McAfee Security Scan Plus – Advice That You May Not Want

Recently, I wrote about Secunia’s Online Software Inspector. It scanned my netbook and found several programs that it believed were out of date. As you probably know, out of date programs can give hackers an easy way to gain access to a PC. One of the programs I needed to update was Adobe Acrobat Reader.

I went to the Adobe site to get the latest updated version and while there, I saw an offer for a free copy of McAfee’s Security Scan Plus. I had never heard of it before, and my curiosity would not let me pass it up.


The McAfee product installed right after Adobe finished. A few days later, I finally got around to trying it out. Here’s the first thing you will see upon launching it. It’s a simple welcome screen, nothing more.


Next, you’ll see that you must update this product in order to use it.


The update didn’t take long and they provided an interesting animation while I waited.


Next it started scanning my PC. I was anxious to see the results at this point.

Published by

Clif Sipe

Promoting Freeware and Free information since 2004. Owner of with over 2000 pages of freebies. Please subscribe to my Google Feed or follow me on Twitter @clifnotes.

  • Dave

    This doesn't sound like the sort of thing a reputable company should be doing. Yup, I would put it down as adware as well, on the basis of what I have just read.

    • Thanks for the comment Dave. I’m hoping McAfee will note a few nasty comments about their app and rework it to provide something more useful.

      It’s not likely, but we can always hope.

      • [Scoff] Are you kidding? These days it is the corporate giants who are doing everything they can think of legal or otherwise to Put coins in their purses and to hall with the consumer /customer. It really brings to mind the age old quote Caveat Emptor or translated Buyer Beware! People watch out for yourselves as there really is no one out there to watch out for you, not even when you pay for it! Again Buyer Beware!!!

        • neo

          This automatically installed itself after an Adobe “autoupdate” ran….bastard McAfee, and they wonder why noone uses their products.

          • Ghosttiger

            I had the same issue. it mysteriously appeared on my PC with neither my knowledge nor consent. I’m pretty sure it was wrapped up in a Flashplayer update

          • Holli_80_73

            I don’t understand how they can just automatically download themselves onto your comptuter without asking first and then expect you to buy whatever they are trying to sell. I hate McAfee–about 5 years ago when in college..I bought the protection suite from them for my computer because it offered a 25.00 rebate by mail so I would save a little money vs the other ones. I sent everything in as requested and I got a letter about 8 weeks later stating that they denied my rebate because it was only for people who already have mcaffee–how in the hades are they supposed to know what I had before when nothing on the rebate form asked that all it required was my mailing info and a receipt. I was also screwed with toshiba promising free upgrades to window 7 from vista on my new laptop if you just send in a copy of the receipt for the computer within 4 months..I sent it by certified mail and never heard anything response but the jerks sure did get my paperwork. Ever since then I do not buy anything with rebates by mail period or anything from mcafee or toshiba for that matter.

  • Dave

    Thanks for saving me the trouble, I'm on the page now in another tab and skipped over to check it out.

  • Pete

    Hi Cliff,
    As a longtime reader of your newsletter, I was a bit surprised you fell for this.It seems that these days even the so-called reputable companies resort to these tactics.
    I noticed some of those "co-downloads) quite a while ago
    and scrutinize every download for stuff like that.
    Some freeware comes bundled with it too -in most cases you just have to watch to untick the boxes.
    As to McAfee Site Advisor – I just can't stand that garbage.Same as AVG's LinkScanner. Do you have any idea how many people (small to medium developers) they have duped because of flagging their sites as dangerous? It will take them ages to correct their false positives.Sometimes several months and in the meantime the developers are losing business.
    Recently ,a well-known newsletter's website was targeted.
    It wasn't until he got to the top brass at McAfee that things got resolved.Others are not so lucky.
    There are stories abound regarding McAfee's and others non-caring attitude.
    Obviously I have no use for them nor will I use their software.
    Just my 2cts.

    • Thanks for the comment Pete. Duped? Fell for it? No – I went into it with my eyes wide open. I will try software even if I know it's bad. In fact, I may be more tempted to try badware. That way I can speak from experience when I say – Don't try this at home!

  • Ralph Hartsock

    I got a new icon for McAfee Security Scan2.0.181. But the icon is just a big red M. I am sill leery as to the authenticity of the software. I am used to McAfee being a shield symbol.

    • Hi Ralph – I don't know if McAfee has changed their icons. If you downloaded it at McAfee's site, then you have no reason to doubt it.

  • Mike

    I found your article while looking into this program, which appeared on my computer. I am careful about not randomly allowing software to install other things like this, so I was surprised, and suspicious, when it appeared. I am still not sure where it came from. I intend to delete it.

