McAfee Internet Security 4.0

  • Editors' rating
    7.2 Very good
  • $69.99


  • One-click security check
  • new, easier-to-use interface
  • firewall hides PCs from hackers
  • extensive privacy tools.


  • Includes VirusScan, the second-best virus killer
  • firewall is hard to customise
  • many privacy tools are only for families with kids.

At £51 (inc. VAT), McAfee Internet Security 4.0 (MIS 4.0) defends your PC against the two most dangerous cyberthreats -- direct hacker attacks and sneaky, behind-the-scenes viruses. But unless you're an absolute stickler for online privacy, or you want to keep your children within a strict online safety zone, you'll find cheaper and stronger protection elsewhere.

Installing MIS 4.0 is simple, and we had it guarding the digital gate 15 minutes after opening the box. Like its biggest competitor Norton Internet Security 2002 (NIS 2002), MIS 4.0 sets all defences to medium-high settings by default. Do nothing, and you're completely safe. Still nervous? Then run MIS's Internet Security Check, an 11-item inspection of the PC's current protection status, from firewall to anti-virus update status. Any flaws that MIS finds, it'll fix automatically.

Three main components make up MIS 4.0: VirusScan 6.0, McAfee Firewall 3.0 and a clutch of privacy tools brought over from the discontinued Guard Dog program. MIS 4.0's new interface, which looks a bit like a Web browser (and a lot like Symantec's Norton products), gathers all these tools in one place. You navigate the program like a Web site, by clicking buttons or using back and forward arrows.

VirusScan 6.0, which you can launch straight from the main MIS interface, blocks and destroys Trojan horses, viruses, worms and other nasties. There’s no scrimping here -- MIS includes a full-featured edition of VirusScan 6.0 -- so all its tools, from email monitoring to scheduled scans, are available. However, VirusScan 6.0 isn't the top virus-killer on the market: Norton Internet Security 2002 includes the leader in the field, Norton AntiVirus 2002.

McAfee Firewall keeps hackers at arm's length. First, it hides your computer so that it's invisible when you're online. Second, it prevents any unauthorised online access, either inbound or outbound, so that if a Trojan horse does sneak into your PC via email, it can't communicate with the outside world without your knowledge. We tested McAfee Firewall, and it does these tasks well. It passed both the ShieldsUp test and the Symantec Security Check with flying colours, completely concealing the computer and closing all online ports.

McAfee Firewall isn't foolproof, however. Unlike Symantec's Norton Internet Security 2002, MIS 4.0 lacks an obvious way to rescan your drive for newly installed Internet-enabled applications. And McAfee makes it a chore by having you fine-tune each application's online privileges from a series of options. NIS 2002 provides a slick wizard for this job.

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MIS offers many new tools -- so many, in fact, that you'll stumble across them days after installing the product. There are tools that automatically erase your browser's cache to hide where you've been surfing online, block most Web ads and prevent personal info -- such as credit card numbers -- from leaving your computer without your permission. Others let you limit your children's Web time by restricting their surfing to age-appropriate sites and filtering filth from chat and instant messages. The most useful of these new tools is File Guardian, which lets you lock down individual files, folders and even entire drives so that no one -- whether sitting in front of your keyboard or hacking into the PC from afar -- can steal your personal data. Overall, MIS 4.0 delivers a solid line of privacy defence.

Although this virtual fortress does its job thoroughly, it's not necessarily your best general security package, especially when it comes to price. Buy McAfee VirusScan 6.0 alone, and you'll get two-thirds of MIS 4.0's combined arsenal, including the all-important anti-virus protection and firewall, but for only about half the cost of MIS 4.0. If you can do without all the child protection and privacy extras, VirusScan 6.0 alone is a much better buy. And for a similar price you can pick up Norton Internet Security 2002, which includes nearly the same mix of defences but features the better-performing Norton AntiVirus 2002.


Packaged Quantity 1
Localization English
Category security applications
Subcategory security - antispam software, security - desktop antivirus, security - desktop firewall, security - parental control, security - security suite
Package Type retail
Distribution Media CD-ROM
Version 4.0
Subcategory security - antispam software, security - desktop antivirus, security - desktop firewall, security - parental control, security - security suite
Category security applications
License Type box pack
Version 4.0
License Category shrinkwrap
System Requirements
Min RAM Size 32 MB
Min Hard Drive Space 60 MB
OS Required Microsoft Windows 2000, Microsoft Windows 95 OSR 2, Microsoft Windows 98, Microsoft Windows Millennium Edition, Microsoft Windows NT, Microsoft Windows XP
OS Family Windows
Additional Requirements CD-ROM
Min Processor Speed 100 MHz
Min Processor Type Intel Pentium
Brand McAfee
Product Line McAfee
Model Internet Security
Localization English
Packaged Quantity 1
Compatibility PC
System Requirements Details
Min RAM Size 32 MB
Min Hard Drive Space 60 MB

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