McAfee Internet Security '08 - Ten Layers of Security
written by: Mojave Media Group•edited by: Ronda Bowen•updated: 7/4/2011
McAfee Internet Security Suite 2008 introduces an update to its security suite that incorporates Site Advisor in a ten-in-one security package for your Windows PC. Parental controls, data backup and recovery, and overall PC health accompany the usual antivirus, anti-spyware, and anti-spam features.
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McAfee Internet Security Suite 2008 with Site Advisor is a diverse and layered application that provides a secure Internet experience for the average user. McAfee Internet Security Suite 2008 is a quality product ideal for the home user and it's flexible enough for beginners and intermediate computer users alike.
McAfee covers you with several different components, which can be selectively installed. This modularity adds to the usability of the suite. Some users may only want or need a subset of the layers of security that McAfee Internet Security Suite 2008 provides.
Site Advisor is a great add-on that gives users confidence in their Internet browsing.
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Installation & Setup
The installation of McAfee Internet Security Suite 2008 was simple and modular by design. McAfee greatly improved upon this process which was less than stellar in earlier versions of the application. One restart was required. The user could select which components to install. [See image 1] Installation progress was displayed by component. [See image 2]
A brief scan was performed by McAfee Internet Security Suite 2008 before completing the installation. Unfortunately, McAfee requires use of its Download Manager and Internet connectivity is required for the installation. While this allows the most up-to-date components to be installed, it requires reasonable bandwidth and time. The complete installation required a download of almost 50MB.
The download manager may be used to control the number of installations, too, as McAfee Internet Security Suite 2008 is allowed on three workstations concurrently.
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McAfee Internet Security Suite 2008 integrates with several applications, most notably browsers and email clients, but has a quality separate centralized interface it calls the Security Center. [See images 3-7]
The interface is easy to use and provides good menu headings and in-depth configuration and reporting. Some items open up additional windows, such as the data backup and recovery component. Others provide configuration within the Security Center interface.
The anti-spam interface extends into the email client with options to white list senders (Add Friend) and mark items as junk mail or not. [See image 8] The Security Center can also be launched through the email client as well as through Windows.
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Real-time protection in security suites always consumes resources. McAfee did a reasonable job in not overly stressing test workstations with McAfee Internet Security Suite 2008 installed and functioning. Task manager shows several McAfee processes running, each starting with an 'MC.' [See image 20]
The default settings for anti-spam integration in Outlook were not reasonable. It scanned the inbox and then moved many messages to the McAfee antispam folder and affixed 'SPAM' to those messages.
Also, as with any protection application, it's only as good as its effectiveness in protecting the workstation. McAfee has been around a long time with antivirus and other security products. They do a reasonable job in providing updates and staying current for users.
The complete installation worked well on Windows XP with Office 2003; however, it was a bit of a battle on Windows Vista with Outlook 2007. Several errors were found and missing prerequisites had to be installed after the application.
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McAfee Internet Security Suite 2008 with Site Advisor is loaded with features. When the entire suite is installed, the main features are as follows:
Antispam integrates with email clients, including Outlook and Thunderbird, to provide solid junk email control, after some configuration, for the user including adding friends (whitelisting).
Phishing emails are first caught by McAfee with the antispam component, then reinforced by Site Advisor.
Real-time and On-Demand Antivirus - This is the expected component for any McAfee security suite. It catches incoming files whether through file transfer, email or web download. [See image 9] On Demand scans can be complete or granular in what files to scan with reasonable reporting on the results. [See images 10-12]
Shredder - When you want to be sure that personal files can't be recovered, even with low level disk tools, then the Shredder may be valuable for you.
Data Backup and Recovery - McAfee can backup all of your data, or selected files. [See image 14]
Firewall and Hacker Protection - A firewall application helps protect the workstation from inbound connections to unauthorized places like ports and applications. Hacker Protection is an amusing marketing term, but McAfee does provide basic controls against unwanted remote user access.
Parental Controls - Keywords and specific websites provide reasonable security for younger internet users. The settings can be applied to specific users on Windows XP and Vista.
PC Health - McAfee adds a few tools it places under the PC Health category. These tools are found elsewhere and really only add to the completeness of the suite. These include a Registry cleaner and disk defragmentation tool.
Site Advisor is the communal effort of McAfee users to record sites as safe, unsafe or questionable. These categories match up with the colors of a traffic light and are shown in the toolbar of the browser. [See image 18] In addition, Site Advisor presents this information in search results for the major search engines including Google, Ask, Yahoo, and Microsoft Live. [See image 19]
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Security & Privacy
There is a lot of faith that involved in trusting a software company not to use and abuse the personal information it gets from the user. Some data is sent anonymously to McAfee and is done so to make the product better for everyone. This is especially true for the anti-spam component and Site Advisor.
McAfee is notified whenever something is marked as junk email and browsing information can be sent to make Site Advisor more valuable to the McAfee community as a whole.
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I wish it would be easier to disable auto-renewal. McAfee keeps credit card information on file and automatically charges for renewal of the product. This can be disabled by contacting customer service.
Users should be given the option to install missing prerequisites prior to the installation of the application. For example, if the .Net Framework 1.1 is missing, the application generates errors that need to be remedied. Why not advise the user that the missing component should be installed first, then the application.
When opening the email client with McAfee anti-spam integrated for the first time, it automatically scans the inbox. This should be optional, perhaps with a popup asking the user where they want McAfee to start. It should only scan new incoming messages. It took a lot of effort to move the hundreds of valid messages back to the inbox and remove the [SPAM] from the subject line.
A warning or log should be available when information is being sent back to McAfee.
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McAfee Internet Security Suite 2008 with Site Advisor offers a defensive, in-depth approach to workstation protection. The ten layers cover almost anyone's needs for security when connected to the Internet. It provides anti-spam, anti-phishing, antivirus, and anti-malware. In addition, it adds other useful functions like data backup and recovery, PC health checks, and parental controls.
Overall, McAfee Internet Security Suite 2008 with Site Advisor is a reasonably solid investment for the average PC user.
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Trend Micro PC-cillan, Symantec Norton Internet Security, Panda Platinum Internet Security, F-Secure Internet Security, CA eTrust Internet Security