Offsetting Artemis and McAfee's otherwise generally good malware detection rate, however, were its slow scanning speed, its interface annoyances, and its very poor performance in proactive, behavioural detection tests.
In AV-Test.org's malware-detection tests, which use 654,914 collected malware samples and then measure how well antivirus detects the nasties, McAfee Internet Security Suite 2009 performed respectably.
It caught 97.4 percent of malware thrown at it, although McAfee Internet Security Suite 2009 lagged with a 90 percent success rate at identifying spyware varieties that steal passwords and financial information.
These results mean that McAfee Internet Security Suite 2009 doesn't quite compare to the score of about 99 percent for top performers such as the Avira security suite and the Norton security suite, but is much better than the sorry 55.7 percent rate that the Trend Micro package produced with password stealers.
The new Artemis feature sends a signature of to-be-scanned files over the Internet to McAfee's servers, which can then compare the files against a much larger and more up-to-date signature database that the one that resides on your PC. Artemis probably contributed to McAfee Internet Security Suite 2009's decent showing.
On the other hand, McAfee Internet Security Suite 2009's performance in behavioural tests, which examine how well antivirus products can identify unknown malware based solely on how it acts, was dismal. McAfee's package was able to warn about some aspect of malware behaviour for only 2 out of 15 samples, or 13 percent of the time.
McAfee Internet Security Suite 2009 also failed in scan speed tests. It was second to last of all the 2009 suites we've tested for on-access scan speed, which refers to how quickly files are scanned when you access or open them. It did somewhat better in on-demand speed, which involves scheduled and manually run scans, although it is by no means the quickest.