McAfee this week unveiled a new set of security software offerings, including new Windows 8-compatible editions of its three PC security suites and the second generation of its All Access crossplatform security solution for Windows PCs, Macs, and Android and BlackBerry mobile devices.
First released last year, McAfee All Access is designed to provide multi-device protection across system security, data security, Web security and family security. Specific safeguards vary according to platform, however.
In the second generation product, McAfee has added a new dashboard for integrated cloud-based management of supported devices, along with a set-up wizard for easier installation and more protections for each type of device, said David Jackson, McAfee's director of global consumer product marketing, in a briefing for NotebookReview. The new safeguards in McAfee Access 2013 are detailed below.
McAfee is also supplying free tech support by phone, chat and e-mail, and -- in the US only -- a free virus removal service.
With McAfee Access 2013, McAfee is responding to ongoing changes in the computing landscape, according to Jackson. More and more consumers are "constantly connected," devices keep proliferating, and data is "increasingly stored in the cloud," he observed.
New McAfee Report: Threats on the Rise Across PCs, Macs, Smartphones and Tablets
Meanwhile, according to the "McAfee Threats Report: Third Quarter 2012," also released this week, security threats are indeed on the rise across Windows, PCs, Macs, and mobile devices.
In Web and messaging threats, for example, the third quarter saw a 20 percent increase in suspicious URLs -- which typically host malware or other unwanted programs, and often lure victims to fake "phishing sites" -- to more than 43.4 million.
Phishing victims were unknowingly brought to many malicious sites masquerading as eBay, Amazon, AOL, AmEx, PayPal, and a variety of major banks, for example.
Rootkits -- or stealth malware attacks -- such as Koutodoor, ZeroAccess, and TDSS -- also remain a troubling threat. "They are designed to evade detection and thus 'live' on a system for prolonged periods," noted the McAfee Labs researchers.
Also during the quarter, the numbers of unique samples of ransomware -- typically spread through links in email and social networks, drive-by downloads, and pay-per-install methods -- increased 43 percent. In ransomware attacks, the malware insists that the user has visited an illegal Web site, locks the computer, and then asks for payment in exchange for unlocking the device.
The numbers of new mobile malware samples identified by McAfee almost doubled over the previous quarter to more than 8,000, with Android remaining the biggest mobile target. A good portion of the new Android threats are commercial spyware, the researchers acknowledged. However, "botnets and advanced malware also abound. Botnets such as Android/Funsbot.A and Android/Backscript.A and advanced downloaders such as Android/MarketPay.A were some of the notable malware for the quarter."
Mac malware also showed "strong, continued growth," with over 300 new strains identified in the third quarter, according to McAfee's report. "This surprises many people because this threat inspires far less discussion than PC and mobile malware, but the numbers do not lie," McAfee Labs maintained.
During the briefing, Jackson predicted that, despite the Defender antivirus software and other new security protections included in Windows 8, Microsoft's latest OS will be the next platform to be targeted for incursions. Windows 8, Windows RT, and Windows Phone 8 -- which share the Modern UI -- will together present a large installed base to attackers, he suggested.
On the Microsoft Windows PC side, Intel-owned McAfee has redesigned All Access in the second edition to offer a touch-friendly user interface (UI). Also new is Site Advisor Social, providing color-coded risk ratings in social networking sites like Facebook.
For Apple Macs, the new release adds new family protections -- along the lines of those first introduced for Windows PCs in the initial release last year -- which let parents apply filters for kids' usage of search engines, online TV, YouTube, and iTunes.
Also in the new release, supported smartphones and tablets now receive McAfee App Alert, a feature that scans all apps on the device, presents privacy information about the app, and ranks apps by the amount of privacy-sensitive information they can access. App Alert can also be uninstalled in a single click, according to Jackson.
Also new for mobile devices is a phone call and SMS text messaging filter with functionality that includes personalized whitelist/blacklist rules; unknown caller blocking; and the ability to adjust call blocking behavior. Phone numbers can be easily imported from the call log and contacts, Jackson said.
Some features of McAfee Access, though, still remain specific to Windows PCs, such as data encryption and a file shredder.
Supported mobile devices currently include Android tablets and both Android and BlackBerry phones. However, McAfee also plans to add protections for Apple iOS, in addition to other mobile platforms, such as the forthcoming Windows Phone 8, according to Jackson. "If we don't support a platform now, we'll support it soon," he contended.
In addition, McAfee's three PC security suites -- McAfee AntiVirus Plus 2013, McAfee Internet Security 2013, and McAfee Total Protection 2013 -- have now been updated with Windows 8 compatibility, along with a redesigned malware detection framework for more proactive protection and "contextually aware" anti-bot safeguards aimed at monitoring where applications want to connect and alerting users to suspicious activities.
McAfee All Access 2013 is priced at $99.99 for an yearly subscription covering all devices owned by an individual and $149.99 for an annual subscription covering all devices owned by a family.
McAfee's three new PC security suites are now being offered on McAfee's Web site at a 30 percent savings off of MSRPs. Current pricing on the site is $34.99 for McAfee AntiVirus Plus 2013, protecting one PC for one year; $55.99 for McAfee Internet Security 2013, for use on up to three computers; and $62.99 for McAfee Total Protection 2013, also for use on up to three computers.
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