F-Secure Internet Security is a suite which traditionally fared well in our tests, here at 7 Tutorials. The Finish company has joined other important security vendors in launching the 2012 version of security products, which bring a few changes compared to previous versions. I took F-Secure Internet Security 2012 for a spin, to see if the new version is still worthy of being considered one of the best security suites on the market. Let’s see what were my findings.
Speaking of first impressions, the procedure for downloading the trial version of F-Secure Internet Security 2012 is as complicated as it used to be: you must complete a couple of personal details, including a correct e-mail address. Then you get the download link in your inbox. However, you don’t get to download the suite directly. You download a small downloader which, in turn, downloads and installs the suite. The process is as tedious as it sounds. It would be nice to simplify it and make it less of a hassle. In the end, a trial installation means an additional chance to win over a new client.
Those of you who are not willing to share so much information for a trial version, can go to Major Geeks and get the downloader without completing any forms.
Luckily the download and installation process are reasonably fast and require fewer clicks than in the 2011 version of F-Secure Internet Security. Also, no restart is required.
One thing you immediately notice is that, when you click the F-Secure icon in the taskbar, you start an application called F-Secure Launch pad, not the security suite itself. Also, this program is the only being mentioned in the Start Menu shortcuts. A bit confusing for a first time user!
This application works as a launcher for the modules included in the installation. I’m not sure why it is being used though, as it doesn’t help access applications faster. To start the application window for F-Secure Internet Security 2012 you need an additional click versus previous versions.
When launching the main Computer Security window, you quickly notice that the look and feel of the interface is almost identical to previous versions. Looking at our screenshots from the 2010 and 2011 versions, I can see that nothing major has changed. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as the interface remains friendly and non intimidating. It has a relaxed feel to it which welcomes any novice user.
One quirk I noticed was that, even though F-Secure immediately started downloading and installing the latest updates (which is great), the process did not end even after 3 or 4 minutes (which is not so great). The status continued to remain "Updating computer protection" a few minutes later, even though I have a very fast Internet connection. Therefore I clicked on "Check for updates" and the process looked as if it really started after my click on the button. The update took less than a minute but, after I closed it, the status of the application would not change. Therefore I decided to restart the computer and all looked and behaved normally from there on. I guess, it is best to make a restart of your computer, even though F-Secure Internet Security 2012 does not ask for one.
Integration with Windows
When evaluating the quality of the integration with Windows 7 and its features, the impressions remained mixed. The first example is the termination of the Windows Firewall and Windows Defender services: F-Secure disables the Windows Firewall but does not disable Windows Defender. This is not a big issue though, as Windows Defender does not tend to have conflicts with F-Secure. Another small integration inconsistency is that F-Secure Internet Security 2012 is not a native 64-bit application, but a 32-bit one. However, this doesn’t mean you will encounter issues with it on 64-bit editions of Windows 7. It will work just fine.
There is also a worrying aspect I identified: F-Secure Internet Security 2012 doesn’t protect its services well. I was able to kill most of its running processes with ease. Some of them did come back and restarted themselves immediately. However, at this point, I was no longer able to launch the graphical interface of F-Secure Internet Security 2012 and I am not sure how well it was able to protect my system, as many of its key services were completely disabled.
There are also positives: the impact on performance and boot timings is minimal. F-Secure Internet Security 2012 added only 10 seconds to the length of the boot procedure. Its protection services use approximately 83 MB of RAM, which is very reasonable for all modern computers. Also, the integration with networking features such as the Homegroup works well.
Regarding the integration with Internet browsers, the picture is again mixed. F-Secure Internet Security 2012 offers a toolbar and full support for Internet Explorer and Firefox but ignores Google Chrome or Opera. Considering how popular Google Chrome has become, this can be quite drawback for many people.
One fact I enjoyed about the toolbar is that you can switch it to a mini version, thus giving you back precious screens space for browsing the Internet.
Ease of Use & Configuration
As you can see from the screenshots included with this review, the F-Secure Internet Security 2012 interface is very non intimidating. But does this translate into great usability? Most times it does, even thought it can be further improved.
The main three buttons for Status, Tasks and Statistics take you to windows with friendly options. For example, the Tasks window, includes simple options for usual tasks like: starting a scan, restoring a file that has been quarantined, checking for updates, opening a firewall port or allowing an application to start. All the tasks are accompanied by friendly wizards and menus, which make it easy even for less knowledgeable users to work with them.
If you want to configure more advanced settings, this can be accomplished by clicking on the Settings button. There you will find configuration items for all security modules and features included in the suite. However, more advanced & detailed configuration options can be found only for the firewall. In the other modules you can only turn on and off certain features. This makes it easy for the novice user who doesn’t have to deal with many complex settings.
In contrast, the firewall has plenty of advanced configuration options. The trouble is that the language used is not necessarily easy to understand, even for users who have knowledge about ports, protocols and the like. Luckily the Help menu is easily accessible and can help in clarifying some of the more advanced configuration.
