F-Secure is world famous for it's PC Security Suites. I mean, if the US Marine Force uses your software, you're good. However, the 2007 model of F-Secure's suite doesn't include any big visible changes, except perhaps in the parental-control section.

The real changes are mostly, you can say, as good as invisible. F-Secure has revamped its application control to help protect you automatically.

Its new DeepGuard technology monitors program behavior in real time and halts malicious activity. Also, it virtually eliminates those routine firewall confirmation pop-ups; Hurray!

Lets have a look at the features that it has to offer.


Turn ons
Unbreakable Firewall, Impressive Parental Control, Decent Price

Turn offs
Takes long time to quarantine, Sad Spam Filter, Average Anti-Spyware

Rock-Solid Firewall

F-Secure's firewall guards your system against hack attacks, controlling which programs get to connect themselves to the Internet.

By default, it allows all programs access to the Internet, while simply logging the fact that they were allowed. If a program is malicious and misuses its access, DeepGuard should catch it based on behavior.

If you miss those confirmation pop-ups, you can have it ask for a confirmation the first time a program tries to access the Internet, with an option to automatically allow known good programs.

This also replaces the advanced "application launch control" and "application manipulation control" techniques found in F-Secure 2006.

By default, F-Secure allows behaviors whose risk threshold is low, blocks high-risk behaviors, and asks the user only when the case is unclear. I set it to always-ask and tried launching a dozen leak-test programs.

In several cases F-Secure's real-time protection flagged the program as a known problem; I told it to take no action. Even so, three of the tests wouldn't run at all.

For all but two of the rest, it reported behaviors with a risk level of around 90 out of 100. When I chose to block those, it successfully prevented the test program's malicious behavior.
For comparison's sake, I launched a number of utilities that use the Internet or hook deeply into the system. Most were passed without comment, but I did get alarming warnings about a few. By clicking the Details button, you can get plenty of information to help you make an informed decision.









The firewall stood rock-solid even when I attacked it directly by deliberately executing a malicious program. I couldn't shut it down by tweaking the Registry, I couldn't disable it using Task Manager, and I couldn't turn off protection by stopping essential services.

Anti-Virus Ownage, Anti-Spyware - Not So Much

F-Secure's Antivirus recieved a VB100% rating from Virus Bulletin and has the West Coast Labs checkmark certification for virus detection and cleaning (looked it up).

However, F-Secure didn't participate in ICSA's testing (International Computer Security Association). The AV scans files on access, on demand, and on schedule. No multiple schedules here, though-the single scheduled scan uses whatever settings are current for a manual scan.

It can run daily, weekly, or monthly, with an option to hold off until the system has been idle for five minutes. The antivirus also scans the incoming and outgoing e-mail stream and (new in this version) can optionally scan and clean HTML traffic as it enters your system.

F-Secure's integrated virus and spyware scan uses its very own BlackLight rootkit protection technology. It took about 22 minutes to scan my system, so it's not especially fast or slow.

A Norton or PC-Cillin would take about 30 minutes on the same system, Panda or BitDefender spent around 15, and the spyware-only scans from Spyware Doctor and Spy Sweeper zoomed through in about 7 minutes.

However, F-Secure took a good bit longer on a fully malware-infested test system (ya, I set one up), and the repeated pop-ups from the real-time protection system were a real pain in the err....umm application.


Right in the middle of the on-demand scan, the program would announce that it found this or that threat and offer to quarantine or delete it.

The quarantine process took anywhere from half a minute to 5 minutes or more, and sometimes ended with a request to reboot (which would, of course, stop the ongoing scan). Often a separate (and pointless) standard Windows message box announced the same discovery, without offering to do anything about it.

When the real-time scan failed to quarantine the threat (as was often the case), I got the same warning again a few minutes later. And if I chose to take no action rather than fruitlessly try to quarantine again, the program literally made me feel guilty for leaving malware on the system.

The on-demand scan separates its results into three groups: viruses, spyware, and "riskware." You can let it take its default actions or view the results in detail and make your own choices.
Naturally, I chose the manual mode so I could see what it found. On a couple of infested test systems, the removal process got stuck on one item or another. It did ask me to "please wait," but I figured that the hour I had already spent was long enough.

Fortunately, it wasn't stuck in a loop-I managed to back up and exclude the problem item, thereby allowing for the removal of the rest. Most of the "stuck" items were actually removed.

Overall, though, the removal process is very slow compared with most other spyware scanners. I tried to time it on a system with no malicious software running but with some malware installers dumped in a folder on the desktop.

Even here, it hung while removing one of the installers and it at least went on for 15 minutes without finishing. Comparing this to its competition, F-Secure's scanner needs a lot of work.

