Sophos puts 100 at risk of redundancy as future of Naked Security blog hangs in balance

Firm denies shutdown of marketing organ but heads may well roll


Exclusive Sophos has placed 100 staff at risk of redundancy and is said to be shutting down its Naked Security blog, sources have told The Register - although the private equity-owned biz denied this.

A person familiar with the matter told El Reg that 100 personnel, mainly in the antivirus company's sales engineering division, were told their services would no longer be required yesterday.

The layoffs are hitting staff across multiple divisions and in overseas locations as well as the UK, though we understand that Britain is the worst-hit location.

Other sources claimed to El Reg that Sophos' marketing blog, Naked Security, was due to be shut down – something the company denied when we put it to them. The blog, which won a "legend of cybersecurity" award at a blogger award ceremony earlier this week, is due to be put on ice, well placed sources insisted.

Sophos spokeswoman Tilly Travers told The Register: "We can assure you that Naked Security is fully functioning and will remain that way."

She added: "Sophos is implementing some internal restructuring to respond to the change in market conditions associated with COVID-19, and to accelerate the evolution already underway to our next-gen product portfolio… A restructuring is always a difficult decision, but we believe it is necessary to position Sophos for continued growth and success in the years to come, and to continue to provide advanced, world-class protection for our customers."

Someone crazy enough to cycle in London

Sophos was gearing up for a private life – then someone remembered the bike scheme

READ MORE

UK-based staff are being laid off while the nation's counter-coronavirus lockdown and furlough scheme remains in (nominal) force.

If Sophos put those staff on furlough now instead of making them redundant, their salaries would be guaranteed by the state with Sophos paying, eventually, 20 per cent of that, up to a capped maximum of £2,500 a month. They would have had to act fast under the new rules, however, as the final date by which an employer can furlough an employee for the first time will be 10 June. Furloughing staff could preserve their jobs until October, as explained by consumer financial news site MoneySavingExpert.

Sophos could be seen as making 100 staff redundant to avoid a monthly recurring furlough bill of up to £50,000, based on paying 20 per cent of £2,500 for a hundred people. In its last public financial update for the six months ended 30 September, the company said it made a net pre-tax loss of $1.5m on revenues of $365.8m; revenues were, nonetheless, said to be up 5 per cent year-on-year.

Last October a US private equity corporation bought Sophos for just over £3bn, as we reported. Chairman Peter Gyenes said at the time: "Under Thoma Bravo's ownership we expect Sophos to accelerate its evolution and leadership in next-generation cybersecurity."

Thoma Bravo owns, among other things, shareholdings in McAfee, Symantec and Barracuda Networks. In February the buyout was temporarily derailed, by, of all things, Sophos' cycle-to-work loan scheme. ®

Updated to add

Other sources have now confirmed to The Register that Sophos is slashing 16 per cent of its worldwide headcount, which, judging by its 2019 total of 3,400 people worldwide, works out at about 540 staff.

In an all-staff email chief exec Kris Hagerman said: “Affected employees or their Works Council representatives, where applicable, have now been notified. For some affected employees, this is the start of a period of consultation. Others are now entering a transition period leading up to their departure, with some employees leaving Sophos this week. Approximately 16 per cent of all Sophos roles are potentially impacted.”

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • AMD claims its GPUs beat Nvidia on performance per dollar
    * Terms, conditions, hardware specs and software may vary – a lot

    As a slowdown in PC sales brings down prices for graphics cards, AMD is hoping to win over the market's remaining buyers with a bold, new claim that its latest Radeon cards provide better performance for the dollar than Nvidia's most recent GeForce cards.

    In an image tweeted Monday by AMD's top gaming executive, the chip designer claims its lineup of Radeon RX 6000 cards provide better performance per dollar than competing ones from Nvidia, with all but two of the ten cards listed offering advantages in the double-digit percentages. AMD also claims to provide better performance for the power required by each card in all but two of the cards.

    Continue reading
  • Google opens the pod doors on Bay View campus
    A futuristic design won't make people want to come back – just ask Apple

    After nearly a decade of planning and five years of construction, Google is cutting the ribbon on its Bay View campus, the first that Google itself designed.

    The Bay View campus in Mountain View – slated to open this week – consists of two office buildings (one of which, Charleston East, is still under construction), 20 acres of open space, a 1,000-person event center and 240 short-term accommodations for Google employees. The search giant said the buildings at Bay View total 1.1 million square feet. For reference, that's less than half the size of Apple's spaceship. 

    The roofs on the two main buildings, which look like pavilions roofed in sails, were designed that way for a purpose: They're a network of 90,000 scale-like solar panels nicknamed "dragonscales" for their layout and shimmer. By scaling the tiles, Google said the design minimises damage from wind, rain and snow, and the sloped pavilion-like roof improves solar capture by adding additional curves in the roof. 

    Continue reading
  • Pentester pops open Tesla Model 3 using low-cost Bluetooth module
    Anything that uses proximity-based BLE is vulnerable, claim researchers

    Tesla Model 3 and Y owners, beware: the passive entry feature on your vehicle could potentially be hoodwinked by a relay attack, leading to the theft of the flash motor.

    Discovered and demonstrated by researchers at NCC Group, the technique involves relaying the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) signals from a smartphone that has been paired with a Tesla back to the vehicle. Far from simply unlocking the door, this hack lets a miscreant start the car and drive away, too.

    Essentially, what happens is this: the paired smartphone should be physically close by the Tesla to unlock it. NCC's technique involves one gadget near the paired phone, and another gadget near the car. The phone-side gadget relays signals from the phone to the car-side gadget, which forwards them to the vehicle to unlock and start it. This shouldn't normally happen because the phone and car are so far apart. The car has a defense mechanism – based on measuring transmission latency to detect that a paired device is too far away – that ideally prevents relayed signals from working, though this can be defeated by simply cutting the latency of the relay process.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022