In 2020, if you want to be as safe as possible on the Internet, you’ll need the best web protection, and only an internet security suite can provide that. While a regular antivirus engine can be incredibly effective against “traditional” malware, it might not offer comprehensive protection as best antiviruses does. Ransomware, spyware, adware, phishing, keylogging — these threats are just as dangerous if nothing else.
Losing sensitive data to ransomware or getting your credentials stolen by a keylogger is a disaster. To encrypt the most critical files, hide your online activity from prying eyes, or keep ad pop-ups at bay, you’ll need a security suite. This maximum security solution usually also includes parental controls, webcam protection, data shredders, and more.
Of course, it depends on the network security software developers and their policies. Some focus on providing the widest lists of extras. Others prefer to stick to the essentials, drop the price, and thus make their products more attractive to the regular users. Every single program on this list is a highly effective, capable, top-rated solution. The difference is in their additional features and tools, so, go over the list carefully until you find a suite that, well, suits you best.
We collected ten leading security suites that are equally affordable and reliable. We’ll start by talking about their pros, cons, and come up with a verdict for each product. Next, we’ll share a quick guide on how to differentiate between average-at-best and truly effective software. Total protection is a necessity not only for businesses and enterprises but also for home devices, especially if you keep sensitive data on them.
Statistically, most potential clients start with free editions or free trials and generally upgrade to the entry-level paid packages. Only a short number of users pay for an internet security suite and get access to advanced features like the ones mentioned above. That’s exactly why the threat of cybercrime for home users is now higher than ever.
1. Norton Security Premium — Top-Rated Protection
- Superb malware protection
- A generous list of extras
- Unlimited VPN
- LifeLock ID protection
- Simultaneous protection for 10 devices
- Cloud Backup (100GB)
We don’t like:
- Above-average system impact during full scans
- No secure browser or data shredder
As an all-in-one kind of a package, Norton Premium is a worthy product. The company offers quite a long list of plans to pick from, and SP is one of the most advanced ones to date. A quick note: Norton’s antivirus core is the same, regardless of how expensive (or cheap) the plan is. It is true for most leading antivirus solutions, by the way.
The difference is in the additional features, and with Premium, you’ll get access to a few useful extras. These include 100GB of cloud storage, protection for up to 10 devices (simultaneously), an unlimited VPN, and parental controls. ID protection comes with Norton’s LifeLock service. It offers dark-web personal data monitoring, an alert system, a restoration team (based in the States), and a million-dollar protection package.
Overall, this mobile and PC internet security suite is a can’t-go-wrong-with solution. While it’s a bit more expensive than the closest rivals, thanks to the ID theft protection service, your data will be more secure than ever. Oddly enough, Norton Premium doesn’t offer a file encrypter, data shredder, or safe browser. Apart from that, you’ll find pretty much every relevant security feature inside of this suite.
With industry-leading anti-malware protection, cloud backup, a password manager, and parental controls, Norton Security Premium is a bargain. Add a full-fledged, non-limited VPN, as well as the company’s trademark one million dollar protection package, and you’ll see why it’s a leading product. It will serve as a brick-strong shield for every single device you own, both desktop and mobile.
2. Bitdefender Total Security — Highly Reliable Security Software
- Leading antivirus protection
- Low system impact
- User-friendly, easy to use
- Protects against network-based attacks
We don’t like:
- Mobile apps are not as feature-packed
- The VPN comes with a data cap
The majority of antivirus reviews are calling Total Security the best solution on the market. Compared to, say, Bitdefender Internet Security, its Total Security is compatible with all major platforms, includes more extras, and is highly affordable. That’s exactly why we decided to pick this package over the others (including the most expensive Premium Security).
With it, you’ll get industry-leading antivirus protection, a low system impact, a friendly interface, and coverage of up to 15 devices. Password management, battery management, file encryption/shredding, secure browsing, and ransomware protection are all a part of the deal. Sadly, the Android and iOS apps don’t have nearly as many additional features. But, since our focus today is on PC products, that’s not even a significant con.
The 200MB/day cap of the VPN, however, is a bit disappointing. That will be enough to protect online transactions, but not for streaming or torrenting. In third-party lab tests, Bitdefender is almost as impressive as Norton and Kaspersky. It is highly effective, exceptionally accurate, and works faster than most rivals.
Summing up, this Bitdefender internet protection suite will be a good investment for people that put security first. With the recently-updated Ransomware and NTP (Network Threat Prevention) modules, it’s more reliable than ever. The brand-new dashboard is also a welcome sight.
