F-Secure is a Finnish company, founded in 1988, which produces a range of anti-virus and internet security (IS) software. The latest incarnation of its IS suite, F-Secure Internet Security 2013 includes anti-virus and anti-spyware detection, a two-way firewall and anti-spam and phishing filters.

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There is no parental control, PC tune-up or online backup included in the package, one of the reasons for its comparatively low price when compared to £50+ packages. There are versions for one or three Windows PCs and for one or two years.

The interface is simple, with a main screen showing three panels, for Status, Tools and Statistics, and three icons at the bottom to set scans, check for updates and access settings.

Browser security is built in and banking protection cuts in as soon as you log in to an online banking site.

We never completed our testing of last year’s version of F-Secure Internet Security, as the scans took so long to complete we felt there must be an installation problem. Consulting with the company’s tech support did not resolve the problem

We tried again with the 2013 version and hit a scan time of nearly 12 hours for the 25,046 files examined. Most anti-virus software we test completes in a few minutes.

This time the scan log reported five files that one of the program’s scanners couldn’t scan. Rerunning the scan produced a similar time of 11 hours 22 mins for 23,733 files.

Our 50GB test basket is made up of five folders, each containing the same 10GB of mixed files; some executables, some archives, some data files, so if a scan fails on a file, we’d expect it to fail for the five occurrences of that same file.

However, we’ve reviewed 20 different makes of IS using the same test data and F-Secure is the first to have trouble with the file in question (an .msi file containing an old version of Futuremark’s PC Mark Vantage).

We tried removing the five file copies from the test set and reran the scan. This time it completed in 22 minutes 45 seconds, a much more reasonable time.

We also ran the scan on the same complete 50GB test basket on a different PC. This took 1 hour 54 minutes; but strangely only 16,167 files were selected for scanning this time.

Both machines were running Windows 7, and the first machine had the files on an exteranl eSATA drive, while the second had it on its internal C drive. We can’t account for the discrepancy, with only around half as many files selected by the same anti-virus software for scanning by our usual test PC.

F-Secure uses four different scanning engines – named Hydra, Aquarius, Gemini and Online after mythical Greek, Roman and Extreme Angling characters – and combines the results to warn of possible threats.

At the end of January, the German test site, AV-Test awarded F-Secure one of two 2012 Awards for Internet Security 2012.

It won both an overall award and one as the best Home Protection product of last year. The 2013 product scored 15.5/18.0 in its latest group test. This breaks down to 6.0/6.0 for Protection, 5.0/6.0 for Repair and 4.5/6.0 for Usability, the three measurement categories.

Under its last lab test, Protection result was almost perfect, only dropping one percent in detection of new malware and with a 100 percent detection of the sample zero-day and established threats.

Repair results were well above average throughout and Usability showed a lower than average machine slowdown and fewer false positives.

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F-Secure Internet Security 2013

A one-year licence for F-Secure Internet Security 2013 costs £42.49 for a single PC or laptop licence, £50.99 for up to three PCs and £84.99 for up to three PCs  came in first in several of our malware detection, blocking, and removal tests. This security software successfully blocked attacks, detected and disabled infections, and proved adept at cleaning up all traces of malware, landing at the top of our tests' of this year's internet security suitesSee also: TOP 5 INTERNET SECURITY SUITES.

F-Secure Internet Security 2013: test scores

In our real-world attack test, F-Secure completely blocked 100 percent of attacks. This test indicates how well the product will successfully block new malware attacks as it encounters them in the wild.

F-Secure also put up great scores in our malware-zoo detection test: The suite detected 99 percent of known malware samples. This score puts it in the top five of the security suites we tested, though it's at the bottom of that group. F-Secure flagged just two safe files (out of over 250,000) as malicious, which is a good false-positive rate overall. However, since four of the suites achieved a perfect score in false-positive testing, and two suites flagged only one safe file as malicious, on this measure F-Secure still ends up in the bottom half of the list.

In our system cleanup test, F-Secure performed very well. In fact, it's at the top of the list (alongside Bitdefender) after detecting and disabling all infections on our test PC and completely removing 90 percent of infections. So F-Secure should effectively dispatch any malware it finds on your machine.

While F-Secure does an excellent job of detecting, disabling, blocking, and cleaning up malware, all of this power comes at a price (a small one, to be sure): F-Secure added 6 seconds to startup time (compared to a system with no antivirus software installed)--the worst showing out of all of the suites we tested. It also added 5 seconds to shutdown time. F-Secure performed well in the rest of our PC speed tests overall, but it significantly slowed application installation.

F-Secure Internet Security 2013: scanning speeds

Scanning speeds were better, though. F-Secure took second place in both on-demand (manual) scan tests (1 minute, 16 seconds) and on-access (automatic) scans (3 minutes, 50 seconds). Both results are better than average by a healthy margin.

The suite installs quickly and easily, with just four screens to click through and no restart required. It doesn't install any extras (such as a toolbar), nor does it change any of your default settings. It does install a launcher, which is what you open when you double-click the program's system tray icon. The launcher has three buttons to take you to different program screens: a computer-security screen, an online-safety screen, and a third for F-Secure's website.

F-Secure's user interface is sleek and easy to understand. It presents a large round checkmark (or X mark) that shows your protection status, as well as three modules for checking your security status, F-Secure's extra tools and features, and statistics and reports. Below these modules is a scan button, an update button, and a settings button. The settings are fairly easy to get around, and each screen has a quick explanation of what the feature does and how it works.

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal

F-Secure Internet Security 2013: Specs

  • Processor: Intel Pentium 4 or equivalent
  • Memory requirements: minimum 512 MB
  • Disk Space: 800 MB free HD space
  • High speed Internet connection to validate your subscription and receive updates. The system must fulfill Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8 minimum requirements as specified by Microsoft
  • Processor: Intel Pentium 4 or equivalent
  • Memory requirements: minimum 512 MB
  • Disk Space: 800 MB free HD space
  • High speed Internet connection to validate your subscription and receive updates. The system must fulfill Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8 minimum requirements as specified by Microsoft

OUR VERDICT

With excellent protection and a user-friendly interface, F-Secure is definitely worth a look. This security package adds a little extra weight to your system, but if you can get past those performance issues, it's a great program.

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