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McAfee sets Falcon free

Updated security products based on Falcon technology are designed to rival Symantec and Microsoft software.

McAfee has updated its consumer security products, promising integrated protection against a plethora of threats.

On Tuesday, the Santa Clara, Calif., company released four different protection suites and a standalone wireless security application. The suites--McAfee Total Protection, McAfee Internet Security Suite, McAfee PC Protection Plus and McAfee VirusScan Plus--are based on the company's new Falcon technology and are designed to compete with products from Symantec and security market newcomer Microsoft.

The product news comes on the same day McAfee said it had fixed a vulnerability in current versions of its consumer security software that might put systems at risk of attack and compromise.

The four McAfee editions vary in the number of security features included, which means people can choose to buy a less-comprehensive package. In addition, by offering a range, McAfee can try to sell its customers a more expensive option at a premium price. By contrast, Microsoft's Windows Live OneCare and Symantec's upcoming Norton 360 are pitched as "one size fits all."

"I think that it is a great move for McAfee," said Natalie Lambert, an analyst with Forrester Research. "They are able to have an offering that will work for anybody. Their basic offering will be less expensive, while the highest one has features the competition does not have."

The company's products include new technology, called McAfee X-Ray for Windows, to combat threats such as rootkits. They also have a feature to securely delete files, dubbed McAfee Shredder. On top of these, a network manager in all products lets people monitor security on all systems on the home network.

The four McAfee suites are priced per a yearly subscription and include the basic security technologies--antivirus, anti-spyware and firewall. Additionally, all editions come with SiteAdvisor, which adds ratings to Web search results, and with PC health tools to handle tasks such as hard-drive defragmentation.

At the bottom of the new McAfee lineup is McAfee VirusScan Plus, which for $39.99 provides only the basic software. Next is McAfee PC Protection Plus, which has extra tools to let users back up data. Priced at $49.99, it is being pitched as McAfee's response to OneCare, which costs $49.95 for use on up to three PCs.

The $69.99 McAfee Internet Security Suite adds phishing and spam shields, as well as parental controls. Furthermore, it promises to warn people when personal data such as a credit card number is being transmitted to the Internet, for ID theft protection.

At the top of the line is the $79.99 McAfee Total Protection, which has wireless network security as the only distinguishing feature over the Internet Security Suite. The McAfee Wireless Protection technology is also being sold as a separate product, which costs $29.99 for the download.

Current McAfee customers who pay annually for the products will receive the upgrade in a phased introduction, McAfee said.