McAfee's new family shield

Security stalwart McAfee jumps into the family protection game with a new home-oriented protection program called McAfee Family Protection.

Updated June 5 at 3:48 p.m. Pacific Time: Users can now download the trial of McAfee Family Protection.

Correction: The 30-day trial for McAfee Family Protection is not yet available for users. I will update this post when it does become available.

On the heels of Symantec's OnlineFamily.Norton, released earlier this year, security stalwart McAfee is jumping into the family protection game with a new home-oriented protection program. Called McAfee Family Protection, the program will offer many familiar tools to parents in the hopes of fostering conversation while protecting children from harm.

McAfee Family Protection protects children based on multiple levels of technology.

(Credit: McAfee)

McAfee Family Protection will offer blocking, monitoring, and parental notifications for most computer-based activities. The program will allow for up to 10 users on three different machines, utilizing several layers of algorithms to monitor behavior. Parents can outright block or merely monitor Web sites, social-networking behavior, and instant messaging including Facebook IM and multiprotocol chat clients, according to Javed Hasan, vice president of McAfee Product Management.

In addition to blanket blocks for subject matter and specific Web site blocks, parents can customize rules so that they can block all of YouTube, or just YouTube videos that have specific tags. Web sites protected by secure protocol, https, can also be blocked. They can also set up roadblocks that prevent specific applications from opening, such as peer-to-peer clients or media players, and parents can receive brief SMS notifications alongside more-detailed e-mail reports.

The program will also be able to restrict computer usage based on cumulative time used or by time of day. It uses a server-based clock, so tampering with the local system-based clock shouldn't affect this feature.

McAfee says that Family Protection uses about 20MB of RAM when idle and can run on systems with as little as 128MB of RAM. A three-computer license for up to 10 users is available for $39.99.

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