McAfee – Internet Security Suite 2006 review

anti-virus, firewall, spamkiller, anti-spyware, shredder and more
Photo of McAfee – Internet Security Suite 2006

The latest in security applications from McAfee comes in a big red box. There’s absolutely no need for the box to be as large as it is, with just a disc and a tiny leaflet rattling around inside its vast innards (goodbye fair rainforests, we knew you well). But there’s every need for the deep and angry red colour. It spells danger out just as clearly as if McAfee had used a skull and crossbones motif splashed across a PC, possibly with some ‘Inflammable’ and ‘Corrosive Substance’ signs added for good measure.

Internet. Danger. A fair enough message, but naturally, Internet Security Suite has all the protection the home user needs; a virus scanner, a firewall and a spamkiller, plus there’s a privacy program included as well. You can install one or all of these programs and it’s a straightforward process, providing you heed the warnings about removing any other anti-virus programs on your machine first.

Immediately after installation, the suite detected some adware on our PC, which was a promising if alarming start. After we had registered the software, Internet Security Suite updated itself with the latest virus definitions. We were then free to have a quick shufty around the main menu, the SecurityCenter, which ties the four programs together. This is all smartly presented, with bar charts displaying the current level of your computer’s protection in easy to read terms.

Moving on to the individual programs, VirusScan contains a number of interesting facilities, such as a world virus map which displays the frequency of infections around the globe over the past month. Other handy elements include a large virus database and a calendar that marks out any virus ‘payload’ dates which are on the horizon. The scanning process itself is relatively speedy and on our test run it picked up a few more pieces of adware (it will also deal with spyware, too).

Personal Firewall Plus maintains a list of currently active Internet-using applications, so you can block or allow transmission with one click. There’s also an event list, which details any suspicious attempts to connect to your PC, though Internet Security Suite takes it further with buttons that let you trace or report this activity. You can adjust security levels with a simple slider and there are extra features such as a traffic monitor, which breaks down your bandwidth usage.

SpamKiller integrates automatically with Outlook or Outlook Express, adding all your e-mail accounts to its protected list and importing your contacts. It’s a decent anti-spam program which has its parameters updated regularly by McAfee, plus it also guards against phishing scams by barring access to known fraudulent sites. There’s an option to report offenders to McAfee and it’s possible to concoct your own custom mail filter rules should you so wish.

The final component of Internet Security Suite is the Privacy Service, which allows you to create profiles for different users on the same machine. For example, you can set up a kid’s account with time limits on Internet access and appropriate content blocking. Pop-up and ad blocking is also offered, and the McAfee Shredder utility deletes files completely from your hard disk, leaving no trace (unlike the recycle bin).

Company: McAfee

Contact: 01753 217500

McAfee has a strong product here. The virus scanner is very thorough and based on the company's trustworthy definitions, and both the Firewall and SpamKiller are competent and well featured. There are lots of little extras here too, such as the Shredder which provides secure file deletion, making Internet Security Suite good value for money even at the price point.