Update: Sophos licenses firewall technology from Agnitum

Sophos bolsters its business security products

U.K. antivirus company Sophos plans to bolster its business security products with firewall technology licensed from Agnitum, it said Monday.

Sophos is licensing Agnitum's Outpost personal firewall technology for integration into its enterprise and small business products by the end of this year.

The addition is part of a broader plan by Sophos to move from being an antivirus company to a more integrated endpoint security provider, according to its head of product development, Gary Thomassen.

The firewall integration will offer companies centralized deployment and management functions and the ability to thwart new types of threats detected by Sophos, Thomassen said. Before the integration the company will provide a free, stand-alone preview of the firewall technology in April or May, which will be available by download, he added.

Sophos also plans to add technology to its products this year for combatting spyware and adware, Thomassen said.

"We already detect really malicious spyware, and adware is an area that is getting really hot," Thomassen said.

Spyware typically sneaks onto users' computers to deliver advertising messages or send out demographic or usage information. Growth in spyware, and adware, a type of spyware that displays advertising, have caused security vendors to ramp up their products in response to new threats.

Microsoft released a beta version of its Windows AntiSpyware last month, for instance, while eEye Digital Security also upgraded its desktop software to protect against spyware.

These moves are of little surprise considering that many companies started to plan more integrated endpoint security products, including antispam, antivirus and malware fighting features, a few years ago, according to IDC analyst Chris Christiansen.

"Right now we're just starting to see the migration," he said. The analyst predicted that embedded antispyware and malware technology would become increasingly common.

And while Sophos rivals McAfee and Symantec also have endpoint products, Sophos offers a higher degree of integration, Christiansen said.

The Abingdon, U.K., company is making this integration one of its key selling points, according to Thomassen.

"We are not going to try to release a halfhearted solution," he said.

Pricing for the upcoming products have yet to be revealed.