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Sophos Debuts Intercept X For Mobile To Safeguard Chromebooks

As students increasingly bring the Chromebooks home and connect to the internet outside of the school network, Schiappa said educational institutions must also ensure the devices are protected on the edge.

Sophos will for the first time protect Chrome OS uses against unsuitable and malicious web content with its rebranded Intercept X for Mobile offering.

The Oxford, U.K.-based platform security vendor said the new mobile security capabilities will address the huge explosion of Chromebooks in the education space as well as its breaking into the health care and general corporate space as the devices move upmarket and become more feature-rich, according to Chief Product Officer Dan Schiappa.

“The [Chromebook] devices are getting much more prevalent and much more capable,” Schiappa told CRN. “We [now] in a meaningful way protect pretty much have every compute platform we expect an enterprise to have.”

[Related: 10 Things To Know About The Planned $3.82 Billion Thoma Bravo-Sophos Deal]

In the early days, Schiappa said Chromebooks were primarily used only on educational campuses, meaning that firewall protection was sufficient to block malicious URLs and web sites. But as students increasingly bring the Chromebooks home and connect to the internet outside of the school network, Schiappa said educational institutions must also ensure that Chromebooks are protected on the edge.

By adding training for Intercept X’s machine-learning models and further extracting features for Android and Chrome OS devices, Schiappa said Sophos has been able to vastly improve its catch rate for malicious applications. Chrome OS users will also benefit from Intercept X for Mobile’s tie-ins with Sophos Unified Endpoint Management as well as Microsoft Intune, Schiappa said.

Schiappa said Intercept X for Mobile can now determine apps installed by students or teachers on Chrome OS devices have malicious intent or operate unethically such as “fleeceware,” which Schiappa said tricks people into signing up for unwanted services or overcharges them.

“They always try to work around or within their boundaries to execute their malware,” Schiappa said.

Fleeceware excels at exploiting loopholes in the rules of Apple’s App Store or Google Play to evade detection but behave in an unethical or deceptive manner, according to Schiappa. Adversaries are increasingly going after users on mobile devices due to many enterprises having insufficient protections in place.

“Don’t secure the PC-based platforms and forget about mobile,” Schiappa said. “I’ve been screaming from the highest mountains that people need to worry about it.”

Intercept X for Mobile scours App Store libraries to identify malicious activity, Schiappa said, looking for apps that have been side-loaded onto a mobile device or smartphones that have been jailbroken to install an application. As hackers adapt new techniques in the mobile space to evade detection, he said Sophos is employing machine learning to identify things the company has never seen before.

Too many organizations overlook securing employee-owned devices, which can introduce significant risk into an organization since no device is off limits to an attacker, according to Scott Larson, owner of Technology By Design. Larson said Intercept X for Mobile will help the Minneapolis-based solution provider protect customers from the most sophisticated and advanced threats.

“Intercept X for Mobile provides the best-in-class protection needed to secure personal and company-issued devices in today’s rapidly evolving threat landscape,” Larson said in a statement. “It’s a must-have, non-intrusive solution that strengthens any organization’s defenses.”

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