capsule review

F-Secure Internet Security 2009 Security Software

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At a Glance
  • F-Secure Internet Security 2009

F-Secure Internet Security 2009 ($60 for three users as of 12/23/08) ranked an unimpressive seventh out of the group of nine in "Paying for Protection," our 2009 roundup of security suites. It 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's employs multiple scanning engines: its own, plus two others licensed from Kaspersky and Norman. It's 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's suite successfully identified 96.6 percent of's zoo of 654,914 worms and other digital nasties, a result that landed it in fifth for malware detection.

The suite 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 behavior, F-Secure's package was second to last, catching some aspect of the malware's behavior in only a third of the cases.

The multiengine suite was last in rankings for on-access 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 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.

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 program interface was well laid out and generally easy to use, too.

F-Secure'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.

The suite'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.)

F-Secure's 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.

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At a Glance
  • F-Secure's package has decent detection and a clear, informative interface, but other suites offer stronger protection.


    • Easy to use
    • Online detection feature


    • Slow scan speed
    • Average malware detection
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