New Sophos service updates virus files online

British antivirus software vendor Sophos PLC is establishing an automated online service to update virus signature files.

Users can schedule automatic updates from the Sophos server as often as eight times a day, or on request. 'It's more of a pull technology than a push,' Sophos technology consultant Chris Wraight said. The company's federal customers include the White House, the CIA and Fort Meade, Md., home of the National Security Agency.

For 13 years Sophos has sent out monthly CD-ROMs for manual updating of virus signatures.
'We are extremely paranoid about viruses and data security,' Wraight said. 'Manufacturing the CD was a way to guarantee it was virusfree.'

David Hughes, president of Sophos' U.S. operations, said the company had shied away from automated updates 'because that means the customer is outsourcing what is put on servers.' But he said the demand is growing, and 'I think we have built a measure of trust among our users.'

If demand is sufficient, the hosting could spread from London to sites in North America and the Asia-Pacific region. Updates will be downloaded to a central installation directory on a user's server. From there the administrator can direct the installation on client machines.

The company will continue to produce the monthly CDs as a guaranteed clean backup. 'You just never know,' Wraight said.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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