SOPHOS Business-Grade Security for Your Home

Category: Security

The words “anti-virus,” “anti-malware,” and anti-whatever are entirely inadequate these days. Show me a software tool that only sniffs out viruses and I’ll show you an application that deserves the trivializing abbreviation “app.” Read on to learn how Sophos can secure your digital domain…

Does Your Home Computer Need Enterprise Protection?

Today, threats come at us from all directions and in all forms, often combining several “attack vectors” in one payload, or a payload whose first order of nefarious business on your hard drive is to download and install multiple other payloads.

The war of online good vs. evil has expanded, and our vocabulary must expand to describe the battle accurately. That is why I urge you to think in terms of “security suites” only from now on. Effective internet security requires a broad-spectrum arsenal, rather than one-trick-ponies.

The business world is accustomed to taking such a “multi-pronged” approach to network security. IT pros speak their own highly developed language when discussing security, but it is nothing that a layperson of ordinary intellect and genuine concern for security cannot master with a bit of effort. Even if you have just one Internet-connected device in your life, it is worthwhile to make that effort.

Sophos Home Security Software

You may think you have it easy, with a PC that sits still on a desktop and has only one cable running between its modem and your ISP’s equipment somewhere outside. All you have to do is configure your router to watch that single in-and-out door carefully; right? But in reality, there are multiple other ways an attacker can get to your PC, starting from the chair in which you sit before it.

USB devices - from thumb drives to keyboards and mice to printers and point-and-shoot cameras and so on - all have been used to slip payloads right around a watchful router. External hard drives, connected TVs, game consoles, smart light bulbs, and ever more devices routinely touch your PC. Each such device can be a pathway for an invader.

So you see, your home computer can easily be as much a part of a complex business network as a workstation in a stock brokerage, and hackers’ weapons don’t make fine distinctions. They find chinks in the armor and get in. Once inside, these digital invaders make themselves at home, then settle down and wait for instructions… if they don’t go kamikaze right off the bat and start destroying everything they find. Some forms of malware report what they find back to hacker HQ; others operate silently, using your computer as a slave in distributed denial of service attacks.

That may be a long-winded way of saying, “You need business-grade security,” but I hope it drives the point home: you need business-grade security.

SOPHOS Home Security Software

Sophos Home is one of many well-regarded security suites you can try. I've got a list of several others, and some additional tips on security software in my article on Free AntiVirus Programs.

The ancient Greek word sophos means "skilled" or "wise" and is used to describe someone with expertise in a specific domain of knowledge. SOPHOS is a UK-based business security consultancy whose signature security suite, Intercept X, is well-regarded among users and testers of security software. You can peruse the various firewall, endpoint security (desktop PCs), and other business-oriented materials on Sophos’ main site.

For home users, there’s Sophos Home. The same highly rated protections provided to corporate network “endpoints” are also available to home users in Sophos Home. To enumerate them all:

Real-time Antivirus: Classic signature-based detection and removal of known viruses, Trojan horses, worms, ransomware, botnet apps, and more.

Web protection from known malicious sites: Like signature-based antivirus, this feature focuses on defending against sites that have hijacked other users before.

Remote management: An unusual feature even in paid versions of American software. Even the free version of Sophos Home can be used to secure multiple devices wherever they are on the Internet - this is a permanent feature of the free version that does not expire after a 30-day trial.

Advanced Real-time protections: Also known as “heuristic,” “behavior-based,” and other terms that indicate it can spot and stop suspicious activity before an unauthorized program begins to erase, copy and transmit, or otherwise do something bad to or with your data. This feature expires after a free 30-day trial.

Advanced Ransomware Protection: A special case of the above, it stops ransomware before it can encrypt your hard drive. Also subject to 30-day expiration after free trial, although I don’t know how you’re supposed to schedule a ransomware infection during the trial period.

Banking Protection: Protects your banking and credit card information from being intercepted by third-parties and keylogger software. Expires after 3-day trial

Privacy Protection: Blocks attempts to use your webcam or record keystrokes. Expires after 30-day trial

Advanced Malware Removal: Gets rid of stubborn existing infections. Expires after 30-day trial, but who would need it more than once?

Parental Web filtering: Sophos’ implementation is easily understood and endlessly customizable.

Support: Via email and chat. Also expires after 30-day trial.

