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Sophos Filters Second Life

Posted by SIM on March 15, 2007

Sophos Kills Second Life On Corporate Networks
14 March 2007

Online games and virtual worlds can reduce office productivity and may present a security risk in real life

IT security and control firm Sophos has announced that from 3 April, the application control feature of Sophos Anti-Virus will be extended to give businesses the option to block workers from playing Second Life via company networks. With more than four million registered users worldwide, many of whom regularly visit Second Life on their business PCs, Sophos is warning of the negative impact on staff productivity as well as the increased IT security risks posed by allowing employees to access this virtual world at work.

In a recent Sophos web poll of more than 450 system administrators, 90.4 percent wanted the ability to block the unauthorized use of games at work, with 62 percent indicating this was essential. In addition to placing unnecessary burdens on company bandwidth and wasting valuable business time, the use of web-based games such as Second Life is also opening up a new set of IT security threats. The growing use of Web 2.0 is redefining how users interact with the internet and subsequently creating new avenues for cybercriminals seeking the easiest point of entry to the network.

“Second Life is a hot topic on the internet, with people becoming hooked on their new virtual life and companies opening up virtual branches. IT departments are concerned that workers may be so keen to log on to Second Life and other virtual worlds that there will not only be a productivity hit but also a potential security issue,” said Carole Theriault, senior security consultant at Sophos. “If users cannot be trusted to act responsibly on corporate computers, then system administrators will need to enforce policies through technology. For businesses operating in the real world, users playing online games can seriously impact on performance, drain network resources and put corporate data at risk.”

The immense media buzz about the virtual world has already made Second Life a target for hackers trying to gain access to sensitive data to commit identity theft and for financial gain. Last September, hackers stole a Second Life database containing passwords and login information for around 650,000 players. To defend against web-based threats, Sophos recommends that businesses implement a consolidated security solution to protect all possible routes of infection to the corporate network, as well as controlling which websites and online applications can be accessed from work PCs.

Since Sophos introduced its application control ability to Sophos Anti-Virus in September 2006, it has proven popular with businesses giving them the power to block games, VoIP, peer-to-peer (P2P), Instant Messaging (IM) and distributed computing applications. The technology integrates seamlessly into Sophos Anti-Virus 6.0, providing users with a universal desktop client that addresses a diverse range of security and productivity challenges. In addition, Sophos’s WS1000 web security appliance delivers simple and easy enforcement of acceptable internet use policies.

System administrators will be able to set policies regarding which users can play the following games and MMORPGs from 3 April 2007:

Everquest
Everquest II
Lineage
Lineage II
Runescape
Second Life
Station Launch Pad

About Sophos

Sophos is a world leader in IT security and control. Sophos offers complete protection and control to business, education and government organizations – defending against known and unknown malware, spyware, intrusions, unwanted applications, spam, policy abuse and uncontrolled network access (NAC). Sophos’s reliably engineered, easy-to-operate products protect over 100 million users in more than 150 countries. Through over 20 years’ experience and a global network of threat analysis centers, the company responds rapidly to emerging threats and achieves the highest levels of customer satisfaction in the industry. Sophos is a global company with headquarters in Boston, MA, and Oxford, UK.

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