Sophos expands hardware lineup

Sophos PLC known largely for its anti-virus software, has increased its hardware lineup with the release of a second appliance.

The WS1000 Web security appliance combines application control and URL filtering in a 1U rack-mounted unit powered by an Intel dual core processor that has earned the enthusiasm at least one Canadian partner.

Steven Burns, president of Bulletproof Solutions of Fredericton, N.B., said the WS1000’s closest competition is a device made by Barracuda Networks, but “this hits Barracuda right in the forehead.”

According to Ron O’Brien, Sophos’ senior security analyst, the WS1000 follows the company’s 2003 $23 million acquisition of Vancouver’s ActiveState, an enterprise software developer, which lead to the creation last April of the Sophos ES4000 e-mail security appliance.

“We’ve now taken our prowess in threat detection and prevention and applied it to a Web security appliance,” he said.

While spam and e-mail viruses are still a threat to organization, the way they are sent over the Internet has changed, he said. Now malware creators send e-mail links to malicious Web sites or attach them to Internet chat messages, which can allow threats to be brought in past the firewall.

Most network administrators use software tools such as to block such intrusions, but Sophos and other companies believe their work can be automated and done faster through an appliance.

The WS1000 can be installed in-line and, through an onboard database linked to Sophos, can detect malware signatures, blocks malicious hosts as well as identifies infected machines behind the firewall. It can also control incoming streaming media.

Its management software breaks down threats into three categories: known (which are blocked), new (transitory Web sites that have malicious code) and unknown (sites with code labeled as suspicious through behaviour analysis). Through a console administrators can set policies for sites users can or cannot contact, deciding whether a site is a high/medium/low threat or trusted. For their part, users can send a message to the administrator objecting to a site’s classification. The console includes a search tool to help comb these messages. It also reports Web traffic statistics.

The Linux-based appliance runs on the Sophos single-pass anti-virus software engine, and includes two 160Gb SATA hard drives for database storage. It also includes a Network bypass card with shared configuration failover capability

The WS1000 is priced by the number of users. Prices range from US$5,400 for up to 500 users a year to US$8,000 for up to 1,000 users.

Burns will target the appliance to medium and large organizations Bulletproof Solutions sells to throughout Atlantic Canada. The company has offices in Moncton, N.B., St. John, N.S. and Charlottetown, P.E.I.

“The big thing it will allow us to do is compete in a market that doesn’t have a lot of competitors, and at a very low price point,” he said.

Sophos also said it is improving its partner program by changing the names of the levels (they now called enterprise partners, certified partners and authorized resellers) and

increasing joint business development, lead generation and marketing opportunities with its top channel partners.

There are an estimated 150 partners here, with about 10 of them at the enterprise level.

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@]

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