3. McAfee LiveSafe
- Protection for an unlimited number of devices
- Virus protection guarantee
- 100% virus removal
- Excellent anti-malware protection
- Easy to use, highly configurable
We don’t like:
- More expensive than the rivals
- Slows down older hardware
Unlimited user licenses, along with the virus protection guarantee, make McAfee LiveSafe a sure pick. The antivirus engine is strong against malware, while the anti-ransomware and anti-phishing modules keep the emerging threats at bay. In third-party lab tests, this product proves to be as good as the leaders: it detected 100% of our planted malicious samples without any false flags.
As for the additional features, you can expect to get a reliable password manager and parental controls. Both are very intuitive and easy to use, especially the password manager that links all your passwords and helps to come up with hard-to-track combinations. Anti-spam, ID protection, and 100% virus removal guarantee are even more reasons to consider LiveSafe.
It’s important to note that this is a more comprehensive package than McAfee Total Protection. The fact alone that it covers an unlimited number of devices (including desktop and mobile platforms) seems like a very good deal to us. That also means it’s a rather expensive solution. And, on older devices, the software slows down performance, especially during a full scan.
McAfee LiveSafe wins over the competition by offering unlimited licenses and a virus removal guarantee. If it’s brick-strong protection against all known threats that you are looking for, we recommend adding it to your list of must-haves. It’s not as affordable as most rivaling products, but LiveSafe will be money well spent, especially if you own lots of devices that need protection.
4. TotalAV Internet Security
- Decent anti-ransomware and spyware modules
- User-friendly, straightforward interface
- Below-average system impact
- More affordable than most rivals
We don’t like:
- Average anti-malware protection
- VPN doesn’t come for free
In many ways, TotalAV Internet Security is similar to McAfee Total Security. These two products are effective against modern threats, user-friendly, and easy to install. However, TotalAV is more affordable and has a lower system impact, which will be a big selling point for users on a budget that own relatively slower hardware.
It includes powerful modules against ransomware, spyware, and phishing. Safe Site is a browser extension, and it prevents malicious URLs from stealing your data. There’s also a built-in optimization tool that boosts overall OS performance and gets rid of unnecessary files on the hard drive. There are apps available for PC and mobile platforms.
Malware protection is decent, but it doesn’t have what it takes to compare with Kaspersky, Norton, or Bitdefender. Plus, while TotalAV does provide a Virtual Private Network, and it’s good enough, it needs to be purchased separately.
Users in search of an affordable internet security suite with several extras will find TotalAV’s offer to be rather intriguing. It has a low system impact, supports all popular platforms, and is strong against ransomware and spyware. On the other hand, its antivirus core leaves a lot to be desired and isn’t on par with the best of the best.
5. PC Matic Home
- A full-fledged optimization program
- Lots of options, highly configurable
- Whitelist-based protection algorithms
- Incredibly low system impact
We don’t like:
- Several features are average at best
- Too many false positive
Let’s make one thing clear right from the start: PC Matic Home isn’t an ordinary cybersecurity suite. True, it does include an antivirus engine, along with several extra protective tools/features. However, it has an effective optimization service, a program that focuses on improving the operating system’s performance. Anti-malware protection is just one of its many modules.
On the bright side, PC Matic Home is a very “modest” solution and requires minimal system resources to run. It’s intuitive and easy to set up, with lots of options and settings that you can fine-tune. The main menu is a little too much, though, meaning it’s cluttered with various menus and buttons. But, you’ll get used to that in no time.
The software uses the so-called “whitelist-based” approach to dealing with malware. And, while it’s not as effective as the more traditional methods, it does provide decent anti-malware protection. At the same time, the number of false positives is alarming and can be quite frustrating. Plus, some of the available features are exact copies of the regular Windows modules and aren’t of much use.
As mentioned, PC Matic Home is a cybersecurity solution that involves optimization of OS performance, and protection from the threats as one of its functions. In this regard, one can call it a suite of cybersecurity decisions. Considering such peculiarities, we opted to include it into the list where we compare internet security software, as it can be a useful option and contribute to the user’s experience.
6. Kaspersky Total Security — Arguably, the Best Security Suite
- Unmatched malware protection
- Strong against ransomware and phishing
- Two-factor authentication
- A generous list of extras
- Easy to use, highly configurable
We don’t like:
- Full scans are quite heavy on the system
- VPN usage is limited
Kaspersky Total Security is one of the obvious leaders when it comes to malware protection. No other security suite has better performance in third-party lab tests. Plus, it’s very effective against phishing and ransomware attacks, thanks to the constantly updated modules. The two-factor authentication system makes your online accounts as strong as they can be.
