McAfee Gives Internet Security
by (c) 2003 First published in Toronto Computes
There's Hertz and Avis, Pepsi and Coke, Mac OS and Windows. To these
classic rivalries, add Symantec and Network Associates. Each wants you
to think of their respective Norton and McAfee brands for all your
computer's antivirus and security needs.
Symantec's Norton Internet Security 2003 (NIS) suite
bundles Norton Antivirus with a firewall, throwing in parental control
features and spam filters. Like Symantec's NIS, Network Associates'
McAfee Internet Security 5.0 (MIS) suite bundles a variety of McAfee
applications otherwise available separately.
No home PC should be without virus protection. MIS
includes McAfee VirusScan Home Edition 7, which does a good job of
scanning e-mail both coming and going. This new version supports all
standard POP3 e-mail programs, not just Outlook (as in earlier McAfee
versions). Also in the package: McAfee Firewall 4.0 and a toolbox of
useful tools, including a Web ad blocker, cookie filter, browser
cleaner and parental controls. More features and more advanced
in fact, than Symantec's suite, but also sometimes harder to use.
Setup does a good job of installing the various
components and getting a user up and running, with one curious
The firewall is turned off by default. Unless a user knows to manually
turn it on, much of the potential protection from this suite will be
Once turned on, a wizard does a good job of helping to
configure the firewall, identifying installed programs that might want
to access the Internet or local area network. As with many other
software firewalls, be prepared for a couple of days of having the
software frequently asking you whether you're prepared to allow various
programs permission to use the Net -- and be prepared for some
regarding which programs want to go online. Like a firm but loving
parent, you should be prepared to say "No" to your software now and
Besides letting you be firm with your software, the
program's parental control features let you block applications, chat,
instant messaging or even individual newsgroups for some users while
allowing them for others, giving you control over how your children use
As with Norton's suite, you can list data-strings such
as portions of your bank account or credit card numbers so that the
program can warn you if something attempts to send these numbers across
the Net without your knowledge. However, the interface makes it
difficult to remove or edit these numbers if needed. Data files can be
encrypted for added protection.
An Internet Security Check scans your system for
potential security problems: Out-of-date Internet software, installed
spyware or secretly-installed monitoring software. As with other Web ad
blockers, users can sometimes find that linked pages fail to open; in
that case, click the link again, this time holding down the Ctrl key. A
window informs you of the number of cookies, ads, Web bugs and pop-ups
that have been blocked.
A limited edition of McAfee's QuickClean application
cleans out your browser cache and history, along with removing deleted
Outlook Express e-mail messages, temporary files and other unwanted but
persistent data and files. Its Uninstaller feature can clean remnants
left behind with Windows' own Add/Remove Programs control panel. As
well, QuickClean can search and remove spyware and adware programs.
By downloading a bunch of applications (Zone Alarm
firewall, AdAware, an antivirus program and more), you could duplicate
most of its features, but the convenience of a single install and a
single interface make this worthwhile. Just don't forget to turn on the
McAfee Internet Security 5.0
Windows 98 or later; 32 MB RAM, 71 MB drive space.
Downloadable trial version available.