    Isn't software that sneaks itself onto your computer without permission considered to be grouped in with viruses, trojans, adware, etc.? If so, it doesn't leave a good impression for McAfee to do this.

    • Victor

      I too am careful of not installing anything on my computer unintentionally, and I was very surprised to see this McAfee program pop up, and already be installed. Wow, where did it come from? I thought for sure I had gotten a virus. Thanks to this article I know it's just "badware". But how the heck did they install it? I'm going to uninstall it and try going back to the websites I had recently visited. But it was so virus like (i.e. evil) how it just installed itself without asking to be installed.

  • oiram ifnab

    Thank you for confirmimg my suspicions. It seems there's "no free lunch" and not even many free snacks.

  • Jon

    Very useful advice Clife Sipe- thank you

  • Dave Daley

    I have McAfee Security Center on my wifes PC, when I downloaded the latest Adobe Flashplayer I too unchecked the "McAfee Security Scan Plus" option. However, I noticed the next day that it was installed on my computer anyway. What the @#$% is that all about? Seems like every few years these (reputable) companies resort to spyware/adware tactics to build their install base, regardless of whether you want it or not. Google apparently has launched a new campaign to impress itself on your browser in new and even more intrusive ways. Sometimes I can't help but think a market driven economy sucks – which is absurd because, what else is there?

  • oet

    This is an Excellent Post.
    Thank you for the kind sharing and Good Advise.
    What is your assessment on McAfee Internet Security Pack ?

    • McAfee Security Pack? I have no opinion of it. However, if you are looking for a good free security suite, I have seen more and more people recommending Microsoft Security Essentials.

  • KenW

    Add to that, I did uncheck the option to install the Mcafee stuff when I updated flash, but it apparently installed anyway. I consider this a virus. Years ago I made the mistake of giving them my visa number on a trial package. I spent two years trying to cancel their service and had several promises along the way that they would refund their unauthorized charges to my visa card, promises that were never kept. They say you can cancel and then make it nearly impossible to contact them to do so. Avoid this outfit at all cost.

  • Donna

    This unwanted program appeared on my computer, too. I removed it but it has left a file at c:
    ecycler with a bunch of numbers after it. Inside that file are a bunch of what looks like temp files. I tried manually deleting it but it says it can't be deleted; it's being used by another program. What's that about?

    • Hi Donna – the C:Recycler is your "Recycle Bin". It belongs there.

    • Orl Tech

      After a reboot, you should be able to delete it. The McAfee app while uninstalled could still be running in memory. That means their un-installer is about as good as the software.

  • PaulK

    I came to find this story of yours because I searched Google for McSSP, and I wouldn't need to search for it if not for the fact that I had it and didn't know why.

    Last night, while I was asleep, McAfee Security Scan Plus literally found its way onto my computer on its own. My computer is currently running about 3 times slower than normal. By "found its way onto my computer", I mean it went through a full install, and gave itself a shortcut on my desktop and a folder of shortcuts in my start menu.

    And I should fear viruses more than McAfee why?

    I definitely agree with your classifying it as Adware, if for no other reason than my early years under the assumption that Adware was almost always unsolicited and unwanted.

    • Hi PaulK – are you saying that you didn't pick up Security Scan Plus while you were downloading a new copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader? Do you have any other McAfee products?

      • Ann

        I also had McAfee Security Scan Plus show up on my computer with no action on my part that I know of. It could have come down when I updated my Adobe Acrobat. But definitely would *not* have said yes (Continue) if I’d seen the McAfee install screen.
        I had McAfee for several years (because I bought a multi-year subscription), and I could hardly wait to get rid of it when my subscription finally ended.

  • RJ

    Stupid Adobe…

    What’s more bothersome is that my Trend Micro Internet Security software didn’t complain about another scanning program being sneakily installed…

  • Leanne

    how do you get rid of security scan plus? have tried with removal tools and there it is again….annoying!

    • Hi Leanne – it’s supposed to obey when you go to add/remove and remove it. Here’s what I’ve seen so far.

    • frank

      I’m a novice and something attached itself to my AVG.
      I couldn’t believe it,,,I paid for this and it was doing stuff like not letting me update and it wouldn’t let me uninstall it and it wouldn’t let me get another anti virus.
      the ONLY thing that worked for me was”malwarebytes”
      it’s free and was the only thing that found the trogens that I had and got rid of them,,,,I LOVE IT!!
      I was able to get rid of AVG(CRAP!) and get Norton,which I like very much.
      try it,,,it’s free and,like I said <I don't know a lot about COMputers but I'm cruzin like crazy with no problems

      • frank

        I forgot to mention that this all started happening after I downloaded what I thought was an adobe update

  • Randy Gonzalez

    To be clear…McAfee Security Scan Plus is a virus, not adware. It installed itself without my knowledge and made changes to my computer’s hard disk…without my knowledge….that’s the definition of a virus in my book. Whether they are a reputable company or not, they are a manufacturer and distributor of viruses as far as I’m concerned.

