In the wake of Intel's announcement on Thursday that it intends to purchase software security vendor McAfee, some industry experts are predicting the slow death of McAfee's consumer security products. While that's not likely to happen in the near future, just what does the chipmaker get with McAfee's current consumer security line?

McAfee's 2010 security suites introduced a new vertical interface.
McAfee's 2010 security suites introduced a new vertical interface. (Credit: Screenshot by Seth Rosenblatt/CNET)

The best-known products from McAfee are the company's security suites. Built around the same detection engine, McAfee Total Protection, McAfee Internet Security, and McAfee AntiVirus Plus offer consumers a base level of security with additional features included as you move up in price point.

McAfee AntiVirus Plus, which retails for $39.99, serves as the entry point with antivirus and antimalware, silent scans, McAfee SiteAdvisor for search results warnings and Web site ratings, a file shredder, and some system performance-enhancing tools. McAfee Internet Security ($69.99) offers the same features, adding in antispam and e-mail protection, parental controls, and 1 GB free online storage. McAfee Total Protection gives users all of the above plus includes antiphishing tools in the SiteAdvisor component, network defense protection, and an encrypted vault for keeping data private even when your computer gets hacked or physically stolen.

This year, the company introduced a new vertically oriented interface that broke with the competition's horizontal designs. Visually, this set the product apart. But the software's efficacy has been called into question. Independent testing organization AV Test failed to certify McAfee Internet Security 2010 in its Q2 test on Windows 7, when the program scored 10.5 out of 18. (A minimum score of 12 is required to earn certification.) AV Comparatives, another independent testing organization, also gave McAfee AntiVirus Plus 2010 less than stellar marks. The program scored a "Standard" certification in the company's May 2010 Retrospective/Proactive test, below the other achievements of "Advanced" and "Advanced+."

McAfee took a large public relations hit earlier this year when poor QA practices allowed a malignant virus definition file update to get pushed out to consumers and businesses. It will take some time to see if McAfee's sales were affected by the update. McAfee wasn't the first security vendor to push out a bad virus definition file update, and it won't be the last, but this one caused a wide swathe of destruction, including hospitals, libraries, research labs, and police stations.

Screen snapshot of CNET News editor's computer in Portland after a bad virus definition file update from McAfee was causing her computer to reboot in April 2010. (Credit: CNET)

From a consumer standpoint those three programs have the highest profile, but McAfee does offer up individual components of its security suites for sale, as well as other services not included in the suites. McAfee Identity Protection, for $10.99 per month or $109.99 for 12 months, gives users unlimited credit reports, public records monitoring, lost wallet support to cancel lost or stolen cards with one call, automatic alerts, and three-bureau credit monitoring. McAfee Online Backup ($59.99) is McAfee's backup service that's available with limited storage in the suites. McAfee Family Protection ($39.99) expands on the parental control service offered in the suites, which is mostly limited to advanced filtering. An iOS version of McAfee Family Protection is available for $19.99.

A third tier of products include McAfee's SiteAdvisor Plus ($19.99), an upgraded version of the free SiteAdvisor that also appears in McAfee's suites. The Plus version is available only in McAfee Total Protection, the highest-end model. Another McAfee product is the McAfee Anti-Theft ($29.99), a tool for encrypting and protecting locally stored files.

These second- and third-tier programs offer a significantly lower profile than the security suites, and consequently there's far less data comparing their effectiveness. Partially because of crossover features with the suites, they tend to attract far less user interest