Sophos Antivirus (review) began production of its first antivirus software in 1985, in the small British town of Abingdon. Founders Jan Hruska and Peter Lammer initially created the software as a small-scale cybersecurity and encryption tool. It began diversifying into more private and business security capabilities in the late 1980s.
Today, Sophos has grown to over 3,000 employees around the world. But what does its longevity mean to consumers and how does this antivirus software stack up against the competition?
In this review of the Sophos antivirus, I wanted to look for:
- Is Sophos effective against malware?
- Does Sophos compare to competitive independent lab test results?
- How does this antivirus affect the speed of the PC?
- Is it easy to install and use?
- Which version is the best for the typical user?
I will also examine the prices and review the additional features included with the software.
If you just have time for the short version, this is what I found. Sophos can be a good value for money service and perform well in my own malware tests. Unfortunately, it falls short of the offerings of its top-rated peers. Sophos is rated relatively low by well-regarded independent AV comparison websites. It also has some confusing elements, like a really short full scan that gives little information to the user.
If you’re curious about how I came to this conclusion, read on to find out what I discovered in my review of the Sophos Home antivirus range.
Sophos Antivirus Pros & Cons
- Remote security management
- Low-cost multi-device coverage
- The free version covers three devices
- No encrypted storage for consumer-grade software
- No webcam protection
- No quick scan and lack of data for consumers
- Low scores from independent AV testing labs
Sophos Antivirus plans and pricing
It only offers two different types of home virus protection: Sophos Home and Sophos Home Premium.
Sophos Home (Free)
It is the free software offered by Sophos. It’s an honest selection of tools included in this list of free features, including the following:
- AI threat detection
- Real-time antivirus
- Parental filtering of Internet sites
- Web protection
- Remote management
- Advanced real-time threat protection
Other features of the Sophos Home Premium package are also available as a free trial within the essential Sophos Home download.
An important positive about this free entry to the Sophos range is that it offers multi-device coverage. Most free software like this covers a single device. They also typically only cover the Windows operating system. The free program from Sophos is available for 3 different devices and also provides protection for Windows, macOS, and some mobile operating systems.
Sophos Home Premium
It is the company’s consumer-level paid product. In addition to the benefits that come with the freeware entry above, Home Premium also offers the following:
- Advanced real-time threat prevention
- Ransomware Security
- Advanced web security (blocks phishing sites and compromised websites)
- Bank protection
- Identity protection
- Malware scanning and cleaning (retroactive removal of previous viruses, malware, and other infections)
- Live premium support
- Coverage of up to 10 devices
This is a reasonably large selection of features worth $ 60 per year. This price is currently available at a 25 percent discount for the elementary year, making it $ 45.
You can see even bigger discounts by buying a longer-term. for example, you can get a two-year subscription at a 35 percent discount, costing $ 78. A three-year subscription gets a forty-five percent discount and costs $ 99.
These are certainly good deals, but it’s worth noting that these offers are subject to variation, so always check the AV provider’s website to make the most of any possible discounts.
Effectiveness against malware
In this section, I will be able to test the performance of Sophos Home Premium against malware. The main test is one built by the ECU Institute for Computer Antivirus Research (EICAR). I will also be able to compare Sophos to live samples of malware, including adware and Trojans. Finally, we will consider the attitude of two leading antivirus testing labs, AV-Comparatives and AV-Test.
EICAR sample tests
The objective of the EICAR tests is to see how the antivirus suite works in the different stages of protection against malware. I examined if it blocks the download of suspicious files, detects or blocks the files in real-time on the PC and you may see that the files are suspicious before opening them. I also wanted to see if the quick scan or the full scan detects any of the files.
The files are not inherently harmful but are supposed to simulate the conditions and type of executable malware. files. These files must be detected by an honest antivirus. The following table shows how Sophos performed against this first test.
|Test File||EICAR Sample 1||EICAR Sample 2||EICAR Sample 3||EICAR Sample 4|
As you will see, I saw promising results from Sophos here. Its real-time scan feature captured all EICAR files when I tried to download them from HTTPS and HTTP connections.
Next, I used several of my own sample files to check out the software. These live samples simulated adware and real-world Trojan attacks.
