Review: F-secure Internet Security

F-Secure is a comprehensive security suite that not only offers decent protection and an easy-to-use interface to help users manage the way they surf the Web.

F-Secure Internet Security 2014 has a very corporate, systematic feel: the utility's overall design isn't decorated with bright, attention-grabbing colors. Its layout, user flow, and functionality are organized to stay out of your daily PC routine so you can go about your session with one less thing to worry about.

Installation was light and quick; F-Secure took just a few minutes and it doesn't ask about any toolbar offers or extension add-ons (though SafeSearch is an extension you can choose to add later). When you're finished, you'll be introduced to Launchpad, a central dock that holds your F-Secure app right above the taskbar.

The taskbar idea was a little strange at first; normally most security programs would either let users access everything from a single control panel on the main menu screen or the system tray icon. It didn't make sense, at first, to have the user click on the system tray to toggle the dock to appear, and then to choose an app other than being a faux-OS X or tablet-like imitation. However, unlike many other security programs, F-Secure guides its core features as separate entities, altogether. After all, maintaining and securing an online profile is a fundamentally separate process and behavior than running a system scan. Along those lines we can, at least, understand their intended user flow and, at the very least, make each utility much more useable as standalone apps.

Online Safety adds visual indicators directly to your search results. The point of this is to immediately display the Web site's reputation, but in order for users to enable this, they must manually enable them under the Online Safety tool options first.

Content Blocker is an easy-to-understand filter for parents who want to manage their kids' online activities. You can even block social networks, in addition to adding custom Web sites. It's much more intuitive than, say, navigating to your system host file and adding the domains, yourself.

The main control panel is divided into three tabs: Status, Tools, and Statistics. The overall scanning process leans more toward the native side; F-Secure wants to feel like a natural part of your Windows machine and reflects this from its basic layout. Little details like the status tab reflecting your current desktop wallpaper play to the user's belief and confirmation that F-Secure is a part of your PC. The design doesn't scream for attention, and though it's not bad, it's nothing stellar, either. AV programs don't typically get too much in-depth activity from the average user beyond running automated scans. We also give it credit for not trying to overtly bundle extra software or toolbars, though there is a privacy extension that's optionally available.

DeepGuard 5 is F-Secure's latest cloud-based solution to fighting exploits. Using a cloud service to verify application safety, DeepGuard will monitor any unknown application behavior and attempt to block any malicious attempts or suspicious behavior that's not consistent with normal system actions. Many other AV companies have slowly been moving toward the cloud and straying away from the standard definition update distribution model.

According to our real-world scan tests, F-Secure saw improvements across the board: Boot times were reduced to 47.8 seconds and shutdown time to 11.9 seconds, compared to the unprotected benchmarks at 47.5 seconds boot time and 7.8 seconds shutdown time. The Cinebench score, however, showed a slight increase, at 17,255 vs. 17,116 default benchmark.

Though AV-TEST reports for 2014 have yet to be released, the 2013 version scored a perfect 6/6 in Protection, as well as 4.5/6 in overall system performance. Though the performance rank was a little below industry average, we wouldn't be surprised to see this increase in the 2014 report. Usability scores were also high at 5.5/6. F-Secure scored extremely low on the false warning evaluations also on our own system tests. F-Secure 2013 also scored in the 99th percentile for the AV-Comparatives Real-World Protection Test, with only Bitdefender, Trend Micro, Kaspersky, and Panda pulling ahead.

Bottom Line:

F-Secure Internet Security 2014 remains a high-performing, unobtrusive security suite and continues its excellent low-system impact, stringent protection combination. The streamlined direction, along with a very considerately low level of user alarm and interruption is strengthened by excellent protection scores under the hood. Compared to last year, the increased prominence of tools like site trust notifications, a gaming mode, and banking protection all add up to a much more feature-filled security solution that we can definitely recommend to our users.

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