Dell offers 90-day trial of McAfee software

The Internet can be a scary place for home users with always-on broadband Internet connections, because these connections make PCs more vulnerable to hackers. To help these broadband consumers protect themselves, Dell Computer Corp. is offering new purchasers of its Dimension desktops or Inspiron notebooks a free 90-day trial of McAfee Security software, Dell announced Monday.

The Dell SecurityCenter package allows new users to run McAfee VirusScan Online, McAfee Personal Firewall Plus, and McAfee Privacy Service for 90 days at no cost. After the 90 days expires, consumers can purchase a 1-year subscription for US$69 to continue running the services, Dell said.

VirusScan Online protects users by automatically detecting and removing viruses and worms. The software also automatically checks in with McAfee via the Internet to receive the latest virus definitions, and prompts the user to download them.

Personal Firewall Plus sets up a firewall for home users. Just about every corporation uses a firewall, which blocks sensitive data from hacking attempts. The McAfee product monitors the content sent to the Internet from users’ computers, so users can detect if they have inadvertently downloaded so-called “spyware,” software that sends a record of a user’s Internet activities to a server. It also records intrusion and hacking attempts.

Parents concerned about the Web surfing habits of their children will be interested in the Privacy Service, which allows parents to set time and content restrictions as well as block cookies and pop-up ads.

Dell also announced it will help users set up home networks or wireless connections through Dell-certified service technicians. For $159, Dell will send a technician to a user’s home to set up 802.11b wireless Internet access or show consumers how to network multiple PCs.

The new offers come as the holiday buying season kicks into full gear. Four million visitors accessed Dell’s U.S. Web site for the week ending December 8, four times as many visitors that came to the site over the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday weekend, Dell said Friday. Traffic was interrupted to Dell’s site on Wednesday for a few hours, but the site was fixed, and Dell’s IT staff is looking into what caused the problem, a Dell spokesman said.