The list of additional features also includes parental controls, a password manager, backup capabilities, and more. Strangely enough, the built-in VPN is rather limited, and you’ll have to pay extra for unlimited use. The basic version offers 200MB of traffic per day (for each connected device).
Kaspersky Total Security’s interface is straightforward and easy to navigate — everything is within reach. You can access the privacy, protection, and other settings in a couple of clicks. However, the full scans have a high system impact, especially on older hardware. When working in the background, the software isn’t very demanding.
Kaspersky is the king of anti-malware, ransomware, and phishing protection. And, despite the recent allegations, we still recommend it as an excellent internet security suite. It doesn’t have any significant cons, except for the above-average performance impact during scans. The extra features make it a universal tool that can protect not only your device, but also ID, passwords, and more.
7. Avast Premium Security
- Lots of useful extra features
- Friendly, fast, low-impact
- Two-factor authentication
- Full-fledged protection against modern threats
- Includes optimization tools
We don’t like:
- Not the best anti-malware protection
- A bit too expensive||Limited VPN usage
Avast is widely known as the best free antivirus and a highly user-friendly product. But what about Premium Security — the company’s flagship package — is it a superb security suite? Well, it doesn’t have the most reliable antivirus core on the market and lags behind the leaders. Still, it’s well above average and performs decently in third-party lab tests.
Secondly, it has advanced anti-phishing, ransomware, and spyware modules that keep emerging threats at bay. As for the additional features, with Avast Premium Security, you’ll get Wi-Fi security scans, a password manager, a two-way firewall, and a spam filter.
Sandbox (used to run suspicious files safely), webcam protection, data shredder, and optimization tools are also a part of the package. Last but not least, Premium Security can simultaneously protect up to 10 devices.
Avast’s ultimate package will be a good pick if you’re looking for a perfect balance between security, ease of use, and extras. It’s not the strongest anti-malware solution, but thanks to the friendly interface, low impact, and a generous list of features, it can be a good investment.
8. BullGuard Premium Protection
- Simultaneous protection for up to 10 devices
- ID Theft protection
- Cloud integrated backup (25GB)
- Vulnerability scanner
We don’t like:
- Doesn’t include a password manager
- No integrated VPN
- Average malware protection
Protection for 10 simultaneous connections, protection against ID theft, and cloud storage — that’s what BullGuard’s flagship package has to offer. On top of that, it includes a vulnerability scanner, anti-spam protection, vast parental controls, and auto-updates. BullGuard Premium Protection is available for Windows, Mac, and Android (no iOS support yet).
The anti-phishing and anti-ransomware modules, along with the secure browser, make it impossible for hackers to penetrate your OS. The firewall, behavioral engine, and advanced machine learning systems, in turn, take care of the most aggressive threats by adapting to the environment. For a performance boost, we recommend using the available PC Tune Up tools.
Add leading customer support, competitive pricing, and a user-friendly interface, and you’ll see why we decided to include Premium Protection on the list. The bad news is — anti-malware protection is average at best. Furthermore, while the feature set is decent, it still lacks some useful extras.
BullGuard doesn’t have any standout features that make it a better choice compared to the rivals. It’s so-so anti-malware engine, along with the lack of several important extras, doesn’t allow us to call it a sure pick. Protection for ten devices, ID theft prevention, and cloud storage, on the other hand, are good enough reasons to consider it.
9. Webroot SecureAnywhere Internet Security
- Above-average antivirus protection
- Optimization tools (for Win and Mac)
- Low system impact, fast, thorough scans
- 25GB of cloud storage
- Exceptional URL blocking
We don’t like:
- Lacks third-party lab test results
- Comes with a limited password manager
- Ransomware protection is average at best
Thanks to the cloud-based threat detection and elimination system, Webroot has an incredibly low system impact. It’s compatible with Windows XP and will run flawlessly on a decades-old computer. Speaking of the cloud-based approach, whenever the software finds suspicious activity, it sends all the necessary data to the company’s datacenter.
All the heavy processing is done on server computers. All that’s left for the program to do is to execute the datacenter’s commands. While this is a rather advanced and effective technique, it’s very hard for leading independent testers to evaluate Webroot’s real-time performance. Our team of experts had to run its series of tests to confirm that it does, indeed, provide above-average protection.
Anti-phishing protection is on par with the leaders, but ransomware protection lacks behind the likes of Kaspersky and Norton. The password manager is limited; yet, the rest of the extras, including the optimization tools and the 25GB of cloud storage, make up for that. Webroot Internet Security includes parental control; sadly, there’s no VPN available yet.
