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McAfee Antivirus Plus

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McAfee Antivirus PlusPROS: Touch-friendly interface is ready for Windows 8. No-hassle firewall. SiteAdvisor earned best-ever antiphishing score. SiteAdvisor now marks dangerous links on social networking sites. QuickClean clears out useless files. Secure deletion. Vulnerability scan. Links to many useful security resources.

CONS: Installation on malware-infested systems required hours and hours of interaction with tech support. Firewall doesn't fully protect the product's essential services. So-so score in malware removal tests, both PCMag's and independent. Average score in malware blocking test.

BOTTOM LINE: McAfee's developers are serious about the "Plus" in McAfee AntiVirus Plus. In addition to basic antivirus functionality, it offers firewall protection, vulnerability scanning, system cleanup, and more. Its SiteAdvisor toolbar beat out all others in phishing protection. However, the core antivirus technology doesn't score as well as many in independent tests and PCMag's own tests.

Introduction

The best to protect your computer is to get the latest antivirus on your computer with the best definition updates. Today there is a huge completion to push the security standers to the next level. Many security giants like Norton and MacAfee have been working hard to come up with the new and innovative to make sure there user get the best possible protection. Today we will review the latest product launch from McAfee AntiVirus Plus.

Interface

The new antivirus from McAfee has some new improved features and have been popular for its strong, defending and protecting of your computer. The central Navigation offers you the view of all the available tools in one list. Even the important tools like log files and history of the scan are easily accessible with help of this list. You can see the log for the last 30 days in the log files, which would include the list of program or infection blocked in the past 30 days.

Safe Web browsing

The new features that are included are the safety index of the website helps you to browse safely as it warns you with different color index which one is more safe for you to use. Thus, you are less likely to end up with any specious website.

Data management

We often wonder what if someone could recover the important data from our computer even if delete it. McAfee has come up with the new tools in the antivirus that will help you to delete the files from your computer permanently thus no one can retrieve the files without any delay.

Managing the Junk files

We all realize that after a while our computer turns out to be slow and it makes the computer slow. It is not more a secret that, after a long use the computer becomes slow because of unused junk files, temp files and cookies. Thus the new tool from McAfee helps you to clean the junk and unwanted files called and the tool is called McAfee Quick cleaner.

Scanning the Removable drives

McAfee has included the new features which run a quick scan on the removable disk when it is connected to the computer for any infection or malicious program so that your computer is safe and is not infected.

Long Installation

The installation however was not impressive at all as it took longer than most of the antivirus and top of it, it was slow and did required a reboot. You could have not asked for worst, and the updates fail. We did run a full scan and then eventually the updates came through. The installation does not complete here, if it finds the traces of old antivirus and Trojan or any low risk program it would pop up and prompt for a restart and you may get the same message in a loop. The features are good but installation can be a nightmare.

Difficult Installation

At one point in the installation process, McAfee's installer announces, "Please wait while we clean threats on your computer so your installation will be trouble-free." If only that were true! In fact, getting McAfee installed on my 12 malware-infested test systems was a real nightmare.

On eight of the systems, it did install and run with a few minor problems. I had to run the scan in Safe Mode on one system, because malware interfered. Another didn't install correctly at first, but worked fine after a full uninstall and reinstall.

One of the test systems can only in Safe Mode, because a ransomware program demands money to enable normal Windows bootup. McAfee will scan in Safe Mode, but it can only install under normal Windows. McAfee's Stinger tool targets specific Trojans and other malware that can interfere with the full antivirus. Stinger got rid of the ransomware, but after installation McAfee wouldn't update. A session with live chat support and remote assistance solved that one.

The activation and update processes failed on another system because malware actively blocked access to McAfee's websites. Stinger didn't help on that one, so I booted from McAfee's CleanBoot Recovery Disc and ran a full scan. That solved the problem.

Tough malware on a third system blocked installation. I ran Stinger and Cleanboot to no avail. After a lengthy remote assistance session, the support agent passed me along to Tier 2 support. Tier 2 eventually escalated my case to a free session with McAfee's Virus Removal Team. They eventually solved the problem, but wow, it took a lot of time.

That wasn't the worst, though. After McAfee installation, the fourth system lost all connectivity to the Internet. Stinger and Cleanboot didn't help. With no connectivity, I couldn't get remote assistance. I had to stay on the phone with tech support, following the agent's instructions, for more than two hours to solve the problem.

Average Malware Cleanup

After all that effort to get the product installed, I would have been pleased to at least see super results in my malware removal test. Unfortunately, just as with last year's version, McAfee turned in a so-so performance in this test. In fact, its 5.3 point score for overall malware removal is exactly the same as the version got using my previous malware collection. A score of 5.3 is also the average for products tested with my current collection.

None of the products I've tested do a perfect job cleaning up malware, but the best ones do quite a bit better. Norton and Webroot both scored 6.6 points in the overall malware removal test. Kaspersky Anti-Virus, Daily Safety Check Home Edition, and AVG Anti-Virus FREE all managed 6.5 points.

