Budget airline FlyBe is assessing anti-virus-style technology for locking down PCs which could reduce the costs associated with keeping blocked-application lists updated.
Sophos' Application Control tool is designed to manage desktops and network bandwidth. Using anti-virus signature technology to identify applications, it is able to stop users running instant messaging software such as MSN, voice over IP software such as Skype, P2P file-sharing applications and distributed computing projects such as Seti@Home.
In addition, bandwidth consumption can be controlled by preventing legitimate applications from being run by certain end-users.
FlyBe IT security manager Chris Cooper said, "We have been running a trial using Application Control to block P2P file sharing and Skype in particular."
The benefit, said Cooper, was that FlyBe would be able to more easily control access to applications based on a user's role.
Locking down desktops should be simpler than with existing technology because Sophos updates the signature files for applications once a month, in the same way that anti-virus signatures are updated, to reflect the availability of new versions of the blocked applications.
"With other products we would have to create these signatures ourselves, which is a substantial task," Cooper said.
Mark Blowers, senior research analyst at Butler Group, said the approach taken by FlyBe with Sophos was innovative. "It is interesting to see a firm using existing anti-virus technology to solve an IT management problem," he said.
Blowers said he believed the approach would be simpler to manage than relying on additional, third-party PC software or managing the PC desktop centrally.
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