As an internet security suite, Webroot’s offer is highly competitive and reasonable. Compared to the less expensive packages, it adds tune-up tools, a file shredder, and backup capabilities. All of these features are very useful and worth paying for. The effective anti-malware protection, along with the low system impact, makes it an even better deal.
10. Trend Micro Maximum Security
- Efficient against malware
- Covers up to 10 devices
- Efficient ransomware protection
- Strong against zero-day attacks
- Includes a file shredder and secure browser
We don’t like:
- High system impact during full scans
- An above-average number of false positives
- No webcam protection, VPN, or 2-way firewall
Maximum Security is Trend Micro’s most expensive and comprehensive internet security tool. It can simultaneously cover 10 devices, protect your passwords, and safeguard your kids from explicit content (with parental controls). The secure browser and file encryptor can also be quite useful. However, we were surprised to learn that Maximum Security doesn’t have a VPN, (two-way) firewall, or protection for the webcam.
In our malware protection tests, this product proved to be highly reliable. The same can be said about its anti-ransomware capabilities. On the downside, the full scans take a very long time to complete. Plus, they require a significant amount of computing resources, which can be a problem on outdated machines. The above-average number of false positives is another big con.
With Maximum Security, you get protection for up to 10 devices and strong anti-malware and anti-ransomware modules. Additionally, It’s packed with a good set of extra features. On the other hand, full scans are very heavy on the system resources, plus, the number of false positives is well above average. Users that put protection first will like what this software has to offer. The rest might want to reconsider.
What’s the Best Security Suite?
So, we talked about some of the best antivirus products — 10 internet security suites with the most impressive feature sets. The list includes both advanced and ultimate packages. They protect not only against basic threats but also the most alarming trends of 2020. We tested over 50 security suites, including limited, entry-level, full-fledged, and cross-platform solutions.
Our focus was on PC products, not Android and iOS. Yet, since these aren’t just antivirus programs, but security suites, all of them are also compatible with the leading mobile platforms. Now, if you’re looking for a can’t-go-wrong-with solution, we recommend sticking with Kaspersky Total Security. Bitdefender (also Total Security) and Norton are close seconds.
They come packed with anti-ransomware, spyware, adware, keylogging, and phishing protection. Avast is all about user-friendliness and low impact. Webroot takes a different approach to fighting cybercriminals. The same is true for PC Matic. But how do you know which product will suit you best? How do you pick between all these options and find the one that fits your current needs?
We compiled a short yet effective guide that will help you learn more about the key features of a good web security suite. What’s the difference between a traditional antivirus and a security suite? What are VPNs, firewalls, anti-spyware, and anti-theft protection modules? Read on to find out!
What’s the difference between antivirus and Internet Security?
To put it simply, internet security is about more than antivirus protection. Antivirus software focuses on the most important yet basic level of malware protection. An internet security suite, in turn, is a comprehensive solution and includes various features for an extra layer of security. Network protection, vulnerability search, advanced scanning — that’s a small part of what a security suite provides.
Two-way firewalls, anti-keyloggers, VPNs, ad-blockers, and parental controls are the most useful and vital extras. Then we have webcam and mic protection, safe banking, anti-spyware modules, ransomware protection, and more. Security suites cover not only desktop systems, but also mobile platforms (running on iOS and Android devices).
A quick note: while all these extra features do, indeed, improve your device’s safety, they are also more demanding of the hardware. The difference isn’t drastic, but if you own a rather old computer, you might want to take advantage of a free trial before committing to a certain product. Plus, regular antiviruses (or entry-level packages) are more affordable and might be a better pick for you. This is especially true for users that don’t own many devices.
Basic and Advanced Security Suites
Most top internet security companies offer not one but several packages. Potential clients can choose what fits their needs and wallet. In most cases, you’ll see at least three available plans, including a standalone antivirus product, a basic security suite, and an ultimate plan with a long list of extra features.
The good news is — the majority of entry-level suites include strong firewalls, protection against spam, and parental controls, along with traditional anti-virus protection. But, to get the best virus protection, you’ll need to upgrade to the most expensive tier. These usually add a password manager, a VPN, tune-up/optimization tools, file shredders, data encryptors, and more.
The exact set of features varies depending on the security suite, of course, but not drastically. When shopping for security software, it’s crucial to know in advance what you’re looking for. While entry-level packages aren’t as comprehensive as the more expensive ones, you might not even need most of the extras.
For this post, we picked ten internet security suites with the best price-quality ratio. They are equally reliable, feature-packed, user-friendly, and reasonably-priced.