The annual cost of keeping all the advanced features after a free 30-day trial is $50.00 “SRP” or Suggested Retail Price. I imagine that price falls rapidly the more you say, “No, thanks” to its offer at the end of your trial period. (By the way, that trick often works in other places, both online and in the real world, when you're being asked to pay for something.)

Sophos seems to be a fine addition to anyone’s security suite arsenal. Just remember that running more than one security suite simultaneously can severely slow your computer and lead to crashes. Sophos does a great job during its installation of detecting such conflicts, even disabling Windows Defender for you.

I'll answer your first question about Sophos right here: No, I don't get a commission if you try or buy the Sophos Home software, and they did not ask me to write this review. It's my job to bring things like this to your attention. It's your choice to take it from there.

Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "SOPHOS Business-Grade Security for Your Home"

(See all 23 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

Jay R
06 Apr 2018

I have been using Sophos for some years now. (I really believe it to be your fault. I don't think that I would have every found it because I would never have looked for it.) It has picked up one thing, if I remember correctly. MBAM Premuim (something elso that I can blame on you.) is doing a great job, insofar as I can tell. (I recently got rid of Avast Premium. I think that it was fighting with MBAM and tying up my CPU. So, Windows Deflounder is up and running.) Sophos only runs when I tell it to. And it's time now. Bye.

Posted by:

06 Apr 2018

Went to Sophos site. Entered email address etc. to sign up. Screen said confirmation email was sent. It has not arrived.
The email address was correct. Nothing in junk folder.
Not a good beginning!

Posted by:

Bill Hall
06 Apr 2018

The key word that concerns me is your reference to "known" threats. As new threats are being created all of the time, Sophos appears to be reactionary rather than proactive in protecting computers. That means it is possible to get something by your protection until it is found and prevention created. Someone is then being a "sacrificial lamb".

What protection is available to not be a potential victim?


Posted by:

Daniel W Presley
06 Apr 2018

I use Malwarebytes Premium, Windows Security and SuperAntiSpyware. I have been running this combination for about two years. Malwarebytes and Windows Security are always running active-no confliction. SuperAntiSpyware is on but static. I run it as needed. I have no trouble of any-kind. My computer is clean of any Spyware, Virus, Malware, etc.

Posted by:

06 Apr 2018

The confirmation email arrived after about 10 minutes. I clicked the confirm link. It was accepted. Returned to their web site to login. Password not accepted! It was the correct password. I clicked the forgot password item. Received and email almost immediately to reset password.
I reset it and it was accepted. Tried to login. INCORRECT PASSWORD! I am not a computer novice! These are not my errors! How good is Sophos if the sign up/ login process does this to potential clients? Obviously, I am not impressed.

Posted by:

Frank Foster
06 Apr 2018

I have avast premium and malwarebyte pemium. Is Sophos a better option?

Posted by:

06 Apr 2018

Been using PCMatic for three years with no apparent problems. Was using MBAM before that.

Posted by:

06 Apr 2018

I have used McAfee Suite for free several years and it was very good. Switched today to Sophos Premium and like it very much. Got rid of 600 non-essential items I have never been able to access for removal. Computer seems to boot faster. Plus I can still install this program on 9 more systems. Thank you. Oh yes, and the price will drop to $40 next year.

Posted by:

06 Apr 2018

Not sure about this program but I dislike installing anything that disables another program. They should provide an option: "Do you want to disable xyz"? It should be my choice, not theirs.

Posted by:

Jay R
06 Apr 2018

It is Sophos VRT that I use. (Virus Removal Tool.) I updated it and ran a scan. It finished after more than four hours. The PC was clean. I am not sure that I want to dump MBAM since it is already paid for and appears to be doing a great job.

In response to bobrice, I can appreciate your point of view. I think that in the realm of real time protection programs, I am OK with the idea of disabling other programs that will directly conflict with it. If you like, I would be OK with a BDOD (Blue Dialogbox of Death) saying that "ExtremePrejudiceForTheVirus" is not a good playmate for Sophos. Would you like to disable it?

Posted by:

06 Apr 2018

I think application whitelisting is the way to go nowadays. Whitelisting questions everything that runs on your computer, while traditional antivirus software (blacklisting) compares files in your computer to known virus signatures. The problem with blacklisting is there is so much malware that a signature based approach just can't keep up. Every time one signature is added to the antivirus program, 10 new variants of that virus are running amok undetected.

