F-Secure Internet Security 2005 is a significant upgrade over last year's version of this comprehensive security package. It adds a host of new security tools, including spyware and spam fighters, as well as the parent/kid-friendly ability to block offensive Web content. Its antivirus engine is effective at blocking viral intruders without overtaxing system resources, and the F-Secure interface is logical and easy to navigate, too. But the software package is priced a few dollars higher--$10 or more--than comparably equipped competitors such as Symantec Norton Internet Suite 2005 or McAfee Internet Security 2005. And for the extra money we'd like to see better technical support, including phone and online chat, which F-Secure doesn't offer to its Internet Security users. Overall, though, this package is a solid suite from one of the worldwide antivirus leaders that's bound to block most digital dangers and that won't slow your system doing so. F-Secure Internet Security 2005 offers an easy but lengthy setup routine. Like Symantec , F-Secure plays it safe by offering optional presetup and postsetup virus scans that catch viruses, Trojan horses, and worms lurking in your PC. , by comparison, installs without prescanning your system, which is faster. However, a preinstall scan is helpful if you fear your computer is already infected. Unfortunately, the two setup scans do add a lot of time to the installation. In our test, setup took 15 minutes without the scans and a let's-grab-lunch 81 minutes with both.
After setup, the system reboots and F-Secure loads its start-up wizard, an easy-to-follow guide to configuring security settings. The wizard's default settings are appropriate for most users. For instance, F-Secure is preconfigured to run a weekly scan every Friday whenever the computer is idle for five minutes or longer. Surprisingly, another default setting instructs F-Secure to seek your input when it detects a virus, asking whether to clean, delete, or ignore. Competing virus fighters from Symantec, McAfee, and others simply disinfect the file, quietly moving it to a quarantined folder on your hard drive--a less intrusive approach.
Overall, the F-Secure interface is very good. A main page provides a security overview: green icons give the thumbs-up to current antivirus, firewall, spam, and parental control settings, but yellow icons indicate a problem. Some subsections could do a better job explaining specific features. For instance, the Spam Control screen offers three choices, Aggressive, Optimal, and Relaxed, but doesn't explain the pros and cons of each. You'll have to click the Help button in the lower-left corner to get a one-paragraph overview of these settings.F-Secure Internet Security 2005 adds plenty of new features, including antispam technology to filter out unsolicited e-mail, spyware detection and removal, and a Parental Control feature that blocks Internet pages that reference drugs, gambling, sex, and other objectionables. F-Secure's core security tools--antivirus and firewall--remain .
F-Secure's new antispyware tool is based on Lavasoft's highly regarded Ad-aware engine, which detects and removes adware, spyware, data-miners, and other secretly installed parasites. Better yet, F-Secure's spyware detector is integrated with the virus scanner, meaning you don't have to run a separate spyware scan--a smart approach found in competing security apps.
There's also a new antispam filter that is easy to use. In Outlook 2000 or later, for instance, F-Secure inserts its Spam Control button on the Outlook toolbar. You click the button to add an e-mail address or a domain name to your list of filtered senders, increase or decrease the spam fighter's aggressiveness, and so on. We also like the Parental Control feature, which filters objectionable Web content and lets you password-protect specific sites.In CNET Labs' tests, F-Secure Internet Security 2005 produced only a 5 percent system reduction, less than Norton's and McAfee's but more than or . F-Secure also took longer to scan our 1.3GB hard drive than did either PC-cillin or EZ Antivirus.
To measure F-Secure's impact on system performance, CNET Labs used BAPCo's SysMark 2002, an industry-standard benchmark. The Internet-content-creation portion of SysMark measures a desktop's performance running off-the-shelf applications such as Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft Windows Media Encoder, and Macromedia Dreamweaver. (We did not run the office-productivity portion of the benchmark because it incorporates McAfee VirusScan 5.13.)