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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on October 17, 2008
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This was a very difficult review for me to write, as I am uncertain about my feelings of this software. There are a lot of evil-doers out there, and I certainly want my data to be safe. However, using software to protect my data leaves me feeling a bit uneasy. Software can be hacked and cracked, not to mention having to deal with bugs and compatibility issues. And what if the software somehow becomes corrupt and fails to work properly? Will your data still be protected properly, or will you find that even you can no longer access your precious files? Every step we take to protect ourselves adds another level of complexity in our lives, and also another element of potential malfunction and failure. But today we use computers to access the entire world; to purchase products, pay our bills, communicate with friends and family, and to store our precious memories and financial data. You can't just leave yourself unprotected and vulnerable to an attack from an outsider. McAfee has introduced a product that claims to offer consumers peace of mind, by locking up our most important data into one or more "vaults" on our hard drives. Is this the answer for keeping us safe from prying eyes, or is it just another money maker for a company trying to lead us into a sense of false security?

I decided to install the McAfee Anti-Theft 2009 software on my tablet PC, which seemed to be the most likely computer to potentially fall into wrong hands. Although this software can certainly be installed onto a desktop computer, I feel that portable computers are far more likely to be stolen and/or accessed by someone that we do not wish. The product box contains a CD and Quick Start guide only. No user manual is included, although there is more documentation provided on the CD itself. Installation was very simple and straightforward. Upon inserting the CD into your drive, you are prompted with a pop-up screen, with some rather bland text links; one of which is to install the program. The entire installation took roughly a minute or so, followed by a prompt to register (aka. "Activate") the software. In most (if not all) cases, the installation will require a reboot of the PC. The program allows you to setup one or more "vaults," which can be sized from 50 MB to 4 GB. Be warned, once you setup a vault, the size CANNOT be changed! If you setup your vault too small, once you fill it up you would have to create another vault to store more files. I would recommend simply setting the maximum size of 4 GB, unless your available hard drive space is very limited. You then setup a password and enter 3 password recovery questions, in case you forget your password down the road. You are now able to start copying files into your protected vault. Notice I said "copy" instead of move? I said that because dragging your files into the vault(s) only creates a copy of the files. It does not completely move them, and also does not delete the file from its original location when copied into the vault. This creates a potential security risk and therefore falls into my "cons" listing mentioned later. So overall, installation and setup is about as fast and simple as one could hope for.

Once in the vault(s), your data is protected with the 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), with is pretty standard with most software encryption technologies today, but is certainly not unhackable. You can lock and unlock your vault(s) manually, or they can be locked automatically in a specified timeframe (or when your screensaver is activated). I definitely like the ease of use elements of this program, and it is certainly something that doesn't require a degree in computer science to use. However, these data vaults can easily be copied onto other drives, without needing to enter your password, so someone could still make a copy of your data to try and hack at their leisure. Also, what if something goes wrong with the software and it becomes unstable? Will your data be locked and inaccessible by yourself when you need it? McAfee also boasts that your vault can be stored on a USB flash drive, or any removable storage media. What they don't tell you is that you need to have a copy of McAfee Anti-Theft software installed on any and every computer you intend to access this data from. Therefore you cannot simply use this software to create a portable data vault, for which you intend to carry to and access from multiple computers, without first purchasing and installing this software onto each one of these computers. This can definitely become a problem, if your intentions are to use the software as a USB flash drive encryption utility, to access and/or transfer data between your flash drive and several business computers.

McAfee boasts the following benefits and features of its Anti-Theft 2009 software:

* Secure your files using strong file encryption:
256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) technology protects your financial documents and identity against thieves and hackers.
* Create multiple vaults on your PC and USB drive:
Setup multiple vaults for yourself, family members or co-workers.
* Easily transfer and hide files:
Move files into vault and keep them private even if you share a computer.
* Password protect your vault:
Create secure password for your vault and use password reset option if needed.
* Additional protection:
Provides an extra layer of protection over your basic PC security.
* Use with other computer security software

I feel that the McAfee Anti-Theft 2009 software does perform as promised. It is extremely easy to install, requires very little system resources from your computer and operating system, and does offer a modest level of safety for your sensitive data. However, as a person that has been in the I.T. support field for over 20 years, I do have a list of concerns when using a software solution like this. The encryption technology used in this software is not 100% safe, and can be cracked by someone with the right knowledge and evil intensions. The fact that the data vault(s) can be easily copied to another device, even without your knowledge, is very concerning as well, as this would allow a hacker to grab a copy of your data and then work at cracking the encryption without you even knowing that your data may have been compromised. I also don't like the thought of my data becoming irretrievable by myself, if the software should go belly up on my PC. Sure I could remove and reinstall the software, or transfer my data vault to another computer and install the software on that device, but think of the wasted time it could take to retrieve important data that you may need access to right away.

