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F-Secure Internet Security review: A solid but uninspiring security suite

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : 35
(1st year, inc VAT)

With a limited feature set and mid-table protection scores, it’s hard to justify paying full price for this simple antivirus solution

Pros

  • Clean, lightweight design
  • Respectable antivirus performance

Cons

  • You don’t get a lot for your money
  • The price doubles after the first year

Finnish security specialist F-Secure’s internet security suite is simple and keeps bells and whistles to a minimum. There’s a pleasing straightforwardness to that; the interface is spacious and airy, too, and our performance tests found F-Secure Internet Security quite light on its feet.

While this is all positive stuff, the price feels a little high for what you get. Shop around and you’ll find several rivals offering a wider range of features for a lower price. While F-Secure’s malware protection is good, it isn’t exceptional enough to warrant paying a premium.

F-Secure Internet Security thus ends up as something of an also-ran. It ticks all the important boxes but there’s no obvious reason to choose this particular suite over the competition.

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F-Secure Internet Security review: What do you get for the money?

F-Secure Internet Security is a mid-priced security solution, supporting Windows, macOS, Android and iOS. It costs £25 to protect a single device for a year, or £35 for five; other options are available from third-party retailers.

Those prices are the same wherever you buy from, so bargain-hunters will probably be happier with something like AVG Internet Security or Norton 360 Deluxe, which can be found on Amazon at knockdown prices. Still, F-Secure is decent value if you buy licences in bulk, with 10-device and 20-device packages available for £40 and £72 respectively.

Like most security suites, F-Secure Internet Security comprises multiple modules to defend against different types of attack. The Viruses & Threats component scans files on your device for known malware signatures and monitors applications for suspicious activity. To defeat ransomware, the software also actively blocks all access to your personal folders from untrusted processes, unless they’re explicitly authorised by you. 

The software’s Secure Browsing & Banking module watches over web traffic, via a browser extension for Chrome, Edge and Firefox. As well as warning you away from malicious sites, this adds trust ratings to search results and optionally blocks intrusive advertising.

The suite also includes a parental control module for all major desktop and mobile platforms. When you install the client software on your children’s devices, you’ll be prompted to set up usage schedules and time limits, as well as category-based web filtering; after this initial setup you can use the main F-Secure app on your own PC to tweak settings as needed. 

And that’s the whole deal. Unlike competing security packages, F-Secure Internet Security doesn’t include a custom firewall or network scanning tools. It also lacks active breach protection to warn you when your credentials and passwords have leaked online, and there’s certainly no bundled VPN. To get those latter two features you’ll need to move up to the pricier F-Secure Total package, which starts at £35 for a single PC, or £40 for three.

What’s more, all these prices come with a catch. After your first year’s subscription expires, the cost to renew both F-Secure Internet Security and F-Secure Total is roughly twice as much as the initial purchase and the pricing is tied to your user account, so you can’t easily cancel and sign up again.

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F-Secure Internet Security review: Will it keep you safe?

F-Secure’s anti-malware credentials have been regularly put to the test by independent researchers at AV-Test.org, and the Internet Security suite is included in the lab’s latest roundup of consumer security software. To be strictly accurate, the suite on test was called F-Secure SAFE – the package has been rebranded for 2023 but the underlying engine hasn’t changed.

AV-Test’s methodology set F-Secure’s software against more than 11,000 real-world threats during January and February 2023, including a mixture of widespread malware and previously unseen “zero-day” exploits. F-Secure delivered perfect protection against recognised threats but was one of a few packages that faltered in the zero-day test:

AV-Test.org protection results, Jan/Feb 2023 (%)0-day Jan0-day FebWidespread JanWidespread Feb
Avast One100100100100
AVG Internet Security100100100100
Avira Internet Security100100100100
Bitdefender Internet Security100100100100
Eset Internet Security98.998.3100100
F-Secure SAFE99.5100100100
G Data Total Security100100100100
Kaspersky Premium100100100100
Malwarebytes Premium98.997.8100100
McAfee Total Protection100100100100
Microsoft Windows Defender100100100100
Norton 360 Deluxe100100100100
Trend Micro Internet Security100100100100

F-Secure also participated in AV-Comparatives’ March 2023 malware protection test. Again, the Finnish engine did pretty well overall, neutralising a perfectly credible 99.96% of threats. However, F-Secure’s detection scores were lower than other packages – and it also flagged up an unusually high number of false positives:

AV-Comparatives protection results, March 2023 (%)Offline detectionOnline detectionOnline protectionFalse positives
Avast One96.90%99.50%99.97%2
AVG Internet Security96.90%99.50%99.97%2
Avira Internet Security97.00%99.10%99.96%2
Bitdefender Internet Security98.10%98.10%99.94%6
ESET Internet Security97.40%97.40%99.94%0
F-Secure SAFE96.90%98.70%99.96%14
G Data Total Security98.80%98.80%99.95%2
Kaspersky Premium90.00%97.90%99.96%2
McAfee Total Protection89.60%99.70%99.99%9
Microsoft Windows Defender83.10%99.30%99.98%32
Norton 360 Deluxe91.10%99.70%99.99%3
Panda Dome72.20%95.50%99.97%102
Trend Micro Internet Security60.90%91.80%97.19%10

These results aren’t too worrisome: statistically, there’s almost nothing to choose between this suite and front-runners such as McAfee and Norton. Equally, though, there’s nothing here that makes F-Secure stand out from the crowd.

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F-Secure Internet Security review: Will it slow your computer down?

As well as testing F-Secure’s protection, AV-Test also measured the software’s impact on system performance. Here, the news is good: perhaps thanks to F-Secure’s lean feature set, the suite had a modest effect on the responsiveness of the test system, with an impact of just 3% on file downloads, 6% on application launches and 19% on the installation of new software. 

That was echoed in our own web-based testing, which uses the Chrome browser on Windows 11 to download and open various sets of files. F-Secure advises that its browser extension needs to be installed and active for full protection and we feared that this would drag down performance but, in the event, it proved quite nimble. Our sets of ten JPEG and PDF files were opened in just 0.79 and 0.30 seconds respectively, while Windows’ built-in virus scanner took 0.96 and 0.84 seconds to show the same content.

Downloads were speedy, too. Ten EXE files came down the line in 5.1 seconds, ten meaty ZIP archives took 15.3 seconds, and saving our ten JPEGs was effectively instantaneous, with the benchmark recording no delay at all. For comparison, the same operations with Windows Defender active took 6.0 seconds, 17.7 seconds and 0.87 seconds. 

Curiously, disabling the plugin made everything slower, perhaps because the main antivirus engine had to take over scanning duties. With the plugin deactivated, our JPEGs and PDFs took upwards of three seconds to open, while saving the EXE, ZIP and JPEG files took 6.6 seconds, 15.7 seconds and 0.93 seconds respectively. 

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F-Secure Internet Security review: Should you buy it?

F-Secure protects you against the major avenues of cyber-attack with a degree of effectiveness that’s not far behind the best in the business. It’s fast, too, providing a snappier experience than most rivals for both online activity and desktop tasks.

Overall, though, the suite doesn’t distinguish itself. The pricing isn’t awful, but nor is it particularly competitive, especially once you factor in the steep hike that kicks in after your first year. And if you opt for the regular Internet Security suite, you get a much more limited feature set than with Avast One, Kaspersky Premium or Norton 360 Deluxe.

In short, F-Secure is a fine security suite with no serious shortcomings, but whether you’re focused on value, features or performance, you’re likely to get a better deal from a different package.

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