Sophos Home Premium For Mac Review | #macos | #macsecurity


A variety of security products are available to protect and defend your Mac against viruses, hackers, ransomware, and other types of malicious activity. Sophos may not be the first name that springs to mind, but that doesn’t mean its products aren’t worth considering. For home users, the company sells a program appropriately named Sophos Home Premium.

As designed for macOS, Sophos Home Premium serves up security protection organized into five different categories: antivirus protection, malicious website protection, ransomware protection, privacy protection, and malicious traffic detection.

In the past Sophos offered a free version of its Home product with just the antivirus protection and website protection. In late 2021, the company discontinued that version, leaving Sophos Home Premium as the only option for personal use. You can freely and fully use Home Premium for 30 days via a trial, but after that you’ll have to shell out £37.46/$44.99 for the first year and £49.95/$59.99 for each subsequent year. For that price, however, you can install the software on as many as 10 Windows PCs and/or Macs.

For my testing, I tried Home Premium on two different MacBook Air systems – one with an Intel chip and the other with an Apple M1 chip. I didn’t run into any M1 compatibility issues, so the product performed effectively on both machines.

Installation and Setup

Installing and setting up Sophos Home Premium starts off smoothly enough but then gets confusing. After installation, the software guides you through the process of granting it the necessary permissions to operate. But then the setup stops with no clear direction on what to do next. To continue, you must sign into your Sophos Home dashboard on the website to set up each component in the software, a step I learned only by checking the online help documentation.

There’s no Dock icon to launch the program. Icons for Sophos are placed in your Applications folder, but none of them do anything. Fortunately, a menu bar icon provides access to the online dashboard and other features.

Once at the dashboard, you’re able to view and configure each of the five types of protection.


You must sign into your Sophos dashboard on the web to configure each component.

The antivirus protection offers real-time scanning for your local drives and network drives. Through the configuration screen, you can kick off a manual scan or schedule one based on a specific day or days and time. By default, the program automatically removes any malware it discovers, though you can tell it to quarantine malicious items should you want to review or inspect them.

You’re able to run a scan from the online dashboard or from the program’s menu bar icon. Triggering a scan from the menu bar icon is the better option as you can choose a quick scan or a full scan and run the scan even if you’re offline.

Sophos home review

You can configure the antivirus protection to schedule a scan and include network drives in real-time scanning.

The web protection setting blocks websites known to spread malware, but you can add exceptions to the rule. The ransomware protection attempts to prevent detected malware from encrypting your files. The privacy protection alerts you to any unwanted attempts to access your webcam or microphone. And the malicious traffic detection looks for programs that try to connect to a malicious server. A setting for web filtering lets you block websites based on specific areas, such as gambling, gaming, hacking, illegal drugs, sex education, violence, and weapons.

Sophos Home Review

You can block websites based on certain categories.

How effective is Sophos at detecting malware? The program doesn’t get tested as frequently as do other better known products. But a 2017 evaluation of macOS security software by AV-Test gave Sophos Home outstanding grades for protection, performance, and usability.

I also ran an EICAR test, which simulates a virus, and Sophos detected and blocked it with no trouble. The website filtering worked well as I tried launching sites associated with blocked categories. Safari told me that it couldn’t access them but I was able to open those same sites with the filtering turned off.

Verdict

Sophos Home Premium provides effective protection, but the setup process and cloud-only features were drawbacks. It needs clearer set up and the ability to do more locally.

Specs

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