Security vendor Sophos has upgraded its antivirus software to allow system administrators to block the installation of file-sharing, VoIP (voice over IP) and instant-messaging programs.
Enterprises have asked for ways to control what applications end users install, citing concerns over liability, bandwidth consumption and flagging productivity, said John Shaw, Sophos group product manager.
"They see a lot of users wasting company time and wasting company assets," he added.
The upgrade, called Application Control, is free and part of Sophos' Anti-Virus 6.0 software. Administrators have a console to control which applications users can install on their machines.
Application Control can block major P2P (peer-to-peer) applications such as Kazaa and eMule, plus instant-messaging programs from Yahoo, Microsoft and AOL. Google Talk, Skype and Net2Phone can also be blocked.
If a user tries to install an unwanted program, Application Control blocks the installation. To identify programs, Sophos uses analysis techniques similar to those used to identify malicious software, said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at the company.
If a program is updated, Sophos will also issue updates for its software to continue blocking the program, Cluley said.
Other products on the market take a different tack, analysing packets to determine what applications are using them, a more difficult method than simply blocking the installation, Cluley said.
Sophos will expand the list of programs that can be blocked, eventually encompassing grid and distributed computing applications and computer games.