F-Secure Internet Security 2009 has decent detection and a clear, informative interface, but other security packages offer stronger protection.

F-Secure Internet Security 2009 started with middling malware detection, and then it slipped further due to its generally slow scan speed and its lack of extra features, such as backup and antiphishing. The suite's reasonably intuitive and easy-to-use interface, as well as its useful startup wizard, weren't enough to outweigh its faults.

Unlike most suites, F-Secure Internet Security 2009 employs multiple scanning engines: its own, plus two others licensed from Kaspersky and Norman.

F-Secure Internet Security 2009 is also one of a few suites to introduce an internet-based aspect to their scans: the DeepGuard 2.0 feature sends a signature for a suspected malware file to F-Secure servers, where it's scanned against the latest and largest database of known bad actors.

But the multiple engines and the extra online scan unfortunately don't translate into an especially good malware detection rate. F-Secure Internet Security 2009 successfully identified 96.6 percent of AV-Test.org's zoo of 654,914 worms and other digital nasties, a result that landed it in fifth of all the 2009 security suites for malware detection.

F-Secure Internet Security 2009 did well with adware, as its 99.5 percent detection rate put it in second place in that category. It produced mixed results, however, in proactive tests measuring how well a suite responds to unknown threats. In heuristic tests that use two-week-old signature files, F-Secure's rate of 54.1 percent ranked third. But in another test that assesses how well a suite identifies malware based solely on its behaviour, F-Secure's package caught some aspect of the malware's behaviour in only a third of the cases.

The multiengine suite was also slow on scan speed, which affects the time necessary to open or access files. (Results were a bit better for on-demand scan speed, which comes into play in manually started or scheduled scans.) F-Secure Internet Security 2009 was likewise poky in quarantining discovered invaders. The suite can take several minutes to finish the task, during which time the program checks for any additional, related files, the company says.

Visit Security Advisor for the latest internet threat news, FREE net threat email newsletters, and internet security product reviews

The pop-up displayed before the program takes quarantine action is clear and informative. The one we saw after we attempted to download Zango adware labeled the file as ‘Adware:W32/ZangoSearch.A', and recommended putting the file in quarantine. The overall F-Secure Internet Security 2009 interface was well laid out and generally easy to use, too.

F-Secure Internet Security 2009's parental controls work a bit differently than those in most other suites. Instead of assigning a particular profile (like ‘child' or ‘teenager') to a particular Windows user account, you create a password for each profile so that you can use any profile from any Windows user account. When anyone opens a web browser - regardless of which Windows user that person is logged in as - they will start out using the ‘small child' profile, which blocks all pages not explicitly allowed. Typing in the ‘teenager' or ‘parent' password after clicking the appropriate link on the block page will switch to that profile.

F-Secure Internet Security 2009's antispam feature adds a button to Outlook Express, Outlook, and Windows Mail that permits allowing or filtering particular senders, but it has no option to label a specific message as spam. Also missing are an integrated system-backup function and the ability to block known phishing pages as you surf. (Though web browsers have their own built-in antiphishing features these days, most suites still include an extra layer of protection.)

NEXT PAGE: our original review, from December 2008

F-Secure Internet Security 2009 adds 64-bit Windows Vista support to its impressive reputation for finding and evicting malware

F-Secure Internet Security 2009 is a security suite comprising antivirus, antispyware, antispam, antiphishing and personal firewall tools for Windows PCs. Comparing to last year's model, improvements are modest. These include faster installation, a tweaked interface, improved anti-malware accuracy and support for 64-bit Vista.

F-Secure gave a trouble-free install on a clean PC and can automatically remove conflicting software it finds. However, check out YouTube for a clip showing F-Secure 2009 having serious trouble installing on a badly infected PC, a not unlikely scenario. For coping with situations like this, a bootable rescue CD ISO image is available for free download from F-Secure. There's also a free online scanner as well.

F-Secure licenses multiple AV technologies from other vendors and can scan files on demand, on access and on schedule. F-Secure Internet Security 2009 also scans in and outgoing POP3, SMTP and IMAP email messages.

The major independent AV group testers give F-Secure a pretty good, almost flawless, report card. ICSA Labs fully certified it for virus detection and cleaning and it has enjoyed VB100 awards for the past five years with just one exception. It's also been scored highly by AV-Comparatives and AV-Test.

In action, it can be slow dealing with infected files it detects, even though they may not actually be active - that is, they may be present in memory. F-Secure stops to look for other infections, real or imagined. It's thorough but erring on the side of caution can make it very slow.

The firewall puts all of your system's ports into stealth mode, making it invisible to outside hackers. It has a long list of ‘pre-approved' programs but it still asks many questions about allowing Internet access to programs. For example, the F-Secure tool for gathering system data for tech support is a standard tool, nslookup - which F-Secure didn't recognise.

F-Secure's antispam subtly integrates with Vista's Windows Mail (adding its own Sidebar gadget). All MS email clients are supported and it's easy to use others such as Thunderbird.

The spam filter worked well, correctly identifying and moving spam to the Deleted Items folder without further ado. It can also make use of Real-time Block Lists to improve its accuracy. It's a shame it doesn't ‘whitelist' automatically.

NEXT PAGE: Our expert verdict >>

Visit Security Advisor for the latest internet threat news, FREE net threat email newsletters, and internet security product reviews

F-Secure Internet Security 2009: Specs

  • Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Intel Pentium III 600MHz or higher, 256MB RAM, 600MB disk space during installation, Internet Explorer 5.0 or better, CD-ROM & internet connection
  • Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Intel Pentium III 600MHz or higher, 256MB RAM, 600MB disk space during installation, Internet Explorer 5.0 or better, CD-ROM & internet connection

OUR VERDICT

F-Secure Internet Security 2009 did an okay job at detecting malware, and it's a generally easy-to-use application. But when it comes to keeping your computer safe, you'll want better than just okay.

Find the best price