Sophos Offers Free Android Anti-Virus App; Upsell To Management Platform

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The latest vendor offering to support security for android smartphones and tablets also focuses on a channel upsale opportunity to support mobile device management from a single console. This strategy comes from Sophos, a Boston-based security company that has just rolled out a free, lightweight anti-virus app that protects Android devices against malware, privacy issues and hardware loss.

Sophos Mobile Security is now available as a free download from Google Play and has three primary functionalities, according to company Product Manager Payal Mehrotra.

"The first is the scanning functionality that enables our software to scan all of your applications, as well as scan new applications and updates before they are even installed," she said. "The second feature is [data] loss and threat protection. If the device is lost or stolen, you can send a command from another device to lock the phone and locate it. You just need to program as many as five other phones with this capability before it is lost. The third feature is a privacy advisor that informs end users about apps on their phone that might be sending SMS messages, or secretly transmitting data."

[Related: Sophos Updates Partner Program]

The technology is backed by security intelligence from SophosLabs, the company’s global network of threat intelligence centers. According to a survey of 900 readers of the Sophos blog, nearly 40 percent of the respondents use a smartphone running Android. Meanwhile, research from a number of other organizations reports that attacks on the Android platform have more than doubled over the last two years.

"Androids are especially vulnerable to attack because it is an open platform," commented Mehrotra. "Anyone can open up the platform and add all kinds of malicious code. Google does not have a process for thoroughly examining how the platform is used. It's part of their business model. In some respects, it helps to stimulate new applications, but on the other hand, it opens vulnerabilities."

Mehrotra added that the entire Sophos product line is sold through the channel. And while Sophos Mobile Security is available as a free download, the company is telling channel partners that one of the most logical upsale paths involves "Sophos Mobile Control," a mobile device management platform from which all three products in their mobile portfolio, including Sophos Mobile Control, can be managed from a single platform.

"We are hoping that the channel will promote the free tool and use this as a means of opening the door to our other products," she said.

Later this year, Sophos plans to offer a managed Enterprise version of Sophos Mobile Security with enhanced functionalities, such as a security advisor and remote wiping capabilities. The expanded version will target corporate users in need of higher levels of protection for enterprise devices and sensitive data. These capabilities are expected to become available in the September timeframe.


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