So as an attempt to summarize my personal findings and concerns, here is a list of pros and cons that I find with McAfee Anti-Theft 2009:

Pros
******
- Impressively easy and fast installation.
- Easy to configure and use.
- Very low impact on operating system resources.
- Each vault is seen as a virtual drive by Windows, providing a separate drive letter for each vault.
- Simple drag and drop process for copying files and folders into your vault(s).
- 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard offers a decent level of security for your data.
- Offers a low cost answer to data security for the average consumer.

Cons
*******
- Files and folders are copied, NOT moved, to data vault(s), leaving the need for original files and folders to be deleted manually by the user.
- 256-bit AES technology has been around for quite awhile, and is known to be hackable by anyone with the knowhow.
- Vault files can be easily copied to any other computer or removable storage device, allowing someone to copy your data and attempt to hack the encryption at their leisure.
- Vault sizes cannot be changed once initially configured.
- Software license is only valid for one year, requiring the consumer to pay more money to renew every year if they want their protection to remain up to date.
- Software must be purchased and installed on every PC that you wish to share or access your data from (if you desire to keep your vault on a USB storage device).
- If the software ever fails, you could potentially find yourself unable to access your own data.
- McAfee is known to charge a fee for advanced technical support, should you ever need their assistance with this software. Fees can range anywhere from $9.95 to $59.95 per incident.
- There are many other data encryption utilities, which are more secure and more cost-effective (some are even FREE!), such as TrueCrypt.

As a basic line of defense, I believe that McAfee Anti-Theft 2009 is a good, stable product. For the average consumer and modest computer user, this software could be an easy solution to all of your data protection concerns. However, this software definitely has some security holes, such as the fact that it simply makes copies of your files and folders in the data vault(s), rather than moving them entirely from their original locations. This means that the user must remember to delete the originals after making copies in their vaults. If you don't delete the originals, then you have simply left copies of your data unprotected. Anti-Theft 2009 also creates yet another reoccurring expense for the consumer, requiring annual renewal of your software in order to remain fully protected. There are many other products on the market, which offer stronger security and many more features. For anyone that is really serious about data security, you should consider entire partition or drive encryption. With a free utility, such as TrueCrypt, you could protect your entire hard drive with real-time, on-the-fly encryption, using your choice of AES-256, Serpent, or Twofish encryption technology. However, the average home computer user may easily feel overwhelmed with the choices of products and features, and would rather pay an ongoing fee for a more basic package that makes them feel safe. McAfee Anti-Theft 2009 would be a good solution for these folks, and is definitely far better that having your private data completely unprotected.

As an I.T. professional, I was going to give McAfee Anti-Theft 2009 a 3 star rating, due to its modest level of security, lack of features and customization, and due to the holes it has in its security net. However, as a product that I feel is targeted more for the average home computer user, I have decided to give it 4 stars and a somewhat hesitant recommendation. This product installs and performs well, and seems to live up to the claims made by McAfee. For someone looking for a simple, low cost solution for protecting their data, and that understands the limitations of this software and that they will need to manually delete their original files after copying them to their vault(s), then McAfee Anti-Theft 2009 may be a good choice. But for those that wish to have the strongest level of security, more features, better customization, and may wish to protect (encrypt) their entire hard drive(s), then there are better and sometimes cheaper alternatives on the market today. I mentioned TrueCrypt, but there are others that can be found with a simple Google search as well.

The minimum system requirements for McAfee Anti-Theft 2009 are as follows:

- Windows XP with Service Pack 1 (SP1) or higher, Windows Vista and Vista SP1*
- Personal computer with Pentium-compatible processor 500 MHz or higher and 256 MB RAM or higher
- 800 X 600 or higher resolution
- 10MB initial Hard Disk Space **
- Internet connection ***

