McAfee SaaS Enpoint Protection review

Decent back-end software let down by worst-in-class malware protection scores makes McAfee SaaS hard to recommend

Our Rating 
2/5
Price when reviewed 
114
ex VAT (six licences, one year)

Specifications

OS Support: PCs: Windows XP SP3, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1. Servers: Windows Server 2003, SBS 2003 R2, Server 2008, Server 2008 R2, Server 2011, Server 2012, Minimum CPU: Intel Pentium, Minimum GPU: N/A, Minimum RAM: 1GB, Hard disk space: Not stated

McAfee must be one of the most up-and-down security packages on the market at the moment. From one year to the next the company's services can jump all over our star ratings, going from relatively secure to having more holes than a block of Emmental. For businesses, McAfee Security as a Service (SaaS) Endpoint Protection has taken a huge tumble, after showing signs of improvement last year.

Read our comprehensive guide to Internet Security 2015

Up against some tough competition this year in the small office category, there's little room for error. Sadly, McAfee left a huge margin of error, with its Endpoint software being compromised a staggering 31 times. Nearly a third of the malware we threw at it was able to bypass the protection and wreak havoc. 67 viruses were stopped in their tracks while a further two were only stopped once they had started running. It scored 48 out of 300 and, based on that performance alone, we can't recommend McAfee SaaS Endpoint Protection.

McAfee SaaS's endpoint interface is very simple unless you're an admin

^McAfee SaaS's endpoint interface is very simple unless for non-administrators

It's a shame that the underlying engine is so flawed because the remote management element of the software isn't bad at all. You can manage your company's security from a Cloud-based web page which gives you all the information you could ever want to know about the status of your company's computers, including whether their virus databases are up to date, if they have unknown software installed and any potential compromising events that the protection software has detected.

In addition to looking at reports and system information, you can also make changes to the clients running on your employees' PCs remotely. This can't be done individually; instead you must first create a policy and then choose the various security settings you'd like to apply to this particular policy. Then you can apply policies to whichever machines you see fit. You can give less trustworthy employees a more rigorous security regimen, for example.

If you want to make security changes from an employee's computer, you simply enter the admin password

If you want to make security changes from an employee's computer, you simply enter the admin password

You can schedule when quick scans and full system scans run and when database updates occur. Further to this, you can choose whether users have access to the client running on their PC or whether they can simply just see a system tray icon and do nothing with it whatsoever. The web-filtering tool should be the most useful, but it's a little too opaque for our liking. You can't block specific websites; instead you can only block access to categories chosen by McAfee. It's never stated which websites are put into which category, and while it's nice to be able to let McAfee handle that for you, we'd have also liked to add our own contributions to what is, in the end, our own company's security policy.

The whole interface is slightly too clunky. It's like the web interface of a cheap NAS or router, with menus hidden behind menus and buttons and boxes scattered all over the place to the point at which you're never quite sure where you'll find what. Fortunately, there is extensive online help, which should see you on your way. Despite this, we could really only recommend a highly-skilled computer user take charge of this unwieldy interface.

There's plenty of options in the web interface of McAfee SaaS, but it's ugly like an old router

There's plenty of options in the web interface of McAfee SaaS, but it's ugly like an old router

An upshot for your employees if you do choose to deploy SaaS is that they won't get unnecessary pop-ups when installing software - that is unless you choose to. In our tests, McAfee allowed all 100 pieces of legitimate software to install and run without hindrance.

McAfee SaaS is a decent platform overall, but its woeful protection scores in a highly competitive market means it's impossible for us to recommend. We'd go with Symantec Endpoint Protection Small Business Edition instead.

System requirements
OS Support PCs: Windows XP SP3, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1. Servers: Windows Server 2003, SBS 2003 R2, Server 2008, Server 2008 R2, Server 2011, Server 2012
Minimum CPU Intel Pentium
Minimum GPU N/A
Minimum RAM 1GB
Hard disk space Not stated
Buying information
Price including VAT £114
Supplier www.shopmcafee.co.uk
Details www.shopmcafee.co.uk
Product code Security as a Service Endpoint Protection