Network Security - A Calgary ISP (Critical Analysis)

The other day I came home and I saw a pamphlet in my mailbox.  It was a local ISP tempting me to purchase their services over my current provider.  (this article is by no means meant to be slanderous towards an ISP in my area.  It is meant as a critical analysis of a provided service).

You should know that I truly don't care who my ISP is.  I take care of the network security at my home.

This provider, who so kindly left their info in my mailbox was offering $6/mo for additional security services.

Here I am, a person mindful of cybersecurity, I was left wondering, what can $6 do for me that I can't take care of myself?  Or is this just a ruse to dupe folks into signing up for internet packages?

I'm conducting this analysis in a different way, I'm going to write my thoughts down as I read about their $6 additional security.  I think it will be a fun experiment, maybe my view point will change by the end!?  As of this writing, I know nothing about what comes with the $6 or why anyone should buy it. I will be tongue in cheek.  You have been warned ;)

Let's dive in.

You may have figured it out by now but yes it is Shaw. A quick look at their website and I have a few questions.

Right away we are given a generic statement.

"Attackers use several methods to steal your files, information and identity, or even attempt to takeover your device. Network Security helps defend your network and devices from these threats." 

It goes on to list "Ransomware" "Hacks" "IOT".

Save me from the Hacks please!!!

Further down in order to get more info you need to be a customer, however I was able to get this.

"For just $6/mo44, get comprehensive cyber security for your home network and protection for up to 10 devices44 with McAfee® Multi Access."

I think people may have split opinions on McAfee.  I tend to view anything related to this company with trepidation.

 McAfee Multi Access boasts the following:

1. Anti-Malware

2. Anti-Virus

3. App Protection (I actually find this kind of advertising frustrating, what does that even mean? App Protection?)

4. ....and a whole suite of Security tools!

At this point there is no more information on the website. I have to start digging in other piles now.

I found a link that explains a bit more about Multi Access. [3]

There is a video on the link and it explains that "If you are at coffee shop you are quite vulnerable."  This is true and MA apparently can detect if someone is trying to "hack" you.  Not much details on how though.

 The video further goes onto explain that you can track, lock and wipe remote devices.  This is actually a very useful tool.  Having control of MDM for your own devices is a nice security feature.

A single license directly from McAfee will protect up to 5 devices, with this ISP you get 10.  Do you have 10 phones/tablets at home?

According to the site you get alerts if a website is "suspicious." However with a small amount of education you can be able to catch these sites yourself.  Also there are many browser plugins that can do this work for you, and honestly probably do a better job at it.

App protection.  As you read earlier I was confused by what this means I found a video that explains it [4].

Basically, when you download an app MA will do a scan and give you a risk rating on it.  At this time it will give you an option to delete it if you want.  Some would say that if an app was built with malicious intention, the damage is already likely done by just downloading it.  So this feature might just be making people feel good about "catching" a bad app.


I wish that this ISP was more up front about what comes with the $6 fee.  Its peanuts in the long run, but their primary sales website is so broad that I feel like it was obvious that their target market are folks who are unaware of general cybersecurity. 

The primary site talks about "..many other security tools!"  I could not easily find any info on what these tools are.  Are there actual tools?  I am skeptical.

MA is geared more towards your mobile devices, tablets and phones.  It doesn't seem to be a great fit for desktops/laptops.  My opinion on this is based solely on the fact that most of MA's features are focused on phones.  You can track, set off an alarm on the phone, take a picture of whomever has stolen it and finally you can wipe the device.

If wiping a stolen phone is your primary reason for wanting this service then I guess it is not a bad option because the other features are not really worth it honestly.

There are open source tools that you can add to your systems that will help protect you as you browse.  Also if you have any ounce of security awareness then you can probably come to the conclusion that all of the "features" they are offering you can easily be taken care of by yourself.

So MA is a decent tool for users who have limited security awareness but for those who are cognizant of security you can easily protect your environment with out paying extra for MA.







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