McAfee Security Scan Plus – Advice That You May Not Want
By on January 31st, 2010

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 It scanned my netbook and found several programs that it believed were out of date. As you probably know, out of date programs can give hackers an easy way to gain access to a PC.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.

mcafee-sec-scan-plus

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.

mcafee-sec-scan-plus-welcome

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

mcafee-sec-scan-plus-update

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

mcafee-sec-scan-plus-updating

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

mcafee-sec-scan-plus-scanning

The scan seemed to take only a few seconds. When it finished, I was encouraged to see that McAfee was not complaining about the Virus protection and Firewall that I was running. I was surprised that I didn’t see any detailed analyses, only quick suggestions were offered, as you can see by their suggestion for Web Protection.

mcafee-sec-scan-plus-message-1

Their last recommendation for me was unexpected, but after some thought, I understand it. Apparently they scanned my Internet Explorer bookmarks and history. They were looking for risky sites. The one they found isn’t actually a security risk, because it’s a website you can’t visit in your web browser. However, it is listed as medium risk by McAfee Site Advisor.

mcafee-sec-scan-plus-message-2

This free Security Scan Plus application didn’t meet my expectations. McAfee’s recommendation for the free SiteAdvisor addon is good. I’ve used it before and I recommend it for people who are new to the net. It provides safety ratings on the pages you visit in your web browser and in the search results at Google, Yahoo and other search engines. The rest of their recommendations seemed very self serving to me.

McAfee does offer a few other free security tools, such as McAfee Stinger. It’s a great stand-alone virus and trojan remover. The only problem with Stinger is that you’ll never find it unless you know already know about it. McAfee does not advertise it and you won’t be able to find it easily by visiting McAfee’s website.

Techie Buzz Verdict:

Their suggestions are sound – if you have the money to pay for their solutions. Each recommendation is designed to offer McAfee a good chance to sell you something. This isn’t good free software – it’s a good marketing tool. I was very disappointed, and I only posted this review so that I can save others the trouble of downloading unwanted advertising. I would classify it as Adware.

techiebuzz-not-recommended

Techie Buzz Rating: 1/5 (Poor)

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Author: Clif Sipe Google Profile for Clif Sipe
Promoting Freeware and Free information since 2004. Owner of FreewareWiki.com with over 2000 pages of freebies. Please subscribe to my Google Feed or follow me on Twitter @clifnotes.

Clif Sipe has written and can be contacted at clif@techie-buzz.com.
  • Michael

    I had the same problem as many other people here, Adobe Reader said it needed an update, so I updated it. I didn’t see any page on an optional install for Security Plus, and yet it ended up on my PC, fully equipped with it’s own start menu folder and shortcut. I immediately uninstalled it with the provided uninstaller, and quickly ran a scan with ESETNod32, my antivirus program, and checked my program files for remaining junk. If this program comes on to my computer and installs itself without my consent, then it’s a virus, and it’s creators should be prosecuted as such. Sue them please :)

    • http://www.google.com/profiles/clif.notes Clif Sipe

      Hi Michael – unfortunately, Adobe probably has a “terms of use” or other agreement on that page or in your Adobe Reader, that allows them to do this legally.

      You have not paid for Adobe Reader, therefore, I would have to say that you have far less “standing” in any court, in which you might wish to sue them. Our only option is to “raise hell” with Adobe and McAfee. I encourage you to spam them with complaints.

  • Fred

    Clif, I love you site and advice. I too discovered the McAfee Scan Plus and thought it was a virus.

    I am now a fairly loyal Symantec user but have used McAfee on many of my computers and felt it was a good solution for virus protection. I like the tools in Norton.

    I think McAfee could be a lot more upfront and be cautious who they partner with. I think mine came in after a Firefox or adobe update. This has caused me to be wary of both.

    Again thanks for your valuable site.

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  • Lucy Winward

    I got this downloading/updating acrobat reader – I was happily using the free Nitro pdf program as a reader (and to create pdfs)…but then the basic PAYE software supplied by the HMRC (uk tax office) will only let me view their pdfs correctly with acrobat…grrrrr
    Have been ignoring the Mcafee scans -but now it is telling me I have a potentially dangerous website (removeonline.com) which is how I discovered it is just a marketing ploy -really annoyed…

  • Denise

    Must read everything on these uploads. Noticed that McAfee got installed when I upgraded/installed another software product. I didn’t notice that it was there and that I needed to ‘uncheck’ the box for McAfee. Ugh! Deleted it!