* Must meet Windows Vista Operating System requirements.
** Only for the product. This does not include space required to create vaults.
*** Internet connection required for updates.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon October 26, 2008
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
McAfee Anti-Theft is a misleading title for this product. It is really a file encrption program and a poorly made one at that. After installation, the program prompts you to set up your vault (you can select the size) and create a password to lock it. It functions as a virtual drive on your system. There is only a 30 day free support period and unlimited email and chat, which from McAfee doesn't mean much. What is wrong with this program? It is so quickly thrown up that it doesn't include its own window. It uses a Windows Explorer window with its menu system below the Windows menu. If you save files in the vault it suggests that you delete them from your drive using a secure delete program (not included). The files can be transferred and encrypted with 256 bit AES and can be used on a USB drive. DON'T BOTHER WITH THIS PROGRAM. If you truly want an excellent alternative, spend a few more bucks and getSteganos Safe 2008 - Encryption 256 Bit AES. Steganos offers multiple safes each with up to 256GB of storage, 256 Bit AES, password protection for emails with Outlook, Outlook Express and Windows mail, a password generator, data shredder included, PicPass (which allows you to use pictures to open your safe) and uses your iPod or memory stick as a portable safe and a key to unlock your safe. McAfee comes up short and gives very little information. If they truly want to be competitive, they need to study the competition more. DON'T WASTE YOUR MONEY ON McAFEE ANTI-THEFT! One more thing, it is extremely difficult to uninstall, it still leaves traces after being uninstalled.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I have never used an `anti-theft' or `vault' program before, so I was a little slow on the uptake. It's fairly simple if you follow the steps carefully. The program asks you to create three answers to three questions for security for your one password. You can then create as many secure `vaults' as you want, but you have to predetermine, or guess, how many MB each vault will be to hold your information. McAfee automatically assigns a letter for each vault (it looks like another drive; i.e. Z, Y or X, etc.) 4GB is the maximum for each vault, but I found that to be very generous unless you are securing a great many photographs. Here's a clue - there are a lot of `off-site' photography websites (like Kodak) that will store your photographs for free. They are supposedly secure.

I have an external 4GB USB drive, so that works perfectly if I want to transfer between my desktop and laptop. A word of caution: Carefully plan ahead what documents you want to transfer into a vault, as you should delete them from your computer's hard drive AFTER you place them in a vault. There is a potential to lose your documents, if they are not transferred properly.

To be honest, I don't have a great deal of personal information on my computer that is able to be stolen. Here is what I did transfer to a vault; all my credit card information, my tax information and my `Last Will & Testament'. I'm sure I will find more uses in the future.

I did find in the first month of installment that I had to reinstall/repair the program as it was not showing up in my programs. A simple repair did the trick, but that concerns me for the future with sensitive information.

On the last note, I am disturbed that most of the new software programs do not come with small manuals for instructions. You need to print out the 23-page instruction manual for this - it is not that intuitive. You do need to know what you are doing. Next time someone tries to hack into my computer (it happened once); I'll feel a lot better. I'll have to see if I will renew my subscription in a year. McAfee guaranteed me that I could still access my vault information if I do not renew.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
At first I thought what a joke password protected files are built into an operating system. Then I loaded the program and realized it is a lot more than that. You can create vaults, as many as you like, individually password protects them, and set their size because the vault allocates that amount of space. Each one of these vaults when set up becomes an individual drive letter on your PC. You can click on the vault and a password prompt shows up, type in the password and it is just like leaving the door open to your vault. You can push and pull files freely. As long as you have it unlocked it behaves just like any other file on your PC. I strongly suggest that you have McAfee Internet Security 2009 3-User installed as well. Keeping out a hacker in the first place is your first line of defense. If you open your vault and they have access, they also would have access to your vault contents. Therefore it is a good idea to lock the vault when you are busy doing other things, or creating a long document, and then quickly unlock it when you want to save it, or while doing a lot of file moving into it.

One thing that is important is that if you copy a file into the vault and then delete it on your open area of your drive, the file is still retrievable. That is a second reason to get the McAfee antivirus I just mentioned. It contains a shredder that based on the shredding level will make the file irretrievable. That shredder is also in McAfee Total Protection 2009 3-User comes with 3 licenses, and already includes the antitheft with 3 licenses as well. This stand alone anti-theft comes with only 1 license. So total protection is a bargain.

In addition to the password protection is also has multiple secret words that you input when you set up the program. That is important to prevent important file and data loss when forgetting the password.

