos Anti-Virus, Version 6 to allow enterprises to restrict the use of distributed control programs as well as VoIP software and P2P apps within large organisations.

A survey conducted by Sophos found that 89.3 per cent of 460 respondents wanted to control usage of distributing computing programs such as SETI@Home and the BBC's Climate Change Experiment on their networks.

Both applications use unused networked computing resources for complex number-crunching, and involve the receipt and transmission of information to and from third parties. The SETI@Home project analyses radio telescope data in the search for extra terrestrial intelligence while the BBC's climate change application uses much the same process to look for evidence of climate change.

Reg reader Simon questions these figures in arguing that it was sysadmins themselves who put these applications on their network. However, Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos, responded that Sophos's optional feature blocked SETI@Home at work and then only if a sysadmin decides that the program is unathorised.

"IT admins have a tough enough job already and it should be up to them to decide what runs on their networks," he said. "We're not saying these distributing computing programs are bad or classifying them as malware, indeed some of them feature cool technology. However, it should be up to the person who runs a network to decide what runs on it and to restrict this to authorised applications."

Cluley said unauthorised applications can affect network performance. "The technology may be perfectly legitimate in the home, but businesses want more control over what runs in their corporate environment. 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," he added.

Looking ahead, Sophos is considering extending its application control feature to give the option to restrict staff use of online gaming in the workplace, a move that moves the software further into the employee management market that's traditionally been the domain of firms such as WebSense. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Regin: The super-spyware the security industry has been silent about
NSA fingered as likely source of complex malware family
Why did it take antivirus giants YEARS to drill into super-scary Regin? Symantec responds...
FYI this isn't just going to target Windows, Linux and OS X fans
Privacy bods offer GOV SPY VICTIMS a FREE SPYWARE SNIFFER
Looks for gov malware that evades most antivirus
Home Office: Fancy flogging us some SECRET SPY GEAR?
If you do, tell NOBODY what it's for or how it works
HACKERS can DELETE SURVEILLANCE DVRS remotely – report
Hikvision devices wide open to hacking, claim securobods
'Regin': The 'New Stuxnet' spook-grade SOFTWARE WEAPON described
'A degree of technical competence rarely seen'
Syrian Electronic Army in news site 'hack' POP-UP MAYHEM
Gigya redirect exploit blamed for pop-rageous ploy
Astro-boffins start opening universe simulation data
Got a supercomputer? Want to simulate a universe? Here you go
prev story

Whitepapers

10 ways wire data helps conquer IT complexity
IT teams can automatically detect problems across the IT environment, spot data theft, select unique pieces of transaction payloads to send to a data source, and more.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.