  • Kathi

    This program installed itself after I UNchecked the “optional” download! That really irks me.
    I updated Foxfire and when it restarted, on the Foxfire page, I got a message that I needed to update Flash. I clicked on that link and it took me to a site that began “”, with a link to download Flash. I cleared that and instead went to the regular “” site, then followed their links and got to the same page (I was being careful). I saw the “option” to include McAfee Security Scan Plus and UNchecked it. Then clicked to download the latest Flash.
    The “Flash download manager” automatically installed, and indicated that it was installing the McAfee program as well. The McAfee program downloaded and installed VERY quickly, in about the time it takes to utter a single expletive. I immediately went to my Control Panel and told it to uninstall. I really hope it worked, but I know there are always things left behind. Maybe I’ll go to a restore point…? Blech. I hate McAfee and I’m starting to hate Adobe for helping them.

  • ilknur

    I too ended up with this program against my will after updating Adobe flash player. Software that is designed to either harm you or make an ass of you generally ninja their way in. And just like any other adware/malware out there, I had to waste my time uninstalling a software that I never consented to installing. I can’t even begin to describe how irritated I am.

    For those of you having problems uninstalling, I generally just uninstall unwanted software with Revo Uninstaller, or sometimes use the uninstaller built into CCleaner. Both are free and very useful. Be careful of what you uninstall with Revo though.. don’t go on a frenzy with it :)

    • Thanks for the comment ilknur. I have recently written to McAfee to ask for an official response to the many comments here.

      Do you think they’ll respond with anything useful?

    • Blackdog10

      thanks for the info…I couldn’t figure out how this McAfee security scan plus ended up on my PC since I removed McAfee well over a year ago when I switched to another antivirus product. I didn’t realize the recent Adobe update that I allowed to proceed was how it ended up on my PC – I am running XP and didn’t get any indication of an ‘optional’ download. I only noted that this new ‘McAfee Security Scan Plus’ window kept popping up and found it troublesome since I hadn’t ever seen it. I am PO’d that additional software is installed as part of a simple ‘update’ without my knowledge. I have removed it. thanks for the info here – now I know where the program came from. As others have mentioned here – Adobe should be ashamed of themselves for allowing it!

    • MarkIIEnf

      Ditto on the piggy back download with Flash Player update–on Valentine’s Day! I located it today on my Uninstall/Install site and promptly uninstalled. I did get a note yesterday “time to renew.” I thought it might have been one of those 14-day freebies, but I bailed anyway. Thanks for the confirming notes above.

  • Gary B

    What’s the essential difference between McAfee Security Scan Plus and a Fake Alert trojan????? NOT MUCH!!! I have lost whatever minimal respect I had for McAfee and their products because McAfee has lost whatever minimal integrity they once had. They should be ashamed, and they’re dragging Adobe down with them!

    • Thanks Gary B. – I hope McAfee reads this. You are correct in your comparison. There isn’t much difference between the two. They are both designed to scare the user into buying a product. – ScareWare

  • Jess

    This lovely piece of Adware was installed without my consent, as part of a Shockware update I believe. It never did anything until about 30 minutes ago, when it got stuck in this endless cycle of telling me it couldn’t connect to the internet, then running a scan. It must have run about 10 scans (despite my clicking “Don’t Scan”, killing the process tree, disabling all McAfee Windows Services, and running the uninstaller… Nothing phased it!) About 10 minutes after I uninstalled it, it finally went quiet.

    I was SHOCKED to find out that this is actually McAfee software and not some fake piece of malware. Thanks McAfee.

  • Charles Zonnevylle

    I think I installed and ran this on purpose. (Sometimes i’ve had a few beers while I’m playing on my machine.) But I remember the report screen. The next day I uninstalled it only to find out that a lot of my sys folders are now locked or moved (docs and settings, app data, etc.). When I try to open them I get an error that says: “(Whatever folder) is not accessible. Access is denied.” and each icon for those folders has either a little lock or a little ‘short cut’ arrow in the lower left corner.
    Can anybody tell me where or how to find my “Morrowind” save files that should be in my ‘App data’ folder?
    I can’t find anything in REGEDIT about the isolation/redirection so I can’t say for sure that this “Protection through isolation or redirection” was from Mcafee but if so that’s another bad mark!

