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Sophos Home Premium Review

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If you want business class security for your personal computers, Sophos Home Premium is an excellent choice. Its stellar malware detection capabilities, and remote management features make it more than a match for most traditional security solutions. Save now with this Sophos Home Premium Review

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We recently installed Sophos Home Premium on our computer, to give it a shot. We did use the free version prior to testing the premium edition, but honestly the paid version offers so much more. 

If you were to ask us which feature we liked the most in the antivirus, we would say that the online dashboard is incredible. But, before we explain about that, let us take a look at the application which you will use on your PC. 

The interface of Sophos Home Premium, is quite similar to that of the free version. The only options you will have on the screen are the “Clean My Computer”, and the “Manage My Security” options. 

When you click on “Clean My Computer”, the antivirus will run a scan on the PC. Sophos Home Premium does run a scan automatically, when the program has been installed on the computer.  We should mention that the memory usage during the scan was about 20-25MB, which makes Sophos Home Premium among the most lightweight antivirus programs in the world. When the scan has been completed, a detailed summary of the scan results is displayed on a pop-up window. 

Depending on the severity of the threats, Sophos will display a corresponding message. In our testing case, the program said “No Real Threats” were found. This actually meant that it had found some browser tracking cookies which were quite harmless. But it did detect a PUA (a potentially unwanted application) which was not an actual threat, but Sophos recommended that it be quarantined, just to be safe. 

That was one of the reasons why we were impressed with Sophos Home Premium. It didn’t scream at us, and claim a serious threat was detected. This is exactly how any antivirus should handle PUAs. What was surprising was the fact that Sophos sent us a mail to our registered email address, which mentioned that the antivirus has detected a threat, and also the name of the detected infection. There was also a shortcut linking to the online dashboard. 

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Just below the “Clean My Computer” option, there is a Last Scan indicator, which mentions how many threats were found, in the previous scan. Clicking on the Exceptions option takes you to a screen where you can add websites, applications, files which the antivirus should not block or detect as malicious content. This is not done though the app, but the online dashboard. 

That doesn’t mean you can’t do the same locally. The Local Exclusions tab can be used to whitelist apps and games, from being detected by the Advanced Protection settings, on the PC. 

Back on the main screen, you can see the current version of Sophos Home Premium which you have on the PC, along with the time and date when the virus definitions were last updated. You can right-click on the system tray icon, to update the definitions, though the program does run the update automatically from time to time. 

Click on Manage My Security, and your web browser will open the online dashboard of Sophos Home. This is something which is very important, you can access the dashboard from any PC, anywhere around the world, even if you are not using the system on which you have installed Sophos Home Premium. 

This dashboard is very similar to those used by Endpoint Security Solutions used by Enterprises. The fact that Sophos is offering business-class security for Home users, is really incredible. 

There are 5 tabs in the dashboard: Status, History, Protection, Web Filtering and Privacy. 

The Status tab displays whether the following modules are active or otherwise. 

  • Antivirus protection 
  • Web protection 
  • Ransomware protection 
  • Privacy protection  
  • Malicious Traffic detection  

You can disable or enable any of the modules, or configure the settings for each. The Status tab also lists the most recent threat which was detected on your computer. The Antivirus protection is the main component in Sophos Home Premium, as it is the real-time file analysis and blocker which prevents viruses, malware, worms, trojans, etc, from impacting your PC. 

The Web protection blocks malicious websites from loading in your web browser. The Ransomware protection prevents encryption viruses aka ransomware from locking you out of your files. The Privacy protection module alerts you when your webcam is being used by applications, while the Malicious Traffic detection helps in preventing your applications from connecting to malicious servers. 

History: 

The History tab lists all events in Sophos Home Premium, such as the recent detections, scans run, etc. 

Protection: 

Almost every single module’s controls are located in the Protection settings’ General tab. You can use this tab to disable the real-time protection entirely or enable the feature. Similarly, you can toggle the detection of Potentially Unwanted Applications and, Malicious Traffic. 

This tab is also where you can manage exceptions (websites, applications, games) from being detected as malicious by Sophos. 

The exploits tab is home to settings for the exploit mitigation which helps shield vulnerable applications from being attacked by malware. There is an attack prevention module called risk reduction which reduces attacks originating from USB devices. The Protected Applications module lists all programs installed on your PC, and lets you choose which of them will be run in a sandbox, and which should be allowed to run normally.  There will be a visual indicator like a colored border around protected applications, which you can disable from the same screen. 

The Ransomware tab allows you to disable or enable the Ransomware protection and Master Boot Record Protection. The Web settings allows you to block bad websites, enable or disable the Safe Browsing and anti-keylogger for Safe Online Banking, toggle the Download reputation levels for files which you download, and whitelist websites which shouldn’t be blocked by the application. 

Web Filtering: 

This tab allows you to choose the different types of online content which Sophos should blocked, which ones to allow, or to warn the user.  The parental controls can be used for blocking inappropriate websites, violent content, etc. The web filtering can be configured for social networking websites, peer to peer networks like torrents, web-based email, instant messaging chat, etc. 

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