The Position of Sophos in the Anti-Virus World

Sophos is the world’s 5th largest and the biggest European-headquartered anti-virus vendor. On the term of profitability, Sophos takes the third place, just after Symantec and Trend Micro. Sophos’s increasingly rapid growth internationally is reflected in a user base of well over 20 million and revenues, which soared by nearly 40% in the year 2001-2002.

While attending the RSA Conference 2003, we had an opportunity to talk with Michel Lanaspèze, Manager of Marketing and Communication Sophos France. Michel joined Sophos in 2002, following fourteen years in marketing and project management within the software industry. He is now responsible for the execution of Sophos’s marketing strategy and for the promotion of the Sophos brand within France, Spain, Portugal, and Greece.

“Sophos is not a young company – we were actually founded in 1985. Two years later in 1987, Sophos started working in the anti-virus market. A couple of years ago, Sophos started spreading internationally, and is now present in 150 countries worldwide. As you can see from the presented figures (turnover statistics image reprint below), we are experiencing a constant growth in both bookings and profit.” – Mr. Lanaspèze said.

Since 1994, Sophos has experienced a compound annual turnover growth of 44% and a compound pre-tax profit growth of 47%. Contributing to this year’s growth was new revenue resulting from Sophos’ further expansion into international territories. In November 2001, Sophos opened a new office in Singapore, enabling the company to better target the lucrative Asia Pacific market. In May 2002, Sophos announced that TA Associates had bought a minority stake in the company for US$60 million. The company’s achievements were also recognized with a number of prestigious awards and praises from independent testing bodies such as ICSA Labs, West Coast Labs, AV-Test.Org and Virus Bulletin as well as good reviews from magazines including InfoWorld, Federal Computer Week and Network News.

“Sophos focuses on enterprise business users. As a result, our attention goes to quality of our products and services. As an addition, I should note that Sophos is available on 23 platforms, making its way into various corporate environments” – Mr. Lanaspèze said and added “Some of our customers include companies such as KPMG, Bank of England, BBC, Toshiba, Xerox Corporation, Marks & Spencer and Siemens PLC.”

Sophos products provide easily administered and powerful virus protection. Combining outstanding engineering and technology, their software protects all key points in a company’s IT infrastructure:

  • Sophos Anti-Virus provides total multi-platform protection on servers, desktops and laptops.
  • MailMonitor provides an extra layer of protection, checking all email traffic at the gateway.
  • Enterprise Manager allows fully automated download and deployment of Sophos software and virus updates across the internet.
  • SAV Interface allows third parties to integrate with the Sophos virus engine.
Until early December, Sophos has detected 7,189 new viruses, worms and trojan horses. In average, the Sophos virus labs produce detection routines for more than 25 new viruses each day.

“Our two main labs are in Australia and in United Kingdom, making possible the 24 hours a day watch on the detection of newly found viruses. For instance, BugBear worm reached the Australia first. It was really busy there and after that UK took over. Operation centers covering specific parts of the world, are really useful because of a need for timely alerts” Mr. Lanaspèze noted.

Sophos’ 2002 virus chart contains the top ten viruses, as reported to the customer support service. Klez topped monthly charts for seven months this year – officially making itself 2002’s most prolific virus. The second most common virus was the BugBear worm, which makes the number two slot even though it was only detected in October 2002. In third place comes Badtrans, the password stealing worm which was first detected in November 2001. Other viruses are presented in the chart below.