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F-Secure Internet Security 2009 review: F-Secure Internet Security 2009

F-Secure Internet Security 2009

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Robert Vamosi
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Robert Vamosi

Former Editor

As CNET's former resident security expert, Robert Vamosi has been interviewed on the BBC, CNN, MSNBC, and other outlets to share his knowledge about the latest online threats and to offer advice on personal and corporate security.

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F-Secure Internet Security 2009 is a complete suite of antivirus, antispyware, antispam, antiphishing, and personal firewall tools for personal desktops. We've been hearing good things and looking forward to reviewing F-Secure for years, however, several little things bothered us about this release. F-Secure Internet Security 2009 costs more than the competition without adding any "must have" features; the firewall prompts were noisy; and we noticed local system degradation on some of our test machines, even though in formal CNET Labs testing, the product performance was on par with its 2009 competition. Our uncertainty about F-Secure Internet Security 2009 continued to effectiveness testing--one of the test organizations reported high marks, the other did not. In the end it's not the performance, but the cost, roughly $20 to $30 more than the competition, that holds us back.

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6.7

F-Secure Internet Security 2009

The Good

F-Secure Internet Security 2009 uses multiple antivirus engines; includes a disk utility feature; and has an online tutorial.

The Bad

F-Secure Internet Security 2009 costs more than the competition; hides its disk utility feature; has a noisy firewall; and suffers from some uneven system performance and antimalware effectiveness in third-party testing.

The Bottom Line

While offering roughly the same features and performance as its competition, F-Secure Internet Security 2009 is about $20 too expensive.

Installation
We had no problems installing F-Secure Internet Security 2009. A reboot is required. We did, however, have trouble with one or two installations. Although the CNET Labs tests showed F-Secure performs on par with its competitors, we noticed in one installation a marked slowdown in system performance. A second installation did not show this.

Should you decide to uninstall, F-Secure does not provide its own uninstaller. You must use the Microsoft uninstaller found in Add and Remove Programs within the Command Console. After a reboot we found no Registry files, but we did find several program and log files in an F-Secure directory tree on the root drive.

Interface
The F-Secure interface is clean. The left-hand navigation is clean, as is the right window pane where details appear. Configuration settings are no more than one click away for those who want to change a setting.

Missing is the obvious "Scan now" option; we found it later, though.

Features
F-Secure Internet Security 2009 covers all the bases, including antivirus, antispam, antispyware, and firewall protection. There's even parental control built in (not a separate download). But beyond that, there wasn't some additional feature this year that stood out as groundbreaking.

For antivirus protection, F-Secure licenses multiple antivirus technologies from other vendors. This has the potential to knock F-Secure out of the ballpark, yet it doesn't. While it gets very high marks in live malware testing in one test, another testing organization scored it considerably lower. While the F-Secure malware scan on our test machine was thorough, finding one virus on our machine that other scanners had not identified, when it came time to remove the malware, we were presented with a choice. Huh? Most antivirus products today simply quarantine the offending file for later inspection, but F-Secure stops and makes you decide before progressing. While you can configure the removal options, we found the default surprising.

We also found the F-Secure firewall to be especially noisy, more so than usual. Not only did F-Secure not recognize common programs like Skype and Google Toolbar update, but it continually flagged us about a copy of Secunia's scanner (in beta) on our test machine--even after we clicked "allow." The messaging is also a problem. Most programs use a discrete pop-up in the lower right corner of the desktop. F-Secure uses a rather large message space in the middle of the screen shortly after boot. We'd appreciate it if F-Secure could in future releases increase its white list of known programs and also reduce the amount of space its messages occupy.

There's also a disk utility program but it is separate from the Internet Security Suite itself. If you didn't know it existed, you might not even notice it. We think that's bad because it can be very good (depending on the state of your machine).

Performance
In CNET Labs' performance tests, F-Secure Internet Security 2009, in general, scored on par with the competition. In third-party, independent antivirus testing using live viruses, F-Secure Internet Security 2009 scored mixed results. On the CNET iTunes test, F-Secure Internet Security 2009 came in at 273 seconds, which put at the bottom of the list. On the CNET Microsoft Office test, F-Secure Internet Security 2009 came in the middle at 1,454.33 seconds. In a test scanning a single folder with compressed and media files, F-Secure Internet Security 2009 completed this test in 359 seconds, which was significantly longer than Kaspersky, Norton, and Trend Micro. Although in terms of boot speed, F-Secure Internet Security 2009 took 31.89 seconds, which was faster than Norton and Kaspersky.

To find out how we test antivirus software, see CNET Labs' How we test: Antivirus software page.

In terms of whether F-Secure Internet Security 2009 will protect your PC, we cite results from two leading independent antivirus testing organizations. The results are mixed. From AV-test.org, F-Secure Internet Security 2009 found 99 percent of the malicious software and 99 percent of the adware in the September 2008 test, achieving some of the highest scores overall. In the latest test results from AV-Comparatives.org, however, for on-demand scans, F-Secure Internet Security only earned an Advanced (second highest) rating, finding 91 percent of the malware presented. And for the Retrospective/Proactive test, F-Secure Internet Security failed to receive any certification.

Support
F-Secure supports its Internet Security suite with online FAQ, e-mail access, and a toll-free telephone number. There's also a tutorial online (which we think all vendors should offer), but no hardcore online documentation except for a quick installation guide. Also, it would be nice to have a free support forum such as the one offered by Symantec.

Conclusion
Mostly troubled by little things we were not wowed by this product. The price is the real kicker: considerably more than the competition while offering roughly the same features and performance.

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6.7

F-Secure Internet Security 2009

Score Breakdown

Setup 7Features 6Performance 7Support 6