One worrying aspect is that, even though F-Secure Internet Security 2012 allows for creating custom scheduled scans, it doesn’t have any scans enabled and scheduled by default, at regular intervals. This doesn’t help in keeping a secure system at all times, especially if you consider some of the findings shared in the Antivirus and Antispyware Features section.
You can contact F-Secure support, by clicking the Contact support link, in the Help menu. This takes you to the official support web page, which shares links about hot topics and the F-Secure Community. However, it doesn’t make it easy for you to get in touch with an actual support person, so that you can talk with him/her about your issues.
Regarding reporting capabilities, F-Secure takes a minimalist approach. In the Statistics window, you get a brief overview of what happened so far. Nothing really detailed but easy to understand.
For those wanting more, in the Settings window, there is a Logging section from where you can open a detailed log file. However, that’s not very friendly to browse through.
Regarding the alerts being shown to the user, most of them are friendly and easy to understand. However, the alerts coming from the Firewall are pretty technical and hard to understand. Pressing on the Details button, to show more, doesn’t really help in getting friendly, easy to understand information. This can be a problem for novice users who won’t understand what is going on.
When working with the F-Secure firewall, I noticed that it always assigns the Normal profile to any network you connect to. This means that the profile works great for trusted networks such as your home or work network. For public, unsecured networks, this is a big issue though. F-Secure Internet Security 2012 doesn’t prompt you to choose a profile when you connect to a new network. Therefore you can end up not receiving good enough security if you connect to an untrusted network.
This is confirmed also by the tests I’ve made with Nmap and Nessus. The tools revealed that, when the Normal network profile is used, an attacker can find your MAC address, the manufacturer of your network card, identify the operating system and also find 10 open ports. Luckily, the 10 open ports have a low security impact.
I strongly recommend that people using F-Secure Internet Security 2012 manually switch their network profiles to Strict when connecting to untrusted networks. This helps in improving the security. Scans made using this protection profile, revealed a much better picture: 0 open ports and only the MAC address and the manufacturer of your network card could be identified.
All in all, I would say that, when it comes to firewall protection, F-Secure Internet Security 2012 offers both average performance and default configuration.
Antivirus and Antispyware Features
To test how well it protects the system against viruses, spyware and other forms of malware, I started by visiting a few infected websites, which aim to install unwanted software on your computer. F-Secure Internet Security 2012 has promptly blocked each attempt to visit such websites, in both browsers it supports (Internet Explorer and Firefox).
Another test I’m making is to plug in an infested USB stick, filled with malware and see how well the security suite reacts. Unfortunately F-Secure Internet Security 2012 does not automatically scan any new media you insert, nor does it prompt you to start a scan. F-Secure Internet Security 2012 scans only the things you try to access and use. Only when I started browsing the infested memory stick, it started detecting and removing malware.
Even though it did a good job of removing everything that was detected as being malware, I noticed that F-Secure did not identify and eliminate all the malware on the memory stick, simply because I did not try to access everything.
I had to start a manual scan of the memory stick in order for F-Secure Internet Security 2012 to identify and remove everything.
Even though I did not get my computer infected, this is a behavior that should be improved in future versions.
Finally, I made a full system scan, to see how long it takes. The scan ended in only 6 minutes (for a 30GB partition with 28GB occupied space), which makes F-Secure Internet Security 2012 the fastest scanner I’ve tested so far (65% faster than Norton and Panda Internet Security 2012).
I also looked at what other organisations had to say about the effectiveness of the malware protection offered by F-Secure. AV-Comparatives awarded their top Advanced+ rating while Virus Bulletin awarded a 95%+ detection rate in their latest comparative. AV-TEST has not yet tested the 2012 version of F-Secure Internet Security.
All-in-all, I can say that F-Secure Internet Security 2012 provides good antivirus and antisypware protection. However, it could benefit from adding a few default scheduled scans and improving the way it handles removable devices such as memory sticks, external hard drives or CDs and DVDs.
Giving a final verdict for F-Secure Internet Security 2012 is a very hard task. The solution does provide good protection (especially antivirus and antispyware protection), accompanied by a friendly, non intimidating interface and blazing fast performance. However it has an average firewall and it could benefit from better default configuration. The lack of scheduled scans, the fact that it assigns the same profile to any network you connect to and that it doesn’t protect its services from termination by malintentioned people or software, don’t allow me to recommend it to everyone.
F-Secure Internet Security 2012 has become an average solution that requires additional configuration and input from users, so that it provides an optimal protection level.
You can buy F-Secure Internet Security 2012 from Amazon UK (for European countries). Unfortunately it cannot be found on Amazon.com. When you are buying from Amazon, we also receive a small affiliate commission which will help pay for some of our work on the site. A big thank you to all who are buying using this link.