If you have a laptop I can see how this anti-theft application is more or less a must have. Even on a desktop PC it acts as a final panic room, or whatever you call that room that you go to, that is barricaded when a burglar enters the house. (Remember the Jodie Foster movie) At first when I loaded the program and did a single reboot, the app froze when I tried to lock and unlock the vault. I was running other programs doing a search at the time. I rebooted and now everything works fine including locking and unlocking quickly. Now I am getting instant results. I really like having the protection built in and plan on using it quite often. The updates charge is a hassle after the first year, but with an inexpensive program how much can the update be. Makes me wish I got Vista Ultimate which has a similar function built in. If I had to do it all over again I would go right to McAfee Total Protection 2009 which has the anti-theft plus site advisor plus built right in. That way when I update my subscription, I wouldn't have to pay a separate update charge on the anti-theft to renew my subscription. Overall I would say this suite of protection is good stuff, highly recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon October 14, 2008
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The Good:

*Simple to use; user-friendly interface.
*An ability to create multiple vaults(from 50MB to 4GB) to keep your hidden files organized.
*Easy Access through your System Tray.
*Auto-Lock feature provides extra security if you leave your PC and forget to lock your vault(s.)

The Bad:

*Not compatible with Windows Vista 64-bit(at the time of this review.)

The Bottom Line:

Finally a simple program to hide the files you don't want others to see. The program starts by asking you the master password. After that, each vault you name and create asking you for vault's password. This is a good feature if more than one person share the same PC. Both of you must know the master password; However, each one of you can set a separate password for your vaults. Another great feature is the auto-lock feature. You can instruct the program to auto-lock your vault after assigned number of minutes of idle time or even when a screen saver comes on. Unfortunately Vista 64-bit users are left out in the cold for now, but I can see McAfee creating a 64-bit compatible program down the line.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon September 22, 2008
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I got this program for my laptop which I use mostly when I travel. I was always a bit uneasy about having the notebook stolen or have someone hack into my system while using it in a public place despite using security software.

McAfee Anti-Theft comes in really handy for this - it is an extra layer of security for my files with a 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard, and simply lets me sleep better when on the road.

What I particularly like about it:

1. Installation was as quick and as painless as can be. This is not a bloated piece of software. After installation it takes up only 4.45 MB on my hard drive. Compare that to Google Toolbar with a whopping 16 MB, just to give you an idea...

2. Setup was just as straight-forward. A few pieces of information typed in, such as what size you would like your vault to be (in MB) and you are up and running in all but a few minutes.

3. One great feature I really like is the ability to reset my access password for the vault locally, i.e. on my computer. My laptop has a fingerprint reader which offers a similar software program as McAfee Ant-Theft (access via finger swipe) but I am not quite sure what I were to do if the fingerprint reader one day stopped functioning. This has always made me quite reluctant to use it because what do I do with secure data if there is no way to retrieve them in case of malfunctioning hardware...

Anti-Theft, on the other hand, lets me set up 3 security questions (select from a choice of questions, then type in your personal answers). That way, should I ever forget my password, I can fall back on the reset function and am not completely out of luck.

Basically, the Anti-Theft vault works like a secure folder located in the My Documents folder. However, the actual files are not stored there, the icon in the My Documents folder is just a link. The files themselves are physically stored in my Windows User profile as one file with a .vault extension. One can also easily access the vault from My Computer, where it shows up as a virtual disk with its own drive letter.

I think this is a useful little program which will come in very handy in the future.

The reason I did not give it 5 stars is that I would have liked to see a bit more user friendliness when moving files to the vault. It would be nice if the program reminded one to delete the unprotected original files or even asked whether one wanted to keep or delete the unprotected files. But this is just a detail and all in all I am quite happy with this program.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon October 3, 2008
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
McAfee Anti-Theft is adequate for securing files on your computer, however it is limited. Installation is easy. The program isn't hard to use. Novice users will be more than happy with it since it's straight forward and simple. But by the same token, you might be better off buying a security suite that does more.

Personally, I've tried several free downloads that are just as easy and arguably more secure. If you're looking for just basic security encryption for files and folders, TrueCrypt, for one, is totally free and can encrypt and password protect folders, entire hard drives or even USB drives. It doesn't have pretty pictures of a safe protecting your files, but keep in mind, those kinds of things only tell people exactly where your private files are hidden, like a big flashing arrow that says, look in here! TrueCrypt has a very small footprint and no one would know it's even running, let alone what files it's protecting. It's a program that requires no installation, so it uses very little system resources. Just one alternative suggestion.

TrueCrypt offers several different algorythms which are all industry standard, and in my opinion, keeps files far more secure. I use it to encrypt a 100gb portable laptop drive with a duplicate backup of all my documents on it. The drive is 100% encryped and safe with an extra long and complex password. However, compared to McAfee, you'll have to do a bit of light reading to make it work. Nothing complex or difficult. But again, for the novice user who wants a simple to use program, McAfee is your way to go, but not necessarily the best way.

