California-based security vendor SonicWall has told the partners and customers of its enterprise rival Sophos: "It's time to think again."
It comes as independent cybersecurity tester NSS Labs released its annual comparison report on next-generation firewalls yesterday, which rated Sophos' XG Firewall poorly.
Sophos has seen its security effectiveness rating plummet to less than 30 per cent, with its TCO also rating poorly as "below average" at more than $20 per protected Mbps.
Last year, Sophos achieved a score of over 90 per cent.
In the last half an hour, Sophos has announced that it will contest the results.
Meanwhile, SonicWall NSA 2650 SonicOS placed in the upper right quadrant with an exploit block rate of 98.77 per cent, and a TCO of below $4 per protected Mbps.
SonicWall's response has been a bullish PR push to try to poach Sophos' partners.
Its executive director of EMEA sales Michael Berg told CRN sister publication Channelnomics Europe that SonicWall is "reassuring the channel" that it has the "right answers" to the proliferation of threats in the market.
"We face Sophos a lot. And they use us as a reference in the market to say that they are kind of the same as us. Obviously, this test result shows very strongly that this is not the case, and Sophos partners will understand this," he said.
"I think Sophos will be facing difficult questions from their partners, asking ‘Why have you been selling me this product, which is showing these kind of test results?'
"We've seen that some of our competitors have been struggling to keep up with the latest developments…Our strategy has been to invest a lot in being able to keep up to date with today's threats. It requires a lot of focus.
"Obviously, Sophos has not passed the test."
Channelnomics Europe also spoke to Sophos product management director Anthony Merry ahead of Sophos announcing it would challenge NSS Labs.
He insisted that the company is "proud of its results", while adding that NSS Labs tests "exclude many of the protection abilities" of Sophos' product.
"We're advising our customers and partners, and anyone who reads the report, to go and see the figures themselves," he said.
"When you break down the figures themselves, on the exploit block rate, we performed exactly the same as last year. And yes, we did miss one evasion, but to be fair we did last year, too. And for the TCO, it's only gone up 20 cents."
When pressed on why Sophos' firewall security rating has slumped more than 60 per cent this year, if Sophos' view is that they've performed at a similar level to the 2017 test, Merry said:
"That's a question that you need to pose to NSS Labs."
"NSS only tests a small subset of the technology we provide on the XG firewall. So we have a full suite of protection that extends well beyond this.
"We include a lot more technology that they have excluded on the test, such as our Intercept X product that includes advanced deep learning, exploit detection and cryptoguard. We also have advanced threat protection to detect bots, advanced persistent threats, crypto-mining protection, malicious browser-based apps and these protection technologies are protecting customers every day, and we're constantly innovating.
"That's what we talk to customers about."
Today's public denouncement of Sophos by rival SonicWall is not the first time these two security vendors have publicly gone head to head.
SonicWall's marketing budget has extended to setting up a website calling on partners to "ditch Sophos" entitled "So long, Sophos."
Sophos' Merry said that the Oxfordshire-based vendor is unruffled by SonicWall's targeted efforts.
"Our focus is the bad guys and protecting our customers from threats. We don't focus on what our competition does," he said.
"I would much prefer that customers actually vote with their dollars. And this report does not change that view."
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