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UK freelance journalist and author Sean McManus

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McAfee has installed Adware on my PC

29 December 2006

McAfee sells internet security solutions, including antispam and anti-pop-up programs. But it seems the company's attitude is that 'spam is other people', because it has installed adware on my PC to promote its own products. There is no way to disable the adverts, and McAfee's own technical support has failed to provide a solution.

According to Wikipedia, adware is:
any software package which automatically plays, displays, or downloads advertising material to a computer after the software is installed on it or while the application is being used.
I have installed McAfee Internet Security to protect me from security and privacy threats, including unwanted advertising. Despite having a valid licence for the software and having renewed my virus definitions subscription recently, McAfee keeps interrupting my work to show me upgrade adverts like this (24 December 2006):

McAfee advert

and this (today, 29 December 2006):

Second McAfee advert

Notice how my options are are to buy the software, or carry on working. There's no option not to be pestered with adverts again. And they keep coming back.

If the advert came up once or there was an option to tell them I didn't want it, it might be less annoying. But as it is, it looks like I'm stuck with these adverts until I buy new software or uninstall the software I've already paid for.

I've contacted McAfee tech support twice. The first contact took me about half an hour and achieved nothing. The second piece of advice was to disable all internet pop-ups. That will interfere with internet banking and many useful websites, and should not be necessary to stop the adverts. I don't think either of the tech support people understood that the adverts were within the application and not on third party websites, although I was clear to emphasise this. I can only conclude that McAfee has not scripted a solution to this problem.

I'm sure some bigwig at McAfee has decided that these adverts are a good idea. "Once every day isn't much," they probably thought. But surely they can see how their entire credibility is undermined by this action? How can I trust McAfee's spam filter and ad blocker now that I know it uses its own software to display intrusive advertising? Will it green-light spam from 'carefully selected partners'? Clearly, the company will say not, but I've always thought that actions speak louder than words. And the action I'm seeing is my train of thought being interrupted so the company can repeatedly plug a product I don't want.

If anyone from McAfee reads this and would care to respond, please contact me. In the meantime, I would advise you to avoid McAfee software.

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