Monday, July 17, 2006

McAfee AdWare

I recently got a Dell laptop at work. It came loaded with a lot of software. The first thing I did was remove most of what was on there. One of the things that I did not remove was McAfee Security Center. This included anti-virus software, a personal firewall, and spam filter. These are all somewhat useful things, so I left them on.

Soon I disabled the personal firewall. My computer is always either behind my company's firewall or my home firewall. So an personal firewall on my laptop had little value. Next I disabled the spam filter. I use Thunderbird for my email at work, and I don't receive any spam (yet) on that account. I use GMail for my personal email, and it already has a good spam filter. I left the anti-virus on. This is a Windows machine after all. I also just disabled the other services. I reasoned that there could be future circumstances where I might re-enable them.

Every time McAfee downloads and installs a virus definition update, it pops up a little message just above the system tray letting me know. Now it also downloads and updates its spam filter, and lets me know about it in a similar way. These are both acceptable things.

Recently, it started using this notification system for other things. In particular, it keeps reminding me that I only have a trial subscription for the anti-virus/spam definition updates, and that I need to renew said subscription. Luckily for me, they offer deep discounts on subscription renewals:

How annoying is that? I went through the various menus in McAfee Security Center trying to figure out how to disable this kind of advertisement disguised as a notification. This is done easily for the anti-virus/spam definition update notifications, but I have not been able to find out how to do it for these ads. Security Center is the first piece of ad-ware I've had on any of my computers in about four years. Luckily, my company has a volume license of Norton Anti-Virus, so I can just uninstall McAfee and install NAV. That seems like the only way to stop the McAfee ads.

Update: McAfee has decided to spam me as well. You would think a company that sells an anti-spam product would realize their (potential) customers obviously don't like spam...

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