Sometimes "free" is not worth it. When it comes to security on my computer, well I'm a wee bit paranoid. I tend to believe that single source solutions may all contain an Achille's heel, so I use products from different vendors; Microsoft's anti-spyware (with a back end system named spynet, who could resist), Sygate's personal firewall and Trend's PC-Cillin. Being a Comcast customer, I could download McAfee's "Online Privacy" product for free.
That was a mistake.
During installation my spyware started sending me all sorts of warning messages. But I kept on going. After installation and rebooting, I now had "Privacy Protection". So I visited a few web sites and then looked at my new "Privacy Protection". Turns out this McAfee product is Spyware. So even though you clear your history, browser caches, etc. , this thing keeps a copy.
You also get a free Security Center which tells you how good your protection is on your computer:
OMG! Hackers can get to me, according to McAfee. Clicked on the info button and it says I have no firewall. But I am running Sygate. Very confusing. It did find my Trend anti-virus. So I did a chat discussion with McAfee customer support (very responsive) and have this conversation:
**tech person**: Bruce, McAfee Security Center will only incorporate McAfee Personal Firewall not any other third party product.
Bruce Fryer: but it found my Trend anti-virus
Bruce Fryer: Is marketing trying to push your brand of firewall <grin>
**tech person**: May I place you on hold for five minutes while I research this issue?
Bruce Fryer: cool
**tech person**: Thank you for holding.
**tech person**: Bruce, McAfee Security Center will not incorporate any third party product
Huh? Trend is a 3rd party product. So product management decided Sygate would not be detected, but Trend would. Maybe they are trying to scare people into thinking competitive firewall products don't work and have them buy the McAfee solution.
Marketing should have called "Privacy Protection" "Spyware for Parents" or something like that. So of course I uninstalled it, rebooted my machine and though I could put this behind me.
So even though you uninstall Privacy Protection, it leaves something behind which contacts the homeoffice without your knowledge. Back to customer support. Now I'm running XP sp2 which is the latest and greatest. Turns out to uninstall their program I have to bring up the command prompt, go into the registry and manually remove the McAfee keys.
Marketing was asleep at the wheel here. If you are doing low level system security products, you should at the minimum make sure it actually works well and not leave behind it's own spyware stubs which comminicate with external machines. Being in charge of a product which spys on activity on your machine and promoting it as "Privacy Protection" is like selling "compassionate conservatism". Maybe I'll chalk this up to marketing oxymorons.