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Keep your family safe online with Sophos Home Edition

How are you protecting your family from online threats?  Do you control what your kids can access online?

This article shows you some of the controls available when you use Sophos Home Edition to protect your home computers.

We’ve used Sophos Home Edition for several years, first we used the free version but the added functionality available with the paid version was well worth the low price.

I’d also like to point out that we don’t gain anything from promoting Sophos Home Edition, I just really like the product.  Though it is reassuring to know that it’s based on the same technology available to enterprise customers.

Sophos Home Edition allows you to protect up to ten Microsoft Windows or Apple Mac computers for £35 a year. 

Everything is controlled through an easy to use web portal, I’ll walk you through some of the features next.

Sophos Home Edition – Web Console Walkthrough

When you first log in, you will be presented with a management Dashboard.

Once you’ve installed the software, you will see your computers as shown below:

I’m going to focus on Harry’s Windows 10 laptop here, so clicked on “HarryPC” on the Dashboard.

This has now opened the main page showing the status of the protection of Harry’s laptop.

If you want to look at the history for a particular computer, you can click the “History” tab and it will take you to a screen showing any threats or violations which might have affected the computer.  There’s nothing to show here, so I’m skipping that tab.

Protection

Moving to the “Protection” tab, you can enable or disable different elements of the computer’s protection offered by Sophos Home Edition.

A series of additional tabs will appear in blue underneath the first set.

First, we will look at the “General” tab.

Real-Time Protection enables files and applications to be scanned as they are accessed by the system.

Malicious Traffic Detection looks out for any applications on your system that are attempting to connect to and send or receive data from servers which are known to be dangerous.

Artificial Intelligence improves scanning and uses Machine Learning techniques to try and work out whether an application or other file contains a previously unknown virus or other malicious application.

Scheduled Scan allows you to set a specific time of day for a full system scan to take place.

Exceptions allows you to tell Sophos to ignore certain files or folders.  This can be useful if an application is being negatively affected by Sophos as it tries to scan its files.

Next, we will view the “Exploits” tab, this is where the various settings for protecting against exploits will appear.

Clicking the “Advanced Settings” link under each section will enable you to finely control which elements of the protection you use.  Most things are enabled by default, but as shown in the image below, under “Risk Reduction” the protection against malicious USB devices is disabled. 

You can enable this, but it may block legitimate USB devices from being accessible to your computer.

Ransomware is always big in the news when computer security is being discussed.  It always grabs the headlines, much like with WannaCry and the NHS a few years back and more recently, Cognizant who were hit with a nasty type of Ransomware called Maze.

It would be wise to ensure that Ransomware protection is enabled as getting hit by this kind of malware is a sure way to lose access to your important files. 

Whilst we’re on the subject of important files, always make sure you have a good, current backup of your files.  You can use online storage platforms such as Dropbox or OneDrive, but you can also take local backups with USB Hard Drives.

Clicking on the “Web” tab takes you to the settings for Web Protection, this helps keep you safe from dangerous websites which aim to infect your computer and also from dangerous downloads and threats to your online banking. 

 

Web Filtering

The next tab, “Web Filtering” allows you to block different categories of website by telling Sophos which computers can access what type of site.

Harry is 12 years old at the time of writing, so whilst everything is enabled by default, there’s some obvious changes that need to be made here.

Clicking on the circles in the appropriate columns is all that is needed to lock down access to the different types of content.  It’s not fool proof as some sites manage to get past it, but the protection is sufficient in most cases and will protect against all but the most determined attempts to access inappropriate content.

Privacy

Finally, the “Privacy” tab contains a control for alerts when applications try and use your webcam.  This can be particularly useful as there’s more than a few malicious applications out there which can take control of your webcam and make it or the images it captures available to strangers online.

How to get Sophos Home Edition

You can click here to get your copy of Sophos Home Edition for free, but for additional functionality it's well worth the cost to ensure you have the very best protection. If you need any help setting this up, please contact us for assistance.

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