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F-Secure Internet Security 2005 review: F-Secure Internet Security 2005

F-Secure Internet Security 2005

Jeff Bertolucci
5 min read
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 Norton AntiVirus 2005, F-Secure plays it safe by offering optional presetup and postsetup virus scans that catch viruses, Trojan horses, and worms lurking in your PC. McAfee VirusScan 9.0, 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.


F-Secure Internet Security 2005

The Good

Includes new tools for fighting spyware and spam; Parental Control feature blocks offensive Internet content.

The Bad

No online chat or phone support; slightly more expensive than Norton Internet Security Suite 2005.

The Bottom Line

F-Secure Internet Security 2005 bundles first-rate antivirus and firewall protection with spam- and spyware-fighting tools.
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The start-up wizard in F-Secure Internet Security 2005 does a fine job of stepping you through the setup process.

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 vigilant at fighting viral miscreants and hacker attacks.

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F-Secure Internet Security 2005's main screen provides an easy-to-grasp overview of your computer's security status.

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 Trend Micro PC-cillin Internet Security 2005's or eTrust EZ Antivirus 2005's. 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.)

Our test system was a Dell Dimension 8200, running Windows XP Professional, with an Intel Pentium 4 1.9GHz processor and 256MB of RDRAM. With F-Secure running, our test system scored a respectable 95, meaning there was a 5 percent reduction in overall system speed. By comparison, Norton AntiVirus 2005 and McAfee VirusScan 9.0 both scored a 94, a 6 percent reduction. Only Trend Micro PC-cillin Internet Security 2005 and eTrust ezAntivirus 2005 scored 100, or a 0 percent reduction. (An Internet-content-creation score of 100 represents the performance of our test system without any extraneous software running.) In a test of scanning speed, F-Secure took an average of 6.97 minutes to scan a 1.3GB directory--nowhere near as fast as speed demon PC-cillin, which averaged a speedy 2.4 minutes.

  SysMark 2002 Internet-content-creation (ICC) score Normalized score Percent degradation Average boot time (sec.) Scan 1.3GB directory, average scan time (min.)
Test system 233 100 n/a 38.9 n/a
F-Secure Internet Security 2005 221 95 5 79 6.97
Trend Micro PC-cillin Internet Security 2005 233 100 0 58 2.21
eTrust EZ Antivirus 2005 233 100 0 47 2.56
McAfee VirusScan 9.0 219 94 6 51 6.68
Norton AntiVirus 2005 220 94 6 71 6.1

In VirusBulletin tests since November 2000, the Windows desktop version of F-Secure has passed five out of the eight tests. By comparison, over the same period, Norton AntiVirus has been tested 10 times and earned the coveted VB 100 percent title each time. Norton AntiVirus is one of the few products we test that consistently wins the VB 100 percent award. Previous versions of F-Secure have also been certified by the independent antivirus testing laboratories at West Coast Checkmark, ICSA Labs, and Checkvir.com.

In informal testing, F-Secure's firewall scored rock-solid results when tested against the Gibson Research Corporation ShieldsUp site, which gauges a computer's protection against hacker intrusions. F-Secure prevented our test PC from divulging any information. In comparison, McAfee VirusScan no longer includes a firewall, and Norton AntiVirus, which has never included a firewall, comes instead with a limited port-blocking technology that proved to be not as secure a full-strength firewall in ShieldsUp testing.

Perhaps because the company is based in Finland, F-Secure offers fewer U.S. technical-support options than its competitors. For instance, F-Secure doesn't provide telephone assistance to Internet Security 2005 users. By comparison, Symantec, McAfee, and Trend Micro (maker of PC-cillin) all offer phone assistance, although only Trend Micro provides this service for free. Unlike McAfee, F-Secure doesn't offer online chat support.

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The F-Secure support site is easy to navigate but could use more installation and troubleshooting advice for Internet Security 2005.

E-mail help is available, however, and we found F-Secure's e-mail support staff to be knowledgeable and polite. Our queries were answered within 24 hours during the Monday through Friday workweek. Installation and troubleshooting advice for Internet Security 2005 was scarce on F-Secure's support site, but that's probably because the product was new when we tested it.


F-Secure Internet Security 2005

Score Breakdown

Setup 8Features 8Performance 8Support 7