Keeping teens safe online is the sort of thing that keeps me awake at night.
It’s easy enough to see if Flea is taking risks when she’s crossing the road, or making her hundredth packet of noodles this week.
But when she’s sitting with her nose in her laptop, or browsing her phone – who knows?
There are so many different concerns when you’re trying to keep kids safe online. Are they potentially being bullied, or sexting, or accessing inappropriate content? Could they be being ripped off on insecure websites, or being hacked?
F-Secure got in touch last week to invite me to try out a copy of their new security suite, F-Secure Total. Read on to find out how you could win a FREE 12 month subscription to F-Secure TOTAL worth £79!
What Does F-Secure TOTAL Do?
TOTAL is actually a suite of three different security products in one. There’s an anti-virus programme, a password manager and a secure VPN. You can also extend the suite by buying the SENSE router. The TOTAL suite can then protect your Internet connected smart home devices and appliances.
To get started, you’ll need to head to the F-Secure website and create an account. From there you can buy a 12-month subscription to total, costing £79.99. This will cover you for up to 5 devices.
Once you have an account you can download and install the software onto the required devices.
F-Secure TOTAL: Installation and Set Up
To test F-Secure total, we installed on an iPad and a Macbook.
The installation was quick, and straightforward, and the interface is really clean and easy to follow.
We opted to install the SAFE antivirus product and VPN to start with. At the moment, Flea doesn’t have enough passwords to make a password manager useful, so we skipped that download.
F-Secure SAFE in Action
I’ve used lots of different antivirus software over the years. My priority at this stage is software that reliably stops threats to my computer without slowing me down while I’m working.
On that score, SAFE performs well. It downloaded quickly, completed an initial scan in about 45 minutes, and thereafter ran a scheduled weekly scan in 5-10 minutes. I didn’t notice any particular slowdown in my desktop computer’s performance.
F-Secure TOTAL Parental Controls
However, you’re unlikely to be buying TOTAL for its antivirus capabilities. For families, SAFE’s attraction is likely to be the Family Rules feature.
It’s a quick and simple job to set up a device for a child within your F-Secure account, and set rules for each individual, or for the whole family.
F-Secure TOTAL lets you set web browsing restrictions and time limits for all registered devices, from within your F-Secure account. So you can easily set a limit so that browser access turns off after an hour, or at bedtime. This can be different for weekdays and weekends.
The software also supports safer online banking, and content filtering rules. Users are prompted to choose content preferences, and you can easily exclude things like violence, profanity, sexual content and more. The software works seamlessly with most Mac browsers. I assume it works just as easily on PC desktops, too (although we’ve not tested this).
This is all great, but – and it’s a big but – on mobile devices this filtering ONLY works within the SAFE app. You’ll need to download this from the relevant App Store for your device. Your kids will then need to get used to browsing the Internet using this new app, not the regular browser.
You’ll need to remember to disable Safari on your child’s device and ensure the settings don’t allow for it to be re-added, or an alternate browser downloaded. And do bear in mind that the SAFE controls/filtering won’t have any impact on social networking apps like Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook on mobile devices.
Parents can of course simply remove social networking apps and prevent children from installing them again via settings. But as my 13 year old likes to say to me these days, “Haven’t you already taken enough joy out of my life?”
Why do I need a VPN?
The other key feature of the F-Secure TOTAL suite is the Freedome VPN.
A VPN effectively takes Internet traffic that’s sent from and to a computer, and puts it into a secure tunnel. This means nobody watching can see where you or, what content you’re accessing, or what data you’re transmitting.
A VPN is also a good idea if you travel a lot, and are using coffee shop or hotel WiFi networks, which can often be less secure than your usual home or office set-up.
The challenge of VPNs is that sometimes they can be a bit sketchy, and you never quite know who’s logging what you’re doing. Or why they’re logging you. If you’re using a VPN purely to access US Netflix, then be prepared to be disappointed – most of the major VPN services were locked out of those sites quite some time ago.
Still, there’s a lot of reassurance in having a decent, safe VPN from a reputable company like F-Secure. I feel better for knowing Flea isn’t going to get hacked when she’s watching online content in Starbucks, and she can safely access email and online banking on the move.
The Freedome VPN seems to work well.
Installation and set-up is really simple across desktop and mobile devices, and I liked the new kill switch feature. This cuts the Internet connection in the event that the private VPN connection drops. It’s an extra layer of protection that’s useful. I also couldn’t notice any difference in speed on the iPad, although my laptop speed dipped a little in the evenings, especially.
Overall Review of F-Secure TOTAL
I think TOTAL is a really user-friendly security option for families. The ease of creating and setting up rules is a huge selling point for me.
I would also happily recommend this as a product that doesn’t cause too much lag on your computer. From our experience, F-Secure TOTAL seems to run unobtrusively in the background. It’s good to be able to download only the features you need to each specific device.
At £79, it’s not the cheapest product on the market. I suspect if you wanted to add more than two children, you’d need to spend more than £79, if each child has a phone and a desktop or iPad. These days, five devices aren’t very many! You can buy additional licenses here.
For parents with older children, it’s also important to consider the limitation of the parental controls for mobile devices – while TOTAL will protect browsing done through its own SAFE app, everything else needs to be locked down by the parent.
Win a Free 12 Month Subscription to F-Secure TOTAL worth £79!
F-Secure have given me two copies of F-Secure TOTAL to give away to readers of Who’s the Mummy?
Each subscription will provide 12 months protection of up to 5 devices, including desktops, tablets and mobile phones.
To be in with a chance of winning, simply comment on this post telling me what is your child’s favourite thing to do online.
The competition closes on October 15th, and there will be two winners!
Be sure to enter before the closing date of 11.59pm on October 15th (GMT). Winners will be picked at random from all eligible entries and announced on this site within seven days of the closing date. Winners will be contacted by email and the prize is a digital download code, valid for 12 months from the date of activation. This competition is open to UK residents aged 18+. By entering the competition you consent to your email address being used for the purpose of contacting you in the event you are a competition winner. Promoter and Data Controller: Flea Enterprises Ltd.