The software will help users filter spam out of e-mail and keep it out, said Atri Chatterjee, vice-president of worldwide marketing for McAfee.com.
The software connects to a user's Post Office Protocol (POP) or Messaging Application Program Interface (MAPI) e-mail account and scans all incoming messages for signs that they may be spam, he said.
SpamKiller comes preconfigured with a set of filters that route messages that appear to be spam into their own folder, he said. Users can also create their own filters and download new ones when they become available, much like antivirus updates, he said. The filters scan for keywords, repeated punctuation marks, commonly-known spam domains and other well-known features of spam, he said.
The user can configure the software to respond in a number of ways when an e-mail is identified as spam, including permanently blocking mail from that address, automatically forwarding the mail, along with a complaint, to the spammer's service provider and sending a message back to the spammer indicating that the e-mail address is no longer valid, Chatterjee said.
The software can also be configured with a "friends" list and users on that list will never have their e-mail blocked, he added.
The company will initially offer SpamKiller as downloadable software that runs on a user's desktop but will convert it into a managed service in the fall, Chatterjee said.
McAfee.com already offers managed antivirus, firewall and content filtering services. Users who buy the software now will be offered an "attractive" path for moving to the managed service, though they will not be required to do so, he said.
When the program becomes a Web service, it will be integrated into McAfee.com's Grid Security Services initiative, which uses XML to create a security system in which all participating McAfee.com customers will share security data, he said
Also targeted for future updates is support for Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP) and Webmail e-mail accounts, he said.
SpamKiller will be a useful tool even for users who have spam filtering installed at their Internet gateways or e-mail servers, Chatterjee said.
"Security needs to be done both at the gateway and at the desktop level," he said. Spam filtering done by Internet service providers "is one level of protection, you can always use another."
McAfee.com SpamKiller is immediately available priced $39.95 (£27.23).