  • Scott

    I think that a few class action law suites are in order for McAfee and their software. Who is going to pay for all the trips my staff has to make to remove their crap and explain to users why it is not an issue. I for one plan to blacklist the whole McAfee domain to assist in further blocking them. What they are doing is installing a virus. They are causing me an expense to remove and answer for a product that I did NOT want on our company network.

  • Ed Melchior

    I must have had this thing for over a year, and didn’t pay attention to it since I have McAffee VirusScan on the machine, managed by a central McAffee server here on my campus. I thought the big M in my task tray was the VirusScan program. Today Security Scan Plus popped up and told me that there was no anti-virus program installed. I checked, and VirusScan is still installed, and completed a full scan of my HD on Monday. Hmmm. Adware from McAffee does not detect that software from its own company is installed. Not just adware, but incompetent adware! Blechhh.

    At least the uninstall worked. Aaarrrrgggghhhh!

  • Kira

    Thanks for this article. I too suddenly noticed the shortcut on my desktop and it looked funky so I was sure it was malware, but no popups or hijacking was going on. I did some searching and now have uninstalled this piece of advertising.

  • Bill

    I installed Site Advisor and it practically put me back to the dial-up days.

    Sites that normally took a few seconds to load were disabled for up to a minute or more.

    Typing a comment like this, I could get ten or twelve letters ahead of their appearance on the screen.

    It seemed like all of my applications ran much slower also – not just the Internet-related ones.

  • Eric – Japan

    WTF!!! The icon was standing right next to one of my favorite videos, and it freaked me out in such a way that I couldn’t breath for more than half a minute.

    Here’s the logic, guys: If I find something unwanted in my computer that installed it’s self without a single warning, that automatically is labeled as bugging stuff and it bugs me till I can remove every single part of it.

    I might be a freak, but I think is way better than being a zombie. Mc.Affee has just screwed. I used to take them for serious (till I bought my Dell PC full of their software,) but now this is just… thirdworldish…

  • Sandy

    Thanks for the info. This thing installed itself without my permission on December 6, 2011. I was reluctant to uninstall because it happened about the same time that Microsoft Essentials updated and I thought they might be using it for some reason. Today I thought I would do a search for McAfee Security Scan Plus to see what I could find. Ran across your article. Have uninstalled the gadget and will continue to uninstall (should it come back), until it gets the message. Will definitely be keeping an eye out for this type of thing in the future.

  • Judy

    McAfee appeared on my desktop; I have no idea where it came from but it must have been from a software (adobe?) update as described in this article. This type of thing really pisses me off.

    • wb1ccp

      With the current version of the Flash Player, McAfee Security Scan Plus installs without asking and has no option to NOT install it. It seems to be a useless piece of adware and a waste of resources. Fortunately, it does do a total uninstall from the Control Panel or its own Start — All Programs shortcut. It may come with Adobe Reader as well; not sure as I use Foxit.

  • Sam

    First of all, thanks for posting this article/warning. Second, I use Firefox and decided to update my add-ons. When I was updating the Adobe add-on I experienced the same thing that everyone else has noted, but with a twist. I run NoScript in Firefox, and at first it blocked the part about the additional installation of the McAfee crapware. Only after I clicked “Temporarily allow all this page” did the opt-out part appear. I was shocked to see it and immediately unchecked the option. There is no way I’d want that on my system. As others have mentioned, I’ve lost what little respect I ever had for McAfee, AND for Adobe as well.

  • orl tech

    I run an IT company and we are seeing this all over the place. I’d say at least 15% of the computers we see have it installed, even businesses we manage. Very annoying and it can cause other problems.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bradhal Brad Hall

    well Mcafee has saved my pc a few times and for $30 its better than some crap virus on your pc but to each is own I guess.

  • grayhermit

    There is a very interesting discussion of this stealthy software installation at http://forums.adobe.com/thread/722513. People have been complaining to Adobe for TWO YEARS (!) about this default automatic download. The last official comment said it’s STILL under discussion internally. There must be a GREAT deal of money involved. And minimal business ethics standards.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1355724409 Miriam Rubinoff

    I have been annoyed by constant warnings showing up on sites that I have used before with no problem. It was confusing, because the green McAfee sign (for Site Advisor) would be telling me that the site was good. I didn’t realize that they were two separate things – I thought it was just a new feature of Site Advisor or something. It’s McAfee, right? What could be wrong? Today I finally got so disgusted that I Googled and found this page. I fed it to Revo and had no problems uninstalling it.

  • Gisela East

    McAfee is nothing I expected god knows how many Licence I paid for I going uninstall McAfee because I cant get nothing my Laptop is hardly useable can’t open my Emails in my Account.

 
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