Much like Ask Toolbar is bundled with Java (and other applications), I've encountered several instances of applications bundling, and luring the user into installing, McAfee Security Scan. Adobe, I'm looking in your direction!

I'll try my best not to install McAfee Security Scan when prompted, or use Ninite (which doesn't install bundled software) when installing applications, but when providing support for my family and friends, it's obvious they don't.

How can I prevent McAfee Security Scan from being installed, e.g. bundled with other applications, in the first place?

4 Answers 4


If you have one of the following Windows versions...

Windows XP Professional, Windows XP Media Center, Windows Vista Business, Windows Vista Enterprise & Ultimate, Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Enterprise & Ultimate

... there's another way to block it - by using built-in Software Restriction Policies (SRP). But it will be impossible to install or run ANY McAfee's products, not just Security Scan Plus.

  1. Create a restore point, just in case (incorrect SRP settings may lead to inability to run any software, even Windows components, so be careful).
  2. Open Local Security Policy (secpol.msc).
  3. Right click Software Restriction Policies and select "New Software Restriction Policies".
  4. Click "Additional Rules".
  5. There we see two default rules that allow everything from Windows and Program Files folders. If that's fine for you, you can just create a third rule, that allows Adobe products and that's all, if not - read on.
  6. Delete default rules. Since SRP will not allow anything which isn't explicitly allowed, we need to create a rule that allows everything. Create a rule that allows executable with any path - "New Path Rule...", enter "*" without quotes in "Path", select "Unrestricted" in "Security Level", hit OK.
  7. Create a rule that restricts McAfee products. To do so we need any signed executable from McAfee Inc. If you still have Security Scan installed, that will do the trick, or you can download it from their site (just download, don't install). Now right click "Additional Rules" and select "New Certificate Rule...". Browse for any McAfee's signed executable (select "Signed Files" instead of "Certificate Files"), select "Disallowed" in "Security Level".
  8. Run Services and start Application Identity service (and make it start automatically).

That's it. Now you can try to download Adobe Flash with McAfee SSP ticked and it should not be installed anyway.

If you have Windows 7 Ultimate/Enterprise or Windows 8 Enterprise you can use AppLocker (Local Security Policy (secpol.msc) -> Application Control Policies -> AppLocker). It provides even better capabilities for software control.

P.S. Sorry for poor English :).


Using the same principle, as I originally used for preventing Ask Toolbar to be installed by Java, I've created a script that removes McAfee Security Scan, creates the folder MSS installs into and modify the permissions, so no one can write to it.

Copy the following code to Notepad, save it as a .cmd file and run it in an elevated command prompt:

REM Silently uninstall McAfee Security Scan (tested with 3.8)
REM and prevent future installations

REM Detect processor architecture
set proc_arch=x64
    if not defined PROCESSOR_ARCHITEW6432 set proc_arch=x86

REM Define McAfee Security Scan path
if "%proc_arch%" == "x86" set McAfeePath=%ProgramFiles%\McAfee Security Scan
if "%proc_arch%" == "x64" set McAfeePath=%ProgramFiles(x86)%\McAfee Security Scan
set McAfeeReadme=%McAfeePath%\..\McAfee_ReadMe.txt
set McAfeeRevert=%McAfeePath%\..\McAfee_RestorePermissions.cmd

REM Uninstall McAfee Security Scan
if exist "%McAfeePath%\uninstall.exe" start "" /wait "%McAfeePath%\uninstall.exe" /s /inner

REM Create dummy McAfee Security Scan folder
md "%McAfeePath%"

REM Add explanatory text file, as to why the dummy folder is there
echo The 'McAfee Security Scan' folder is has been created and write protected,> "%McAfeeReadme%"
echo in order to prevent McAfee Security Scan from being 'accidentally'>> "%McAfeeReadme%"
echo installed, e.g. by Adobe Reader.>> "%McAfeePath%\readme.txt">> "%McAfeeReadme%"
echo.>> "%McAfeeReadme%"
echo This has been done using ICACLS by denying write access to the>> "%McAfeeReadme%"
echo EVERYONE security group.>> "%McAfeeReadme%"
echo.>> "%McAfeeReadme%"
echo To revert permissions run:>> "%McAfeeReadme%"
echo %McAfeeRevert%>> "%McAfeeReadme%"

REM Create script to remove restrictions
echo icacls "%McAfeePath%" /remove:d *S-1-1-0> "%McAfeeRevert%"

REM Deny everyone (SID: S-1-1-0) write access
icacls "%McAfeePath%" /deny *S-1-1-0:(OI)(CI)W

Please note: ICACLS is included in Windows Vista and later. You can download ICACLS for Windows XP/Server 2003 through Microsoft KB943043 (but must first be requested, after which you will receive a link by e-mail to download it).

A similar approach can most likely be used to block most other kinds of piggybacking crapware.

Windows Explorer quirk: Access denied

Windows Explorer behaves a little strange if you try to open the folder. Even though you still have read access to the folder, Windows Explorer will tell you that access is denied, even though only write access has been denied.

This doesn't happen if you simply only have been assigned read access in the first place, but it seems to happen when you have been assigned read/write permission to the folder and then been denied write access.

Reverting permissions

The script has been updated to add a 'read me' text file and a script for removing the restriction again. Both are stored in the 32-bit program files folder.

  • 2
    It's ridiculous that you have to go to such efforts to remove unwanted software. All I can add is: be vigilant when installing software. God bless open source, and Adobe can go to hell.
    – user184411
    Dec 25, 2013 at 22:17

In case of Adobe Flash or PDF Reader updates ... on the download page of Adobe, there is an opt-out checkbox for mcaffee not exactly near, but not far from the install/download/update button.

Not nice, but anyway, checking it off did the trick.

enter image description here

  • 2
    This doesn't answer the question. The quesion states that this selection box is available but wants a solution for people who don't read the rubric.
    – Chenmunka
    Jul 8, 2015 at 14:12

I'm actually using a program called WinPatrol is a tool that prevents unwanted actions to be made on your system without your permission including changes to startup registry, type files associations and changes in your browser it actually works preventing thing such as Ask toolbar i never tried with it McAfee Security Scan, but probably should work since they probably act similar and it runs always on background so no need to use scripts for that i have installed it on machines from family i know that won't check things like that and when i come back i don't see this nasty programs installed...Try it with McAfee Security Scan, and come tell us if worked :)

  • I don't understand why someone give me a down vote the software i recommended can stop unwanted softwares to be installed including but no limiting to McAfee security scan
    – Freedo
    Jan 1, 2015 at 18:38
  • 1
    I'm going to guess that the downvote was because your answer is not a definitive solution. Guessing that something might work and asking the OP to provide feedback if it does belongs in a comment. WinPatrol is a good solution, though.
    – fixer1234
    Jul 8, 2015 at 20:24

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