McAfee Anti Theft is more than adequate if you have a basic need to hide files from family members or others who may use your computer, but I bet any knowledgeable hacker who got their hands on your computer could still bust through it and get to your secure files with little fanfare. As far as online hackers, a more comprehensive internet security suite will do more to protect you. And I don't really buy into McAfee's claim that I'll need regular security updates to keep my files safe from hackers. The program either encrypts files or it doesn't. It's not like antivirus that needs new definitions on a regular basis. If your firewall is doing its job then your computer is already safe, with or without this program.

So overall, Anti-Theft is a solid program that does what it's supposed to, but it's just a little underwhelming for me to be more enthusiastic about it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon September 29, 2008
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
It does what it says it will -- but it doesn't do it very well. But let's start at the beginning:

1. Installation was a snap. It literally installed on my Dell laptop running Windows XP in seconds. McAfee wants you to open an account with them as part of the installation process, but that isn't necessary to get the program to run. You do have to restart your computer, however. Unfortunately, if you don't register with McAfee, every time you start your computer you get a splash screen asking you to do so. I find that a bit rude.

2. The program essentially creates (by partitioning?) additional drives on your primary hard drive. It calls these areas "vaults" and they reside under additional drive letters. In order to "protect" your files, you must move them into one of the vaults.

3. The problem is, something in the McAfee program prevents Windows XP from "moving" files into the vaults. During a normal "move" command, the file is copied to the new destination and then the original is deleted. Using the "move" command copies the file to the McAfee vault fine, it just doesn't then delete the original. You must remember to delete the original file or folder to reap the benefits of being protected by the vault system. I tried this many, many times and the "move" function worked as it should in all cases -- except when I was moving files into one of the McAfee vaults. This is not a deal killer, you just have to remember to go back and delete the files/folder that were in the original location.

4. That's another disappointment in the program. I was hopeful that McAfee Anti-Theft would simply permit me to encrypt certain files I felt were sensitive, but it requires you to keep them in a separate location on your hard drive. This means that other applications will have to be redirected to where the files now reside. If you have secure and non-secure files, that means the file open command in your applications will not always open to the proper folder.

It's an OK program, it does what it says it will do, it provides security for sensitive files, it's just a bit awkward to use. The documentation is accessed over the Internet, nothing of substance in the box except for the CD.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 25, 2008
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
One thing to note before ordering this software is that it does not support Windows Vista 64 bit. This gave a little disappointment because that is the operating system on my Laptop Computer but admittedly it does say on Amazon that it supports Windows XP and Vista 32 bit.

With this in mind, I went to install this program on my Windows XP SP3 computer. It would not install from Autorun or from the CDSetup icon on the CD-Rom. I had to go instead into the en-US Folder on the CD-Rom and install it from the Install icon. It then installed without any problems. I am not sure what caused this issue, maybe it is because I have another program causing conflicts but anyway no matter - it installed.

The first thing the program asks once you start it is for you to set up secret answers - this is important for if you ever forget your password. You can then create a vault which you name, give the size you want it to be and make a password for it. Once this is done then you can fill the vault with your secret information by transferring files to it and when you are finished - you lock it. When you want to access the information again, you just type in the password. You can create a number of different vaults.

That is really all there is to this program - It is simple to use and works around the tried and tested method of having a real vault but on your computer.

However, I would not underestimate its value because it could be significant in protecting any important information you have on your computer. For me, it is a worthwhile purchase but probably more suitable for a Laptop Computer where information is constantly at risk because they can be so easily stolen.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 13, 2008
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
McAfee Anti-Theft 2009 1 User needs Activation, to get the updates, and I would assume to register. It would be more ideal if written into the code of this activation was the Name of the person so that theft of any key files could be traced. This uses vaults to safeguard personal files , and for each password protected vault there is a set of three pre-defined questions if you forget your password ( no room is given for a user defined field).
There are ten questions in these fields, and all seem to be standard social engineering style questions, and therefore accessible by someone skilled in that area; a definite risk factor.
After the the solution questions, you then create the Vault Name, Size, and password. An advanced button allows for some more detailed manipulation.
The anti-theft step 3 gives instructions on how to secure one and only copies of files ( a risky prospect, but one useful for security ). When needed the vault can be transferred.
Apart from the lack of any useful instruction on Password quality ( you would think a password generator might be included or even suggested) there is little to help secure the vaults. Whilst a person familiar with standard and non -standard security will get a good run on this software, the average user should steer clear of this item since it is eminently hackable, and if you are seriously after a way to secure files, and/or Drive contents, there are better, and far more secure options.
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