Sophos brings free NAC to the desktop

Security vendor Sophos has thrown down a gauntlet of sorts to its rivals, by bundling basic network access control (NAC) with its enterprise anti-virus client for the first time.

Sophos already has a wide range of security functions in its all-purpose security client — anti-malware, firewalling, and some application filtering — but with the launch of Sophos Endpoint Security and Control 8.0 it has added capabilities that can tie down ‘endpoints’, as they are known in security jargon, to a new degree of sophistication.

Putting NAC into software once thought of as a barrier to security threats such as viruses is a new, if predicted, departure. For managed PCs, the free upgrade will let admins constantly assess the state of patching and the software health of a machine against company defined policies, blocking access if necessary. Visiting or ‘alien’ laptops from third parties can be blocked until a downloadable web-based agent has been run.

According to Sophos, most admins still have little idea what state a PC or laptop might be in at the point it connects to a network, and no way at all of assessing the laptops of third-party partners and contractors.

For those requiring more finely tuned control, the company is planning a separate product, Sophos NAC Advanced. This will do much the same job as Endpoint Security and Control as regards policy enforcement, but to an advanced level of refinement. Specific pricing wasn’t available for this upgrade, but is was described as being in the order of around “30 per cent” extra on top of buying a licence for the all-in-one client.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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