The new applications are “version-less,” McAfee’s take on the popular software-as-a-service approach. This security-as-a-service online subscription allows updates that are made automatically and transparently in the background.

The Santa Clara, California-based company said that its new 2008 versions were the “industry’s first triple play,” with protection integrated between PC, Web, and mobile.

These new editions, the company said in a statement, offer several new features. Integrated search and surf protection offer advance warning as users peruse the Web, for instance, and there is new advanced protection against identity theft.

Eliminating Annoyances

To reduce the annoyance of security protection for a busy user, the new products use a “protection without interference” approach that tries to minimize disruptions. The new tools will not interrupt a full-screen video with a scheduled security update, for example.

Iinstant messages and e-mail are also given a measure of protection, and a new “unified licensing” makes it easier for subscription management of multiple PCs. The company has said that the new versions offer a reduction of 25 percent in startup time and memory usage.

The Total Protection product, designed for families, has a dozen components, including identity security, backup protection of files, protection from viruses, and home network monitoring. It includes the Internet Security Suite and VirusScan Plus products, plus Protected Mode browsing and SiteAdvisor-like link checking.

New features in the latest version of Total Protection include “enhanced safe search and surf” to prevent interaction with malicious Web sites. In this “protected” mode, the company said in a statement, there is protection for children and other users that redirects them to a safe page if they are about to encounter a risky site.

This protection applies regardless of how the site is found, whether by searching or surfing, or through receiving an instant message or e-mail.

Beyond the Basics

As a standalone product, the Internet Security Suite can offer such protection as securing a user’s identify, making backup files, and protecting users from viruses and other malicious attacks. The standalone McAfee VirusScan Plus is a six-in-one “proactive security service subscription,” offering protecting from viruses and other attacks.

Additionally, SiteAdvisor and SiteAdvisor Plus are available for standalone protection for what McAfree said is 95 percent of the Web, with color-coded Web site warnings that are made available as users search and surf to sites. It can be used to restrict children’s access to inappropriate material.

Last but not least, McAfee Mobile Protection offers protection for increasingly vulnerable cell phones. The package runs on devices using Windows Mobile 5 or Windows Mobile 6.