Best internet security suites of 2020: anti-virus and anti-malware cyber security – TechRadar

Internet security suites offer a comprehensive range of protection for your online devices. While antivirus is the always the base feature, others that these packages might offer include ransomware protection, a VPN, and even a password manager. These really are all-singing all-dancing online security downloads for those wanting the best possible protection.

And it's not just desktops and laptops that can benefit from internet security suites as there are also versions for Android and iPhone smartphones. Because they cover multiple devices (usually five or more), you can protect all the gadgets of you and your family on one easy plan - Windows and Macs both included.

Some providers also offer a rescue disk feature to rollback any existing attack, and encryption software for added security protection is also commonly included. Many now also come with additional privacy features, and a firewall as standard.

While internet security suites and antivirus packages are commonly aimed at domestic consumers, also note services that are specifically aimed at businesses, such as cloud antivirus and endpoint protection to offer business grade protection. There are also online cyber security courses available to help improve staff awareness.

Which ever internet security suite you're looking for, and for whatever device, you'll end up with more than just basic software with our selection of the best. Here are the ones we think are currently best on the market.

Beefy protection across all fronts, plus PC maintenance tools

Operating system: Windows and Mac, Android and iOS | Maximum devices covered: 10 | Stand out features: Safepay online banking protection, high-quality ransomware defenses, web protection module

Huge range of features

Excellent web surfing protection

30-day trial (no card details needed)

Potential performance impact

Bitdefender Total Security is the well-respected security firms top-of-the-range package, and it comes positively bristling with features as a result.

You get deep breath antivirus plus impressively capable ransomware protection, a firewall, Wi-Fi security advisor, a secure browser (Safepay) for online banking, file shredder, vulnerability scanner, password manager, email spam filter, parental controls, webcam and microphone defenses, and more besides (including a superb web protection module for blocking malicious URLs).

As well as security features, Total Security provides various PC maintenance and optimization tools. These are somewhat useful in themselves, for cleaning out superfluous files and streamlining boot times but more importantly, Bitdefenders flagship package also covers more than just Windows devices, providing apps for Macs, along with Android and iOS mobiles.

As its only marginally more expensive than Bitdefender Internet Security the firms mid-tier security suite its well worth the upgrade to Total Security if you have multiple devices across different platforms to protect.

About the only fly in the ointment is that Bitdefender Total Security may exact a bit more of a toll on the performance front than the best of the competition, although we found it to be around average in terms of any slowdown caused on our PC. Your mileage may vary, and indeed you may notice nothing at all.

Another plus point with Total Security is that theres a 30-day trial, with no payment details needed; you just have to supply an email address. That means you can try out the security suite yourself for a full month, and see if theres any performance impact on your own PC, before committing to buying.

An intelligent security suite thats great value for money

Operating system: Windows and Mac, Android and iOS | Maximum devices covered: 10 | Stand out features: Safe Money secure web browser, intelligent adaptive protection, Safe Kids parental controls

Excellent virus engine

Top-notch parental controls

By far the best value in the Kaspersky range

Some features are only so-so quality

Kaspersky Total Security is another veteran of the security world, and as you might expect, it delivers top-quality defenses with some impressively intelligent adaptive protection capabilities (like warning you if a password youve just chosen is too weak).

One of the issues with the entry-level Kaspersky Anti-Virus package is that its rather flimsy when it comes to extra features, sticking to the core basics and not delivering much else. Which is why it makes good sense to go for Kaspersky Total Security, mainly because it provides far more functionality, and doesnt cost much more than Kaspersky Anti-Virus (in fact, with the discounts on plans at the time of writing, it can be the same price or even cheaper to get Total Security, so youd be foolish not to, really).

Total Security gives you all the basics, including fast, accurate and highly configurable virus scans. On top of that, you get an intelligent firewall (it doesnt plague you with pop-up messages asking what to do), a secure web browser, protection from webcam hijacking, a software updater, file backup tool, along with a solid password manager, and Kasperskys Safe Kids module.

The latter is an excellent parental controls system with some smart social media monitoring tools. While not all the features are up to this standard some extras, like the troubleshooting wizards, and spam filter, are wobbly around the edges overall, youre getting a hell of a lot for your money here.

Offers an integrated VPN, and keeps the whole family safe

Operating system: Windows and Mac, Android and iOS | Maximum devices covered: 5 | Stand out features: Parental controls, VPN, online backup, dark web monitoring (US)

Light on system resources

Fully integrated VPN

Superb parental controls

Theres no trial version

When we evaluated all of NortonLifeLocks security suite options, we picked out Norton 360 Deluxe as the best value all-round choice for anyone whos looking to protect more than a single device which is likely the majority of folks.

Theres a wealth of features here, including excellent antivirus protection coupled with a very light touch when it comes to resource usage, bundled with webcam protection, and dark web monitoring (for US users only, mind), and a system of parental controls.

The parental controls are top-notch, by the way, including in-depth monitoring systems to keep an eye on what your kids are doing online, and even GPS tracking for their mobile devices. Nortons even stronger than Kaspersky in this department, and thats saying something.

There are some truly worthwhile extras included here, too, like a fully integrated VPN (which could be a big money-saver in itself) and 50GB of online backup storage (ditto).

Norton 360 Deluxe will cover up to five devices (and that means you can use the VPN with those five bits of hardware as well), either Windows or Mac PCs, plus there are mobile apps for Android and iOS. Pricing is highly competitive compared to rivals, so you should definitely consider this Norton package particularly for family usage given the very thorough parental controls.