Posted by:

06 Apr 2018

An auto image a day will keep the tears away. :-)

Posted by:

06 Apr 2018

I've been using Sophos Home for a few years and like it very much. Never knew there were paid features and options!

Posted by:

06 Apr 2018

Great article, Bob. I wished that I had remembered SOPHOS when I was looking to replace my Avast Premium. Avast was getting to expensive and was taking up a lot of resources. Plus, I did not like Avast trying to get me to buy more stuff from them. This aspect only started within the past year or two, when I still had premium coverage.

I tried out a couple of different anti-virus/anti-malware programs and finally decided on Bitdefender Total Security. I have known for several years that Bitdefender had excellent scores from the A-V Testing. I was also able to get an excellent price for 5 devices and for 5 years. It is hard to find multiple year options and with a good discount.

So far, I am very pleased with Bitdefender. It takes very little resources and is quite easy to set up. If, you have issues with installing programs on your PC or Laptop, Bitdefender will do that for you. I don't recall any other AV program offering that service. . .Yes, there is a fee for that service, $39.99 for 1 session. I didn't opt for that service.

I have been installing my own programs, right from the start of using a PC, back in Sept. 1996. It doesn't seem that long ago, but it has been. Heavens, I have been reading Bob's newsletters since 1997, when it was called The Internet Tourbus. I have found most often that Bob is right with his suggestions. Some of them have not worked out for me, but I did try them. }:O)

Posted by:

07 Apr 2018

I also use "PC Matic"? I have been using it for a couple of years and no problems.

Posted by:

07 Apr 2018

A number of years I tried Sophos as it was recommended as being able to let me know when programs needed updating and then would proceed to update the programs.... Then Sophos quit working. I got different *error* msgs and deleted it. Avast is doing a fine job of helping me supplement my updates. (Some programs let me know an update is needed.) If this Sophos is the same as Sophos-Home, then "Thanks for the info...but No Thanks to Sophos-Home.)

Posted by:

07 Apr 2018

This will be my last comment. I am a retired educator. I have no affiliation with any Sophos competitors. I am not a computer novice. I have been using Apple Computers since the 1980's. I have used Windows devices as well. Sophos might offer a better experience on Windows devices. I cannot report on that since I do not have one on which I could install Sophos.

My Sophos experience on my main Mac started poorly with sign up and login problems. Then then the installer would not download no matter how many times the download button was clicked. I had to use an "incognito window" in Chrome to download it. Another browser such as Safari or Firefox should work. After downloading the installer ZIP file I opened the installer program which promptly displayed a window indicating the software could not be installed! I checked all of the requirements and my Mac qualifies.

Anyone considering the Sophos product should know that the 30 day trial period at the "Premium" level starts the moment an account is created, not immediately after installation of the software. Therefore, I suggest that to maximize the benefits of the trial period, one should not create an account unless ready to install the software immediately. After 30 days the software loses its "Premium" status. Several of its features are then turned off. Anti-malware is one of them! The software then works on a maximum of 3 computers rather than 10.

Based on all of the above Sophos is not a product that I will use.

Posted by:

07 Apr 2018

I have been using Malware Bytes Premium for some time. The results have been very good (no infections or issues). They also offer a suite of 4 premium tools to give you a broad coverage. I was able to buy the package for 3 or 5 computers at a very reasonable price. Malware Bytes Premium has been a solid solution in my experience. I'd suggest checking them out and determining if it works for your needs.

Posted by:

Steven Horn
08 Apr 2018

Bob, I am surprised that you are pushing Sophos at the expense of other security software even though there are many other good programs out there. I have used Webroot's SecureAnywhere for years and have no complaints. I also have a "clean" computer.

Posted by:

08 Apr 2018

This seemed like a good idea, so in order to prepare I deleted AVG (free). Had some problems getting the email in order to start download, but install went well.

After download the monitor attached to the laptop it is installed on does not work.

Started a chat with support and after some time the problem was resolved. (Great support)

This laptop controls several other computer displays using Mutliplicity by Stardock (Great Program) and I noticed that when typing into those other displays all was gibberish.

Back to support only to learn that there was no solution and I was going to have to uninstall. That all took several hours and resulted in reinstalling AVG which I have used for years without any major problems.

Note to self: If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

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