Fighting Malware, Adware, and Spyware
Anti-malware protection is the core of any antivirus suite. Without proper protection against modern-day malware, you’ll always be running the risk of getting infected. Real-time protection and protection against zero-day attacks — this is what you should be looking for in any security solution in 2020. And the best way to see whether a certain product is worth your while or not is to check its performance in third-party tests.
The fact alone that the leading labs evaluated it (we’ll talk about them in more detail further down the review) speaks highly of its capabilities. The higher the rating a security suite gets, the more reliable it is. Spyware is an emerging threat, one that can’t be taken lightly. It hides deep in the operating system, collects and sends data to the hacker(s) on the other side.
Spyware is capable of stealing sensitive data like logins and passwords. Adware, in turn, isn’t nearly as dangerous; however, it is very annoying thanks to the constant pop-ups. Furthermore, while adware is, indeed, harmless, it often contains malicious code that poses a real threat. Free antivirus programs usually don’t include protection against spyware and adware, which is why we recommend using paid products.
The best firewalls on the market have two important jobs. First of all, they find vulnerabilities in the network and prevent outside threats from breaching it. Secondly, they keep tabs on the apps running on the OS and stop them from getting unauthorized access to the Internet. A quick note: the built-in firewall for Windows 10 protects the network but doesn’t manage the apps.
The same is true for many paid internet security suites: they don’t include a firewall and fully depend on the default Windows module to handle everything. As for the best suites, they have two-way firewalls that take care of everything (both outside and inside threats) and do it without ever bothering the user. Web protection is one of the most critical tasks of any anti-virus solution, especially if you’re frequently using unprotected public Wi-Fi networks.
Phishing and Privacy Protection
We use the term “phishing” to describe websites that trick users into sharing their credentials. These fraudulent websites are fakes but look like exact copies of legit banks, online dating resources, and more. The second you enter your logins and passwords, the criminals steal them and access your accounts. So, even if you have the best virus protection, but lack anti-phishing modules, you won’t be protected by these types of attacks.
Proper anti-phishing protection detects suspicious websites before the user visits them and sends immediate warnings. In most cases, fraudulent resources are automatically blocked by the antivirus to avoid any potential harm. Online banking, safe browsers, anti-keyloggers, and ID protection modules provide an extra layer of privacy protection.
Online banking/shopping launches a 100% safe browser, which was specifically designed for security. Anti-keyloggers, in turn, block keylogging software that copies user’s keystrokes and, again, steal sensitive data. Finally, ID protection is a long list of services that detect account breaches, prevent further intrusions, and consults the user on what should be done to minimize the losses.
Initially, Virtual Private Networks had only one goal: to turn users into a digital shadow. They achieved this by channeling his/her traffic through an encrypted server. Yes, by using a VPN, you can mask your online activity and prevent hackers, government agencies, and even your ISP from monitoring your actions on the Internet.
These days, VPNs are also used for downloading torrents and accessing geo-restricted content. We’re talking about streaming platforms like Netflix and HBO that block access to content based on your location. With a VPN, all of these restrictions can be lifted. Most leading antivirus software includes a Virtual Private Network (sometimes, with a data cap).
We highly recommend using one when shopping or banking online. While safe browsers, anti-keyloggers, and other advanced features are quite effective, you can never be too careful when sharing your logins and passwords. As mentioned, a VPN makes it impossible for hackers to follow your presence on the Internet. Make sure the VPN provider is user-oriented and doesn’t belong to any intelligence alliances.
How We Test
Our team of experts evaluates products based on their performance, protection, user interface, and extras. Does a security suite slow down performance during a full scan? Does it have a friendly dashboard, or is it cluttered with unnecessary menus and buttons? How well does the antivirus engine protect against emerging threats? Is the line-up of additional features on par with the rivals?
These are the questions that we seek answers to during our in-house tests. We use different devices (including desktop and mobile) and different operating systems — this helps us stay objective and get accurate readings. Plus, we consider the results of the most respected independent lab testers. Those include AV-Comparatives, AV-Test, SE Labs, MRG Effitas, and more.
This is it for our list of the best security software. We reviewed ten leading offers on the market, talked about their pros, cons, and came up with a verdict for each product. As we learned today, security suites are different from regular antivirus products and mostly provide better protection against online threats.
With cybercriminals evolving and creating new hacking tools, it’s vital to take advantage of all the latest developments in cybersecurity to stay safe. Without the help of VPNs, password managers, anti-keyloggers, webcam protectors, and modules against phishing and ransomware, you’ll be easy prey for the attackers. But if you pick one of the solutions from today’s list, you’ll be well protected.