The adware works by presenting pop-up advertisements, usually within an Internet browser. These ads generate passive income for the hacker and some lead to malicious websites.
A computer virus has a similar principle but different execution. These viruses infect your machine by hiding as genuine software. Being at the service of your machine, they are ready to execute all kinds of sinister processes. Ransomware that locks you out of your machine until you submit payment can be a common example.
The following table shows how the Sophos Home program approached live samples:
|Test File||Live Sample 1 (Adware)||Live Sample 2 (Trojan)||Live Sample 3 (Trojan)|
Another impressive performance from Sophos. The program detected and blocked the preview download of all three files (both HTTPS and HTTP) in real-time, then did something equivalent in the full scan. This performance would imply a fast and responsive action program that will affect the spread of various threats.
How effective are its scans?
The next test I ran on the software was to see how deep its scans go into a machine. The following table shows how long the Sophos full scan takes to resolve and the number of items it checks in time.
|Test Type||Full Scan Time (minutes)||Full Scan # Items Scanned|
It’s results look pretty strange in this table. As you will see, the full analysis only took a quarter of an hour to resolve. No information was provided on how many things this scan manages to see. As you will see in the table below, most of Sophos ‘other antivirus rivals include this number, and each of them has significantly longer scan times than Sophos’.
|Test Type||Control CPU Utilization % (no scan)||Control Memory Utilization % (no scan)||Full Scan CPU Utilization %||Full Scan Memory Utilization %|
It is worrying that Sophos does not provide information on how many things scanned it solves so quickly (perhaps indicating a full scan).
It’s worth noting that Sophos still informs you of malicious items found when it resolves your scans.
Here, we’ll see how Sophos performs in tests conducted by a number one antivirus comparison website, AV-Comparatives.
As a comparison tool, AV-Comparatives focuses more on anti-malware performance than the overall performance of the suite as a PC tool. Scores are presented during a scoring system with a maximum of three stars awarded to the highest performing antivirus programs.
AV-Comparatives uses two different tests to examine the products within its scope.
The first is the Real-World Protection Test, which compares products against 380 live virus samples of actual malicious links found online over the course of a year. This test simulates the types of malware that a consumer may encounter.
The latest results available to Sophos for the real-world protection test come from July 2016, so that time frame is worth considering. In the July 2016 real-world protection test, Sophos did not score well. Out of 100 possible, the top global protection rate for Sophos was 96.2. this is often well below most of its competitors and places it in the lowest group of all products tested. It also generated a lot of false positives, which is undesirable in AV software.
The Malware Protection Test is intended to see how the software adapts to the different stages of malware that come into contact with your system. Like our live sample test above, it checks to see if a malware file will download, find itself on a system, and crash. There is not a recent enough result for Sophos for this test, but an identical malware removal test was run in 2015. In that test, Sophos scored 82 out of 100 possible points, once again behind the suite of tested antivirus vendors.
While Sophos performed admirably in our own tests, these AV-Comparatives test scores are a bit concerning, as they show a consistent performance dearth in a large number of test cases.
The lack of recent data is also a priority, as independent labs apparently believe that Sophos is not competitive enough to be included in their latest benchmark tests.
Impact on PC performance
This section examines how much of the Sophos antivirus program might affect your computer’s system performance. First, I take a measure of the performance impact of the computer’s system by checking CPU and memory utilization when no scan is running. Then I plan to run both the quick scan and the full scan, recording the impact on CPU and memory while the scans are running.
Even though almost all other antivirus vendors have the option of a quick scan or a customizable scan that will simulate one, Sophos does not. This is usually a bit tricky, as a quick scan is an incredibly useful gadget for doing a quick check for issues alongside your computer.
A quick scan works by targeting the areas of a system that are most commonly compromised (or the subject of previous attacks) and scanning them for threats, rather than spending time checking the entire system. the shortage of functionality here remains also within the full scan where Sophos does not provide data on what has been scanned. We will at least measure the impact the full scan has on performance.
