McAfee Internet Security Suite 2009 is the latest iteration of security giant McAfee's internet security suite, featuring Artemis, a new internet-based malware detection feature.

Offsetting Artemis and McAfee's otherwise generally good malware detection rate, however, were its slow scanning speed, its interface annoyances, and its very poor performance in proactive, behavioural detection tests.

In AV-Test.org's malware-detection tests, which use 654,914 collected malware samples and then measure how well antivirus detects the nasties, McAfee Internet Security Suite 2009 performed respectably.

It caught 97.4 percent of malware thrown at it, although McAfee Internet Security Suite 2009 lagged with a 90 percent success rate at identifying spyware varieties that steal passwords and financial information.

These results mean that McAfee Internet Security Suite 2009 doesn't quite compare to the score of about 99 percent for top performers such as the Avira security suite and the Norton security suite, but is much better than the sorry 55.7 percent rate that the Trend Micro package produced with password stealers.

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The new Artemis feature sends a signature of to-be-scanned files over the Internet to McAfee's servers, which can then compare the files against a much larger and more up-to-date signature database that the one that resides on your PC. Artemis probably contributed to McAfee Internet Security Suite 2009's decent showing.

On the other hand, McAfee Internet Security Suite 2009's performance in behavioural tests, which examine how well antivirus products can identify unknown malware based solely on how it acts, was dismal. McAfee's package was able to warn about some aspect of malware behaviour for only 2 out of 15 samples, or 13 percent of the time.

McAfee Internet Security Suite 2009 also failed in scan speed tests. It was second to last of all the 2009 suites we've tested for on-access scan speed, which refers to how quickly files are scanned when you access or open them. It did somewhat better in on-demand speed, which involves scheduled and manually run scans, although it is by no means the quickest.

NEXT PAGE: McAfee's interface

McAfee Internet Security Suite 2009 is the latest iteration of security giant McAfee's internet security suite, featuring Artemis, a new internet-based malware detection feature.

McAfee Internet Security Suite 2009: interface

In line with the suite's inconsistent performance, McAfee's interface is good in some ways and less appealing in others. McAfee Internet Security Suite 2009 does a good job at organising features into intuitive categories such as ‘Computer & Files' or ‘Internet & Network', and generally it provides good information up front.

But surprisingly it lacks context-sensitive help, so if you click the help link while viewing the useful network map, for instance, you won't go straight to the relevant help section; instead you'll have to manually search or sift through the topics to find the information you need.

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That said, McAfee Internet Security Suite 2009 does offer some convenient touches. Most notable: on the aforementioned network map, you can click the icon for your home network router to bring up its web configuration page in your browser.

Less well-designed is McAfee Internet Security Suite 2009's handling of a common adware file. When we attempted to download a screen saver from Zango that installs adware that most people would prefer to keep off their PCs, McAfee's suite correctly displayed a warning about the download attempt, but the only remediation option was to remove the program. Electing to do so brought up a McAfee uninstaller, which failed because the Zango program wasn't actually installed.

McAfee Internet Security Suite 2009 did the same thing when we scanned the Zango adware on an attached thumb drive. The suite might have become confused by Registry entries added by the site or download, but other suites were able to successfully get rid of the entries and the file.

PCWorld.com

NEXT PAGE: our expert verdict

McAfee Internet Security Suite 2009: Specs

  • Microsoft Windows 2000 (32-bit) with Service Pack 4 (SP4) or higher, Windows XP (32-bit) with Service Pack 1 (SP1) or higher, Windows Vista (32 or 64-bit)
  • 800 X 600 or higher resolution
  • 256MB RAM
  • 150MB of available free drive space
  • internet connection
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 or later/Mozilla Firefox 1.5 or later
  • Anti-spam fully integrates with the following email clients: Outlook Express, Windows Mail, Outlook 2000 or later, Qualcomm Eudora, Thunderbird 1.5 or later. Anti-Spam also supports any other POP3 email client (without SSL) and web accounts (MSN/Hotmail paid accounts and accounts with POP3 access)
  • Microsoft Windows 2000 (32-bit) with Service Pack 4 (SP4) or higher, Windows XP (32-bit) with Service Pack 1 (SP1) or higher, Windows Vista (32 or 64-bit)
  • 800 X 600 or higher resolution
  • 256MB RAM
  • 150MB of available free drive space
  • internet connection
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 or later/Mozilla Firefox 1.5 or later
  • Anti-spam fully integrates with the following email clients: Outlook Express, Windows Mail, Outlook 2000 or later, Qualcomm Eudora, Thunderbird 1.5 or later. Anti-Spam also supports any other POP3 email client (without SSL) and web accounts (MSN/Hotmail paid accounts and accounts with POP3 access)

OUR VERDICT

You'll find a wide array of features in McAfee Internet Security Suite 2009, including backups, parental controls and antispam, along with smaller offerings such as a file shredder. And the suite did a decent job at detecting malicious software in tests. But for protecting your PC, you have superior alternatives.

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