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McAfee Total Protection Beta

With Microsoft grabbing recent headlines on the release of its Windows Live OneCare product, established players in the Windows security and utilities market are taking action to show that they can hold their ground. On the same day that Microsoft announced the availability of OneCare, McAfee responded by starting the beta test program for its next generation of products, code-named "Falcon."

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According to McAfee, it will eventually release four security suites, the first two of which are now available as downloadable betas. McAfee Total Protection is built on previous McAfee products such as VirusScan and Personal Firewall but adds new features to deal with emerging threats such as phishing. McAfee VirusScan Plus offers a subset of Total Protection's features dealing with virus, spyware, or hacker activity. I downloaded and installed the Total Protection beta to see how it holds up.

A Plethora Of Features
To call Total Protection just a security product shortchanges some of its features. It certainly offers the anti-virus, anti-spyware, and software firewall features that are typical of most PC security suites. However, it also adds anti-spam and anti-phishing features for e-mail and instant messaging. A wireless security component helps to ensure that your wireless network isn't penetrated or used by freeloaders. Parental control offers some peace of mind to parents who want to make sure their kids don't end up in the wrong Internet neighborhoods.

Most of Total Protection's features can be accessed through the main Security Center application, which provides an at-a-glance indication of the status of all the features. From there you can also configure each component or explore its operational details. Even using Security Center as a home base, there is so much functionality in the product that it's sometimes difficult to find or tweak specific settings. The interface requires a lot of "drill down and resurface" action to explore.

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