    • Hi Charles – I’d love to help but don’t have the time. Please take this to a good PC help forum for advice.

      Thanks for the comment.

    • Bert

      Hi Charles ,I hope you solved your problem and it may well be too late to tell you this ,but in a case like that, do a System Restore to a point before you ran into trouble.(i.e. That is before you installed the update). There’s a good chance that it would be back to the way it was.

  • Dave the Brave

    I read most of the comments and didn’t see anyone mention getting this program from Adobe Acrobat reader which is how I got it. It did not give me the option to not install it nor did it tell me it was going to install it. It made me download an addon to Firefox which was a download manager type program which then popped up a progress bar which downloaded and installed the Security Scan program and Adobe Acrobat reader in that order. That was the first time I even saw mention of the Security Scan. Like I said also, no check boxes or options. After a quick google search and reading this article and the comments I uninstalled it immediately. Boy do I hate this trend of aggressive marketing. I guess they figure they can get a few bucks from preying off of people’s ignorance and/or trust in the dealings of an established company. Since when did these companies think that they can use such immoral strategies and not be held accountable by consumers? This is the golden age of knowledge. Even my grandma can use the internet now. People won’t be fooled by this crap!

    • Hi Dave – Thanks for the comment. I agree, they need to change the way this program is offered. I’ve already written McAfee about this. No response so far.

    • Neil Underwood

      I just got hit with this tonight in the same exact fashion. Firefox told me I had to update some plugins and it took me to some weird plugin updater website I have never seen before. It told me I needed to update Adobe Reader, so I did, and next thing I know it shows a box with download status for Adobe Reader and right underneath it McAfee Security Scan Plus – status: installed. WTF? I didn’t even try to open it, as I already have protection in the form of NOD32 and I know what a nightmare having 2 forms of antivirus installed in tandem can create. How the hell did it leech onto my system is my question?

      • Hi Neil – yes – it’s a pain in the buttocks, but it won’t interfere with a full anti-virus client. It should be easy to remove and I advise you do that soon. It not worth keeping.

        • Neil Underwood

          Yeah I removed it immediately. This sort of thing is a perfect example of one of the many reasons I use Linux. The only reason I have windows is for my wife & daughter.

    • Vivian

      Same thing happened to me when I went to adobe to download Adobe Reader. I only clicked to install the reader and found this McAfee leach riding the back of my reader install with no way to take it off. Suffice it to say I was steamed. Any program that forces itself on me is out the door. That is why I found your post, to see any others griping about this same underhanded strategy. The joke of it is, the very same company that professes to be protecting you from unwanted attacks, uses the same dirty rotten tactics to force their program on consumers. Why is their dirty tactics okay? I guess they are too close to their own corruption to see the irony.

  • Bert

    Hi,This is a new one to me too.
    But I know of several people who got an update notice for Adobe Reader in their email from some strange address.
    Since I’m the “resident” problem solver,haha, they contacted me first to see if this was legit (thanks to my constant pounding on the fact that they shouldn’t open dubious email) .
    Sure enough it was spam that linked to a download if you updated to what was indicated to be your PDF Reader.
    None of the headers showed any relation to Adobe ,so the junk got into the trash in short order.
    Had I received it I would have downloaded it since I run all internet programs sandboxed, but couldn’t risk it on other people’s system.
    With the sandbox (in this case Sandboxie) things like that get deleted when you delete the sandbox, so it never sees your system at all.(Also, no uninstall needed :) )
    BTW, because of prolems mentioned in this thread I don’t use McAfee at all anymore and instead use Avira.

  • frank

    I’m a novice to computers and something attached itself right to my anti virus.
    I couldn’t believe it because I PAID for it(AVG forget it) after I thought I down loaded what I THOUGHT was the latest version of adobe.
    it drove me crazy because it wouldn’t let me update AVG and wouldn’t let me get rid of AVG and wouldn’t let me get another anti virus.
    I tried a lot a lot of things without any success.
    THEN I found”malwarebytes”
    I downloaded it and ran and…..WALA,,,,it found trogens and got rid of them!!!!!
    I was able to get r9d of AVG(yuck) and download Norton(which I like VERY much).
    like I said,I’m not much of a COMputer guy but malwarebytes did me good and I’m cruzin like crazy now

    • Sam S

      this is a duplicate post

  • Verna

    I had to up date my adobe flash. After updating the McAfee security scan plus was installed. Now I am having problems with my popup blocker. Would this McAfee have anything to do with this problem? And also is it safe for me to uninstall McAfee?
    Thank you for any help.
    [email protected]

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