Unlike the and security suites, Freedom takes a semionline approach. It's not a true online security service, as is McAfee VirusScan Online, but it has elements of one. First, you download a 13MB file, then register the suite over the Net by purchasing a one-year subscription for $90 (there is no trial period or demo version).
Freedom uses a simple, well-organized interface that lists primary defenses--firewall, antivirus, parental controls, and others--in a column on the left, while the biggest part of the display on the right shows current status and available options. Freedom has the two most important elements of any security suite: an antivirus program and a personal firewall. It throws a slew of other tools into the hopper as well, including a pop-up-ad blocker, parental controls for restricting Net access, and a browser cookie manager.
The suite's included antivirus program isn't homegrown; it's actually licensed from Command Software Systems. And Freedom's firewall is on the simple side. While it automatically configures access rules for some software--popular browsers, e-mail packages, and instant messengers--it found and built rules for far fewer apps on our test machine than did Norton Personal Firewall. Freedom Security & Privacy Suite 4.1 will be available for download in late December 2002.