Security

Product Review: Cut anti-virus administration with McAfee's VirusScan ASaP

Review the features of McAfees VirusScan ASaP

For years, my company used McAfee's Total Virus Defense (TVD) software to protect our network. This system is composed of several components, such as VirusScan, which protected our nearly 50 clients; NetShield for our servers; and GroupShield, which scanned our e-mail. While TVD contains a comprehensive range of software and provided an adequate level of protection, my company is expanding and, as the only full-time IT person, I have little time to spend administering an antivirus system. We have also recently moved from Windows NT4 to Linux on all of our servers. Because TVD did not offer a Linux option for our servers and e-mail system, we decided to reexamine our entire antivirus system.

With the company growing rapidly, we needed a system that was both scalable and required little regular maintenance, as I do not have the time to visit each client machine to ensure its virus software is installed and up to date. After reviewing several options, I decided McAfee's VirusScan ASaP  would be the perfect solution.

VirusScan ASaP: McAfee's online antivirus service
VirusScan ASaP is a managed, online antivirus service. Subscribers to this service install a small application on their client machines. This application handles virus scanning and automatically updates the machine's virus signature files each day. Updating is accomplished using McAfee's Rumor technology  and does not require that clients have an Internet connection.

Once installed across a network, VirusScan ASaP provides IT support personnel with Web-based reports that offer an overview of the entire network and antivirus environment. These reports provide enterprise-wide information, such as coverage status summary, desktops updated, and viruses cleaned, deleted, and quarantined. Administrators can access these online reports 24x7 through a secure Web site. McAfee states that all reports are exclusively secured with an administrator login and an SSL connection. Click here to see several VirusScan ASaP sample reports. These reports were one of the main reasons I chose ASaP over other antivirus products.

Pricing will vary depending on the number of workstations you choose to protect. For 100 workstations, VirusScan ASaP would cost around $38 per workstation, with one year of support. The minimum system requirements for VirusScan ASaP are:
  • Minimum 486 PC (Pentium or higher recommended).
  • Windows 95, 98, NT workstation (4.0 SP4 or higher), 2000 Professional, Me, or XP.
  • RAM requirements for Win 95 and 98 are 32 MB minimum, 64 MB recommended; for Win NT, 2000, Me, and XP, the requirements are 64 MB minimum, 128 MB recommended.
  • Microsoft mouse or compatible pointing device.
  • 256-color VGA monitor or higher.
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.01 SP2 or higher, or Netscape Communicator 4.6x or 4.7x with Internet Explorer 4.01 SP2 or higher.
  • Internet Independent Updating requires Microsoft Internet Explorer v5.00 SP2 or higher.

Quick and easy installation
You can install VirusScan ASaP via three methods: Common, Silent, or Push. Using the Common installation method, the one I chose, you simply distribute to all your end users an e-mail that contains customized installation instructions and an installation URL that McAfee will custom create for your organization. All end users need to do is click the URL and follow the instructions to download and install the application. Using the Silent installation method, you download the VirusScan ASaP Silent Install Package VSSetup.exe, which can then be installed on your desktops using third-party deployment software. Finally, for those IT organizations that do not have third-party deployment software but want to install the software themselves (keeping the user out of the loop), the Push Install Utility is the best choice for deploying the VirusScan ASaP software.

The VirusScan ASaP client program is small, and I found installation to be quick and simple. Once the installation is complete, the client is protected and automatically updates its virus signature files without any further interaction with the end user or IT staff.

The VirusScan ASaP software can neither be disabled nor the settings changed. If users right-click on the toolbar icon, they get the choice of Scan Now or Update. If users double-click the toolbar icon, VirusScan ASaP will update the virus definitions. This was a big plus for our organization, where end users would often disable our old antivirus software because it caused system performance to suffer. I’m glad to say that we have had no such performance problems with VirusScan ASaP.

Only minor migration glitches
Our transition from TVD to VirusScan ASaP went rather well. During the installation process, we encountered a few minor problems with the detection of old antivirus software. (VirusScan ASaP detects and removes old versions of McAfee antivirus software.) Although this feature worked well 90 percent of the time, some of the machines ended up with both the old and new applications. Another unforeseen problem was the human factor. Some users failed to click the e-mail link or ignored the e-mail altogether. But by using the VirusScan ASaP Web-based reports, I was able to quickly tell which workstations did and did not have the software installed.

Once the VirusScan ASaP software was installed on all our clients, we noticed another minor problem: Windows 98 users were getting SPOOL32 errors when trying to print. I suspected the VirusScan ASaP software only after trying several other solutions, but once I sent a support request to the VirusScan ASaP team, they responded quickly with an answer. This is an issue they are aware of and are trying to correct. They informed me that Windows 98 users could solve this problem by using Spool.dll and Winspool.drv from Windows Me. Once I made the adjustment, the problem disappeared.

Significant reduction in administration
Since the installation of McAfee's VirusScan ASaP software, we have had several infected files come across our network, but all have been dealt with quickly and effectively. Our level of virus protection is also higher because our signatures are updated on a daily basis and, best of all, I no longer need to manage the process. This has given me lots of extra time, as I no longer respond to the types of problems we had with our old antivirus software, such as users disabling the software or forgetting to update their definitions. The move to VirusScan ASaP has also helped me in ways that I had not considered. For example, I now have an accurate list of all of our workstations and their e-mail addresses because this information is available on the Web-based reports.
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