Upon tallying the results of my spyware removal testing, I found that F-Secure missed just one of the 16 spyware samples. But despite its prolonged efforts, it didn't fully remove four of the threats it detected.

When charged with guarding a clean system and preventing malware infestation, though, F-Secure worked like the pro it was supposed to be, with some thanks to the System Control option.

I didn't choose to block medium-risk actions such as writing to the System32 folder or modifying the start-up sequence, since plenty of innocuous programs do the same.

But when it reported higher risk factors, I let it block them. In some cases the malware application installed, while the executable files were wiped out, completely preventing them from running.

Even after this is done, it's better to run a removal scan in order to finish the process.

Overall, it blocked all but one of the 16 spyware and all but one of the eight keyloggers, a rather impressive result.

In order to get this level of effectiveness, however, it's necessary to read and carefully consider all of the System Control warnings that appear.

Horrible Spam Control

F-Secure's spam filter processes the incoming POP3 e-mail stream before it reaches the e-mail client.

It automatically configures Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express to put spam and phishing messages into their own folders and includes instructions for manually configuring a number of other popular e-mail clients.

Its default Medium filter mode is designed to filter out most spam without misfiling too many valid messages. You can choose the Aggressive mode to block more spam (but there's a risk of blocking valid mail) or the Relaxed mode to protect your valid mail (but more spam ends up in your Inbox).

F-Secure also maintains lists of allowed senders (whitelist) and filtered senders (blacklist). You can populate the whitelist by importing from Outlook's address book, by manually entering an address, or by clicking Allow Sender from the Spam Control menu in Outlook.
In comparison BitDefender not only automatically whitelists the sender when you mark a message as Not Spam, but also adds those to whom you send mail.

However, the spam filter reduces the download speed of the email client. Downloading 1,500 random messages all at once took about 10 minutes before I had installed F-Secure.

With F-Secure's spam and virus filtering strapped on, downloading, that same collection of messages took over ten times as long (no exaggeration, went to sleep while doing it).

Although F-Secure has promised better accuracy in this version due to an updated filter engine, I wish I could say that its lengthy analysis yielded highly accurate results. Alas, that was not the case.

F-Secure let a shocking 60 per cent of undeniable spam messages into the Inbox, yet still managed to mismark about 8 per cent of unquestionably valid messages as spam.

This is a dismal performance: way worse than any of its other competitors. It's better to turn it off and use Outlook's built-in junk e-mail filter.

Better Parental Control

Some parental control systems include per-user settings based on Windows accounts, while others define program-specific accounts for each user. F-Secure doesn't quite match either of these models.

It lets you define just two profiles, Child and Teenager, each with its own password. By default the Child profile can surf only to sites on a parent-defined list-you can also choose to allow sites "certified as safe for children."

The Teenager profile blocks sites that relate to adult themes, drugs, gambling, hate, or weapons-you can also block chat and webmail sites (I hope your parents aren't reading this).

There's no elaborate full-week schedule for allowed Internet access times, just a single time span that's applied to every day.

On the first attempt at Internet access during a Windows session, you must log in using the Child, Teenager, or Parent password. When access is blocked due to the Time Lock, a parent can offer an extension on a one-time basis.

If a site is incorrectly blocked based on content, a parent can add it to the whitelist or click a link to log in using a different profile. Also, F-Secure logs all sites visited or blocked under non-Parent profiles with icons to indicate why a site was blocked.

I tested the parental control using Internet Explorer and Firefox. It worked well with all three of these. Clearly, it's browser-independent. I tried killing off the parental-control process, without success-I couldn't access the Internet at all. If the parental controls in F-Secure are sufficient for your needs, any kid probably won't be able to break them. If you're a computer wiz, then its different.

Conclusion

Overall Score:
Antivirus: 9/10, Antispam: 3/10, Antispyware: 6/10, Firewall: 9/10, Privacy/Parental: 7/10,

With a price of Rs.1600 (MRP) for 12 months and 1000 bucks to upgrade for another 12 months, the FSIS 2007 is an economical buy. They also have a online support request page where registered users can submit their query.

Also the vendor, from whom you purchase this software, has to give you a technical support number. For more info, log onto http://www.f-secure.com/. Also 1 CD can be used for 3 PCS (officially, that is).

F-Secure Internet Security 2007's does well in its behavior-based program control and its ability to keep malware out of the system. However, its spyware removal scanner is slow, unwieldy (not sure if that's a word, but you got what I meant), and not as thorough as other Security Suites.

Parental control has improved, but your Inbox ain't gonna look pretty. So in the end, we have a "supposedly" great Security Suite which kicked ass against viruses and blocking unwanted incoming internet traffic, but was a major letdown in its Anti-Spyware and Anti-Spam field.