McAfee Internet Security. In the kingdom of boredom and ignorance.

mcafee-2011-front-guiI have installed McAfee Internet Security with 6-month complimentary subscription for Facebook users, but I’m confused to tell whether it is version 2010 or 2011, because it is not shown anywhere. Maybe it is just a smart marketing move, but I would call it a sneaky move, as the packaging design on their official website shows no difference. About window tells me the following: Security Center version is 10.5 and VirusScan 14.5.

First I’d like to say something good about McAfee IS. Installation went very easy and fast [screenshot] — no reboot required, no annoying registration forms, no nothing. Installation options were presented well [screenshot]. The program, once it is running, feels very light on system resources. It would be ridiculous to say that a McAfee application cannot get its job done, as well as Symantec these guys probably spent a fortune in Reasearch and Development and most tests and reviews say they are good. But there were some really surprising things to me.

Couldn’t-care-less Protection

mcafee-scan-finishedI take care of my files, and if there’s something I need to know — I need to know that in details. OK, Mcafee IS found few viruses during the scan of some downloaded samples and presented the report:

Ok, I want to see the details of the viruses and Trojans found in my files, so I click the links to see an explanation. A new window opens in the internet browser where I can see exactly that McAfee has empty database entries under the names W32/Autorun.worm!ji and Generic.gh. With risk assessment Low it probably means that they have no clue of what they found and how to prove it is a virus. Or maybe the engineers at McAfee just don’t care. Because for the suspect Artemis!83A917492B0D [screenshot] they even have no trace in the database, “page not found”, 404, you know. What did they find then? Not much, I’m afraid it just what is called “false positives” — files with inner structure elements which resemble elements of malware. And I don’t mind pointing to some dangerous areas, as no one can be 100% percent sure, but tell me something reasonable, suitable for a human. Literally: “We are not sure, but this file looks suspicious, click here if you want to know why… We suggest we delete it, or quarantine (isolate), so you could decide later what to do…” Here’s what I call human approach.

McAfee Firewall

Let’s look under the hood of McAfee firewall. First of all, outgoing traffic is allowed by default, whatever programs you have. That makes it very similar to built-in Windows Firewall. Is it acceptable to allow anything out? As McAfee says: Outgoing Access — Automatically allow programs on your PC only to send information over the Internet. Personal Firewall prompts you to allow or deny access when programs attempt to receive information, but not when they are sending it. We recommend this setting for most users. I think it is fine, yet some people may say it is a security breach.

Here’s some screenshots to describe McAfee firewall (click to enlarge):

  mcafee-winamp

Look at the second screenshot. The listed attack detection types are switched off by default. Actually, all of them are off. Why? McAfee call them “specific”, explaining the following: In some cases, turning on automatic detection for specific attack types can cause Personal Firewall to block data that is not supposed to be blocked. In other words, it is better to keep users in their ignorance, than have additional load on customer support. And the last screenshot above is the firewall prompt about WinAmp, referring to it as “unknown program”. Oh, come on! If you are lazy enough to ignore really popular programs, that’s not my problem. In that sense Norton is doing much better job with their Insight database.

User Interface

McAfee could not impress me with their security software user interface for the last few years. The previous one was a champion in confusing people, new one is much better from the confusion point of view — it very simple and clean as you can see. But still. Look at the two screenshots below (click to enlarge):

mcafee-scrolling 

Look at this overlapping scrolling (first screenshot, marked with red square). This decoration is called: “Who cares if it is convinient for users?” The second one is also nice, although it is just a bug.

The whole attitude in user interface from McAfee is saying: “We like you to be ignorant”. The concept that users are typically stupid and they all deserve listening to a robot instead of a human. And the natural reaction to that is BOREDOM, because there’s nothing exciting in talking to a robot.

Conclusion

McAffe Internet Security 2011 (or maybe 2010) is set-and-forget type of software. It will not bother you much. And don’t get me wrong, as a security software it is probably one of the best products according to the many tests results (I recently posted about its unbelievable heuristics), but I don’t like to be treated as an ignorant animal. And I don’t like boring interfaces.

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