MacDirectory Magazine

Winter-Spring 2010 (#44)

MacDirectory magazine is the premiere creative lifestyle magazine for Apple enthusiasts featuring interviews, in-depth tech reviews, Apple news, insights, latest Apple patents, apps, market analysis, entertainment and more.

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REVIEW 108 MacDirectory Few Mac users worry about viruses, yet this complacency leaves us open to the very real threat of malware. All it takes is to click on a "close" button on a suspicious popup or a "play" button on some video streaming site and within a few hours the contents of your hard drive is sitting on some crook's server while another critter waits for you reveal your credit card information during your next online purchase. A serious threat requires a serious solution. Considering the popularity of running Windows on a Mac, and keeping small businesses in mind, we searched for a security solution that would be comprehensive, cross-platform, and that would offer device control, email protection, encryption, in addition to a full range of malware and virus protection. What we found was Sophos Security Suite, Small Business Edition. Features Sophos has three small business offerings: a basic antivirus application, a full-featured package for workgroups of up to 100 clients, and a similar suite that also supports networks running MS Exchange. For our purposes, we selected the Sophos Computer Security package, which costs $247 for a five-client one-year subscription. For a detailed description of the features, technologies, and capabilities of this package, go to . Suffice it to say that the SCS package offers all of the above capabilities plus many more, a few examples including the protection for mobile devices, threats from instant messaging, VoIP, and remote administration, as well as secure sharing, secure deletion, and the ability to sniff out as-yet unknown viruses. The heart of the package is the Windows- only administration application, Sophos Control Center, which can be run on a Mac using a Windows partition. All administration, including permissions, updates, scans, etc., is handled via the Control Center, yet clients can also initiate scans and updates on their own if desired Other than the Windows admin requirement, the only platform issue is that Mac clients must be installed locally rather than remotely. Hands-On In our tests we used a range of systems that included a Macbook, graphite G4, a G4 iBook, a Lenovo Thinkpad, and an 8- core Nehalem Mac Pro with a VMWare Fusion Windows partition for the control center. The PCs were running XP SP3 and the Macs were running OS X 10.3, 10.4, 10.5 and 10.6. All we needed to do was download the software and run the installer. From that point we could have simply followed the manual, but we decided to place a call to Sophos tech support and see what they could do. Thanks to Sophos' LogMeIn-based remote access system, the support person logged onto our Mac systems and did all the Mac and Windows setup work for us, including the installs of Sophos clients and the configuring of the Windows host. The technician also set up a NAT bridge within Fusion that allowed the control center to administer the Sophos client on the Mac partition. It should be noted that Sophos 24/7 phone support is among the best we have ever seen. The tech staff is patient, personable, and their level of expertise is impressive. All machines were set up and running in no time and the control center immediately set to work, updating itself and its clients, and triggering remote scans. Within minutes it diagnosed and killed a very nasty little bit of malware on the Mac Pro. We had tried and compared a number popular anti-malware applications out there and not only were they unable to detect this particular threat (an item that has been described in various blogs and forums), but their tech support people had never even heard of the malware in question. In a real world situation this one incident would have been enough to pay for the one-year five-seat license all by itself. Conclusions While Sophos may not be a familiar name to most Mac users, it is a name that one should keep in mind. The threats out there are far greater than most people know and it is no longer possible to rely on antivirus apps alone. Of the solutions we tested, only Sophos was able to detect, isolate and kill the threat that we encountered. It is a powerful, expansive, cross-platform solution that covers all the bases, and is backed by an excellent round-the-clock telephone support system. Product Sophos small business solutions 4 Made by Sophos Price $247 / 5-year, 5-seat license Pros Comprehensive; amazing tech support Cons Somewhat daunting for technophobes Rating ★★★★★ SOPHOS SECURITY SUITE, SMALL BUSINESS EDITION WORDS BY TREY YANCY

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