Better at Blocking Attacks

Naturally I had no trouble installing McAfee on my clean test system, and it mostly did a good job of blocking malware attacks on that system. It was especially effective at preventing download of malware by blocking access to the malware-hosting site. It even blocked a number of URLs that aren't currently active but definitely did host malware in the past. In a few cases it didn't block the URL but did eliminate the file before the download could finish.

One way or another, McAfee blocked 91 percent of the malware downloads. That's quite good, though Norton, Trend Micro Titanium Antivirus+ , and VIPRE Internet Security all blocked 100 percent.

Next I opened a folder containing the same set of malware samples, downloaded previously. McAfee quickly wiped out nearly 90 percent of those. I also checked its reaction to a folder containing hand-modified versions of the same samples. For each sample, I changed the name, tweaked some non-executable bytes, and appended nulls to change the file size. Most antivirus products detect almost all the same files, tweaked or not. Surprisingly, McAfee missed almost two-thirds of the hand-modified files.

To complete the test, I launched the handful of samples that weren't wiped out on sight. It identified one of them as a "Potentially Unwanted Program" and asked permission to remove it. The rest installed without hindrance, including one rootkit-enabled keylogger. McAfee detected 89 percent of the samples and scored 8.9 points, a fraction above the current average of 8.8., Webroot has the best malware blocking score among current products with a near-perfect 9.9 points.

Lab Results Good, Not Great

In testing by various independent labs, McAfee earned good ratings. West Coast Labs and ICSA Labs both certify McAfee's technology for both virus detection and virus removal; West Coast adds Platinum certification. It achieved VB100 certification in five of the last six tests by Virus Bulletin.

AV-Comparatives rated McAfee ADVANCED+, the highest rating, in a test of its ability to detect malware on demand. However, in a lengthy test of the product's ability to defend against real-world fresh threats, McAfee earned a STANDARD rating, the lowest passing grade.

Bonus Firewall

If you can't afford a full security suite, we recommend antivirus and firewall as a minimum level of protection. With McAfee, you get both.

I attacked a test system using port scans and other Web-based tests. McAfee correctly stealthed all ports and resisted those attacks. When I tried to disable it using techniques that could be embedded in a malicious program, it did a decent job of self-protection. I couldn't halt its processes using Task Manager, and its Registry configuration settings are protected against external change.

However, McAfee's protection doesn't extend to all of its essential services. I easily disabled eight of its essential services; it protected the other four. The main window still reported "Your computer is secure," but attempting tasks like launching a scan triggered error messages. I'd like to see it protect all essential services, not just some.

In its default "Smart Access" mode, the firewall automatically configures Internet access for all programs, determining whether they're allowed incoming and outgoing connections. For programs that aren't at the top trust level, it enables the new NetGuard technology. NetGuard works to contain 'bots and other network-centric threats by blocking access to risky Internet addresses.

The edition is supposed to have improved protection against malware that tries to evade program control by manipulating or masquerading as a trusted program. Leak test utilities demonstrate these evasion techniques without adding a malicious payload. When I ran ten leak test utilities, McAfee detected exactly one. Since it was not malicious, the firewall allowed it to access the Internet.

High-end firewalls do their best to block exploits, Web-based attacks that take advantage of vulnerabilities in Windows, the browser, or other applications. When I attacked the McAfee test system using the Core IMPACT penetration tool, it detected roughly a third of the exploits. Norton Antivirus doesn't include a full firewall, but its exploit protection blocked every single attack at the network level, before any of them even reached the test system.

SiteAdvisor Better Than Ever

The SiteAdvisor toolbar, installed along with McAfee AntiVirus, rates websites and search results as good, iffy, or dangerous. Purchased by McAfee some years ago, SiteAdvisor was among the first Web reputation toolbars. I've always been impressed with the level of detail SiteAdvisor provides about why it rates a site as dangerous. With the product line, McAfee has raised the bar with new features and improved protection against phishing sites.

There's a whole category of Facebook malware that works by convincing you to click on what seems to be an interesting link. In some cases, clicking that link on a friend's page will allow the malware to post a similar status on your own page. Other times the link leads to a drive-by download that will install full-scale malware. New in the edition, SiteAdvisor marks up links found on your social networking pages, not just in search results.

A Nice Package

McAfee AntiVirus Plus offers more features than many antivirus products. Its bonus features include a firewall, a system cleaner, a vulnerability scanner, and more. The SiteAdvisor Web reputation tool now marks up links on social networking sites, and its phishing protection is simply the best.

It's true that McAfee didn't score all that well on my malware cleanup test, or in some of the independent lab tests. If the wealth of bonuses inspires you to install it on a system that may not be malware-free, consider running a free cleanup-only tool like Comodo Cleaning Essentials first. That should help you avoid installation nightmares like what I encountered.

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