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Sophos Home Premium Antivirus for free, with a catch
Posted: Posted July 21st, 2017
Edited July 21st, 2017 by Jo Nathan

Yesterday I noticed that Sophos is giving away a year subscription for their upcoming "Home Premium" version of their antivirus (and here's the catch) if you sign up for the beta. I heard that their existing free version is allegedly business-grade, so this premium version should be even better in theory. Needless to say, my curiosity was piqued, and now I'm giving the beta a try.

Anyone else who might be interested can check out this link - note the banner across the top that has a link to sign up for the beta.
So what do I think of it so far? Well, it forced me to authorize my USB keyboard when I first installed it, so my PC is probably safe from USB keyloggers. It also encrypts my keystrokes when I use Google Chrome. One thing that annoys me is that whenever I type or move the mouse cursor to the edge of the Chrome window, it gets a thick green border to remind me that Sophos is doing stuff with my browser, and it's kind of distracting. There might be a way to disable it but I'm not entirely sure. Edit: You can totally turn that off.

After the install, it did an initial scan of my system. It found no malware because of course it wouldn't - it's MY computer, after all. It did clean out a bunch of tracking cookies for me, though, so that's kind of neat.

One thing that I don't like is how I have to sign into their web portal in order to change settings, instead of managing my settings directly through the client. The web portal itself is quite nice, though, and I can easily manage multiple devices through it.

Overall, I think it offers a nice feature set. It protects against unauthorized USB devices, it warns me when something tries to use my webcam, it encrypts all the typing I do on websites, it employs exploit mitigation in vulnerable programs, it protects network folders from being hit by cryptoware from another machine, it protects my MBR from malicious tampering, and the usual whistles and bells you'd expect from an antivirus program. For a beta product, it feels pretty polished, and it doesn't feel like it's having a negative impact on my computer's performance so far.

One thing I wish it included was a file shredder. I know there are other programs I can use for that, but it just seems like a standard feature included in many "premium" antivirus programs these days, and AVG Free even has a file shredder. It is a beta though, so the final version could include one for all I know.

My other main concern is detection rates. I uninstalled BitDefender Free in order to give this a test drive, and while I think the extra features are pretty cool, I did have to give up the industry's best detection rates for it. In fact, Sophos' detection rates aren't anything to write home about.

Still, it seems like a decent product so far, even in beta. If you fancy getting your hands on a free year subscription to a premium antivirus solution in exchange for beta-testing for it in the months leading up to its release, I'd say it's worth a gander.

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