The table below shows the impact that the full Sophos 15-minute scan had on the rest of the system’s processing capabilities.
|Test Type||Control CPU Utilization % (no scan)||Control Memory Utilization % (no scan)||Full Scan CPU Utilization %||Full Scan Memory Utilization %|
While an 18 percent CPU is nothing, Sophos isn’t nearly as impressive as many of its peers, as you’ll see in the table below.
|Software||% increase in CPU Utilization||% increase in Memory Utilization|
This is an exhilarating result relative to the opposite antivirus software on this list. This low-impact and comparatively fast full scan stand out as rare among the most demanding and time-consuming scans present here. this may imply that the Sophos “full” scan is not really taking stock of the entire machine.
Again, it could be a lot easier to really tell what was going on here if Sophos were more transparent about what exactly its software does when it runs its full scan, and thus the lack of communication with the end-user is quite disappointing.
Next, we’ll take a look at some of the additional features that Sophos offers.
Artificial intelligence-led real-time threat prevention
An advantage of Sophos Home AV solutions is that they provide a number of advanced features from Sophos’ business plans. Several of these security measures are trusted to protect leading companies and are endorsed by various business security leaders on the Sophos website. It should be noted that the real-time threat prevention based on artificial intelligence offered by Sophos, which is available in both its free and premium services.
The same AI that prevents cybersecurity disasters for giant companies can also protect your system, including preventing zero-day attacks.
A zero-day attack can be a kind of cybersecurity attack that has not happened before or that no one was aware of. These are often particularly dangerous if your antivirus software doesn’t have the ability to combat them, as there is no pre-set playbook for a way to affect them.
That is why advanced systems designed for zero-day attacks are essential. Sophos AI is designed to predict the types of attacks that can emerge as zero-day threats and can be prepared to retaliate quickly and effectively.
Sophos remote security management
This feature is great to own during a home cybersecurity system governing multiple devices. With this technique, you will use your Sophos account to remotely manage the security settings of all the devices covered by your subscription.
For example, if the multiple devices covered by your subscription are all within one family, your Sophos account may change the device settings for your relatives. This could be useful for people looking to limit certain Internet access, or if you are providing protection to a less tech-savvy loved one who needs help fixing this type of protection for their device.
Remote security management is available for up to 10 devices along with your Sophos Home Premium subscription.
Sophos has some distinct, clear, and well-formatted elements to its interface. The tabs are separated by boxes, with some helpful images illustrating the functionality of each item. using sunny grays and whites because the predominant color scheme means that the buttons blend into the background and are quite difficult to determine. Other than that, hyperlinks are provided in a rich, bright blue, and new activities and notifications are indicated with a striking orange accent.
Sophos customer service is comprehensive and really accessible, although users of free software are limited to support only within the type of knowledge base articles.
While there is no phone support, premium users can find live chat support on the Sophos website. This provides dedicated support staff, Monday through Friday, 8 AM to 5 PM. M. At 8 p. M., Eastern Time There is also an FAQ page and a full knowledge domain offered by Sophos users.
This level of support puts Sophos on par with opposing antivirus companies that I have even reviewed, although it would be nice if it offered phone support for premium users.
|Products||Windows 10||Windows 8||Windows 7||Windows Vista||Mac||Mobile||PC hard disk space required|
|Sophos Home||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||OS X 10.12 or later||Yes, Android and iOS||1GB Windows, 4GB Mac|
|Sophos Home Premium||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||OS X 10.12 or later||Yes, Android and iOS||1GB Windows, 4GB Mac|
In conclusion, Sophos offers a lot to offer consumers in addition to your regular business customers. If you are on a budget and looking to hide multiple devices, Sophos Home Free can be a solid option, allowing coverage for 3 devices at no cost.
It is also encouraging to determine coverage for 10 devices included in the one-year subscription price of the Sophos Home Premium package. Also, the value of this plan is not particularly high compared to its competition.
Advanced AI threat detection is also nothing to sniff at. Zero-day attacks are a truly real and dangerous threat, so if that level of computer security is vital to you, this software might be worth your consideration.
With that said, there are a couple of important notes of concern with the Sophos range. the dearth of a quick scan, though not entirely unprecedented, is certainly a mark against the merchandise. On top of that, Sophos is not widely appreciated for its virus detection and malware prevention capabilities.
The lack of data provided to users on what their full scans do and why they only take a quarter of an hour to resolve leaves several questions unanswered.
Overall, Sophos Home Territory offers some useful device coverage and management tools, but it appears to be lacking in efficiency when it comes to running proper scans and fighting malware.
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