Sterling malware and ransomware protection in a beginner-friendly package

Operating system: Windows and Mac, Android and iOS | Maximum devices covered: 10 | Stand out features: Folder Shield anti-ransomware, high-quality URL filter, password manager

Multi-layer anti-ransomware

Streamlined user-friendly interface

Impressive range of features

Experts may want more configuration options

Theres a lot to like about Trend Micros flagship security suite - Trend Micro Maximum Security - not the least of which is its polished and user-friendly interface, backed up by robust virus protection and multi-layered anti-ransomware defenses.

The package also gives you better-than-average URL filtering for safer web browsing, and this system is smartly configurable, too. That said, one slight weak point with Trend Micros offering is that there isnt a huge amount of low-level control such as virus scan options so more demanding users may find it lacking here.

Maximum Security also provides parental controls, social network protection, and PC maintenance tools, although the latter isnt a strong suit. It also boasts data theft prevention countermeasures, a secure vault for storing sensitive files, and an impressive integrated password manager.

Less tech-savvy types will appreciate the ease of use here, which also goes for the capable mobile apps. Theres a 30-day trial as well, so you can thoroughly check all this out for yourself before buying.

A quality all-rounder security solution

Operating system: Windows and Mac, Android and iOS | Maximum devices covered: 10 | Stand out features: Ransomware Shield, Wi-Fi Inspector, SecureLine VPN

Well-featured suite

Bundled VPN

Plentiful configuration options

Some impact on PC performance

Upselling of other products is unwelcome

Avast is best known for its excellent free antivirus product, but the firm also provides an impressive all-round security solution in the form of Avast Ultimate. This is another offering which bundles a full VPN, giving you far more protection online than a typical antivirus suite, and making Avast Ultimate a value-packed buy for those who are also thinking of picking up a VPN.

Avasts SecureLine VPN may not compete with the best VPN providers out there, but it delivers a solid enough and importantly speedy enough service. Avast Ultimate also sports a decent password manager, a secure browser, and some excellent network protection measures.

This suite has plenty of options for experts to play with in terms of configuration, and has solid enough antivirus defenses, backed up by a very commendable Ransomware Shield for extra protection on that front.

There are some minor irritations here, notably some of Avasts unwelcome attempts to flog its other products in a paid-for suite, and we observed a little system slowdown in our review. But these niggles aside, if you need a VPN as well as antivirus, Avast Ultimate is a great choice.

Supremely streamlined and fast-performing security suite

Operating system: Windows and Mac, Android and iOS | Maximum devices covered: 5 | Stand out features: Password manager, identity protection, 70-day money-back offer

Unbelievably lightweight app

Really quick scan times

LastPass-powered password manager

Question marks over antivirus engine

iOS app is limited

Webroot majors in being incredibly lightweight and fast-performing. Indeed, it has a minuscule memory footprint, and takes up next to no space on your system drive, as the products virus definitions are all stored in the cloud.

Yet despite this minimal impact on your machine, Webroot Internet Security Plus comes with plenty of features. Theres online banking and identity theft protection, plus webcam protection, an accurate anti-phishing system, and a password manager (which is actually powered by LastPass one of the most trusted names in password management, so you can be assured of the quality here).

Downsides? Well, you might get lightning quick malware scans, but Webroots antivirus engine hasnt been evaluated by the big-name independent testing labs in recent times. Thats not necessarily bad, but from what weve seen ourselves and what ratings are out there theres something of a mixed picture of its antivirus accuracy. Also bear in mind that the iOS app doesnt offer malware scanning (it consists of a secure browser, backup, and password manager).

Still, Internet Security Plus is a well-rounded package, and a 70-day 100% money-back guarantee shows Webroots confidence in its suite.

Demanding users will really appreciate ESETs configurability

Operating system: Windows, Mac, Linux, Android | Maximum devices covered: 5 | Stand out features: Network protection, password manager, anti-theft feature

Highly configurable

Very light on system resources

Some features are underpowered

Independent lab test results arent the best

ESET Smart Security Premium packs in a lot of features. This includes parental controls, network monitoring, additional network protection, webcam protection, secure file encryption, and an anti-theft feature for Windows devices (allowing for location tracking, and more) is an interesting bonus.

That said, the quality of some features can vary: for example, the system of parental controls is pretty barebones, but the password manager is very well fleshed-out. ESET also offers plenty of configuration options, which will please experts, although computing novices may find it tricky to get to grips with in some respects.

ESETs core antivirus protection seems solid, albeit with some mixed evaluations from independent testing labs.

Bear in mind that ESET Smart Security Premium isnt a great value proposition for longer-term subscriptions either, but its fine for a one-year plan, and a decent shout for an all-round solid security suite (plus it covers Linux, too).

Way better value than McAfees entry-level antivirus

Operating system: Windows and Mac, Android and iOS | Maximum devices covered: 5 | Stand out features: Configurable firewall, password manager, performance boosting tools

Browsing and app performance boosters

High-quality spam filter

Decent value

Clunky interface

Only average malware protection

As the name suggests, McAfees baseline product, Total Protection Individual, only covers one individual device. And if youre thinking of buying it, and you own more than just a Windows PC, then youre almost certainly better off purchasing McAfee Total Protection Multi-Device. For not much more money, you get a sound security suite which protects up to five Windows or Mac computers, and Android or iOS devices. US customers also get a useful additional extra in the form of identity theft protection.

McAfees interface is simple and streamlined, which keeps things easy for beginners, although itll likely be too sparse for more experienced users. The UI also suffers from some annoying quirks.

Independent test lab reports suggest McAfee Total Protection offers solid enough antivirus defenses, if not class-leading. Overall, McAfees suite represents reasonable value and a decent choice in the Multi-Device package, with some nifty extras for boosting web browsing and app performance.

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Best internet security suites of 2020: anti-virus and anti-malware cyber security - TechRadar

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