British anti-virus software firm Sophos intends to expand into the mainland Internet security market next year. Charles Cousins, managing director at Sophos Asia, said the company hoped to fulfil all regulatory requirements for its products in China over the next few months so that it could start operations.
“We expect the partnerships we have made in Hong Kong and Taiwan will also help us penetrate the mainland software market,” he said. “We have already generated much interest from potential distributors and partners in the mainland.” The privately run company has no Chinese-language interface for its anti-virus software products. Despite that disadvantage, Mr Cousins said Sophos saw its Taiwanese technology partners HGiga, Box-Solution Corp and Softnext Technologies as helping its expansion.
“Those companies are now bundling Sophos’ anti-virus engine as part of their own security software and Internet security appliances, allowing them to market ready-to-use corporate solutions capable of combatting virus attacks immediately,” he said. “These enterprise solutions are targeted at various sectors, including financial services, government and manufacturing.”
In Hong Kong, Sophos resellers included Yui Kee Computing and Linux Center (HK).
Sophos, which began to beef up its Asia-Pacific business only late last year, faces strong competition in the mainland, where top anti-virus software brands such as Symantec, Trend Micro, McAfee and Computer Associates have been used since the late 90s.
Industry estimates show Chinese companies account for 32% of software sales in the mainland. The remainder is covered by foreign companies. “Our entry into the mainland market would come at a time when companies throughout China require more responsive anti-virus solutions to combat an increasing amount of computer-related attacks,” Mr Cousins said.
Deregulation in the mainland under the World Trade Organisation was a doubled -edged sword that would push further economic growth as well as unveil possible new security threats.Efforts to network enterprise storage resources, for example, might prove to be troublesome if the archived data to be shared by a large enterprise’s offices across the mainland and overseas remained infected.
Mr Cousins said Sophos’ anti-virus technology provided true cross-platform protection in a single, fully integrated product. The network-centric design offered a single point of installation, updating and policy control in an enterprise, including across multiple locations, and across combinations of servers, workstations and notebook computers. The number of computer viruses that Sophos detects and protects companies from totals 75,281.
Mr Cousins said Sophos’ worldwide growth was reflected in a user base of more than 10 million. Sophos products are sold and supported in more than 150 countries through a network of subsidiaries and partners. More than 60 per cent of the company’s worldwide turnover comes from outside Britain.
Other offerings include e-mail scanner MailMonitor, administration tool Enterprise Manager and SAVI (Sophos Anti-Virus Interface), which allows companies to integrate the company’s technologies into their own Internet security products.
Anti-virus experts based at high-security laboratories in Britain and Australia carried out 24-hour threat analysis to ensure rapid response to any new virus incident anywhere in the world, Mr Cousins said.