F-Secure is a well known company in the world of security. In fact, we have looked at their Freedome VPN application in detail, for both Windows and Android apps. Of course, VPN is not the only thing they are known for. F-Secure Safe, the anti-viral offering has been around since 2014. A new release has just been announced, and SAFE 3 is all about the consumer. The subscription and the installation model is driven by the people who use it rather than their devices. It hopes to let users do whatever they want from their internet connected devices, without having to worry. Be it exploring the internet, shopping, watching videos, or just communicating with your family. The same software is available on all popular formats. So you can have the same subscription on your home PC, your office Mac, your Android, your wife’s iPhone, and your child’s iPad or Android tablet.
A quick look at the features:
- A new subscription management system lets you focus on the user rather than the device
- Anti-Virus protection
- Parental Controls
- Network protection
- Available across multiple platforms, such as PC, Macs, iOS, Android, and even Windows Phone!
- Browsing protection with extra enhanced banking protection
- Extra protection available on mobile phones: Location, Locking/Unlocking device, Wipe device
The setup process for this is rather different to any other anti-virus/protection software we have used so far. Instead of the usual install your software, and then go on to deal with subscriptions, SAFE lets you do it first. Once you have set up your account, you can then either install it on the device you set your account up on, or you send it to other accounts.
If you choose to install it on your setup device (for us, it was our Windows PC), it follows with the usual download a file and install process. From there, it is rather simple and the software appears on your computer.
At the first install, it takes a little while to update all the security features, and asks you to add items such as Browser extensions and such like. Obviously, it is advisable to add all of them for the safest experience.
A bit more on the subscription screen
Since the software is designed to protect all of your devices, and those of your family, a bit more needs to be added on the topic. As you can see from the image above, I have a couple of copies installed. As a review I was allocated three licences, and I installed one on the Windows machine I am working on, and one on my phone.
Once you have your first machine setup, you can add other users or more devices to yourself. If you add more users, they can then add more devices to their allocation. You can also manage what they are allowed to do. As system admin of the family, only you are allowed to see what everyone is connected to, and any added users only see what they add themselves.
Of course, if you already went and downloaded the app from an app store of choice, you can just log in using your credentials (or your added user can log in using theirs), and it gets added to your account.
The protection, the usage, the resources
The software is designed to protect against virus as well as malware. Most malware or virus will get in the way of installing any protection on the device. Interestingly, this product has been designed to work around that.
Once installed, it offers all sorts of protection, the main ones being:
- General anti-virus protection for files and installed software
- Spyware protection for your computer
- Definitions are constantly updated
- Internet extensions mean that all websites that are browsed from your computer get tested. Websites that may have issues on them will be blocked. This is a great way of ensuring that you do not come close to accidentally downloading malware.
- The internet protection includes an extra banking protection feature which pops up every time you open up your bank’s website. Normally the feature kicks in as soon as you open their website, and does not need you to go to the login page. I tried a few bank websites, and it always popped up to let you know it was working. I went further by logging in. One of the things it does is that if you have any other windows or tabs open in your browser, it adds an extra layer of protection on them. For example, it actually closed down a few of the web pages I was browsing. These were some news pages that I was having a read for some research. Whether it was dodgy ads, or just some scripts, it was good to know that it kicked in. More popular websites such as Twitter and BBC seemed to be fine.
- Checking apps and seeing if they are safe to use.
- It also offers a ‘Safe Search’ feature which opens up in your default browser, but gives you a rating of every search result.
As far as usage goes, the software was incredibly simple to install, and didn’t get in the way of anything.
It also doesn’t seem to impact speed, and of all the various websites I have been browsing over the past few days, I have had absolutely no trouble. Video and music streaming works fine, as does other work such as documentation. It is also very light on resources, meaning that the software happily works in the background while you carry on with everything.
In fact, also packed in is a ‘Gaming Mode’, which drops the resource usage to even less. This was more evident on the RAM usage.
Once installed, the Windows app offers some of the following options under the Tools Menu:
- Virus Scan. This can be a full scan or partial.
- Set application permissions
- Check out and manage items in Quarantine
- Setup Firewall
- Check for recent events
- Manage updates
- Submit a sample
- Option to turn off security
While they are all self-explanatory, a feature we particularly liked was one that allows you to submit samples. Luckily, we didn’t have anything to submit, but allowing users to submit dodgy items is a good move.
Designed for the family
One of our favourite settings is that the product is designed for the family. You can set up various users on each device, and setup various protections on them. For example, you may choose to block certain content for your kids. Alternatively, you can also prevent people at your work from accessing social media while at work.
As you can see, it is very simple to implement. All you need to do is check or uncheck the various options.
Another feature is actually the allocation of time for various users.
Using this, you can set up various time slots for your kids to spend on the computer, or you can allocate maximum time they spend on it. You can also block browsing as an individual option, rather than just the computer time.
Extra Features in the App
The app gives you a bit extra. On too of all the features you have, you get the following:
- Device finder
- Device Wipe/Lock/Unlock (if lost)
- Call blocker
- An extra browser for Safe Browsing
- Application Privacy test to check what information from your phone is being shared via apps. Every app you install will get tested for you, and a notification will let you know whether your app is safe or not.
In the case of the app, you do not get a Chrome or browser extension. Instead, it comes with its own browser to allow safe browsing. In some ways, it is easier as it lets you do things like banking in a completely separate browser. However, it is understandable that it may be annoying for certain users.
More information on the F-Secure Safe can be found on their website.
It works on a subscription model, which means you need to pay an annual charge for your usage. The costs start at £59.99 for 1 device licence for the year, up to £99.99 for a 7 device licence. You can have it on a total of 1, 5 or 7 devices, and those licences can be divided among different users (i.e. family members).
F-Secure Safe is a simple all in one solution that caters to all devices. The setup actively encourages getting all users and their device safety involved. Privacy for your family, parental controls as well as the simple nature of the software make this a very attractive package.