- Reviewed on: 30 August 2018
Bitdefender's Total Security offering is a feature-packed product that's ideal for the security conscious, the family, and the traveller.
At time of writing it is discounted to just £29.99 for a year. UK readers can take advantage of that deal here.
In the US, it's $44.99, and is available to buy here.
Included in the price tag for 5 devices (which can include Windows, Mac OS, Android and iOS) you get all the usual protections, plus a password manager, a parental advisor, and a 200MB per day per device VPN.
Along with file and system scans, there is a dedicated vulnerability scan that checks for outdated software and weak network passwords.
It also offers protection from new and emerging threats, such as ransomware. Bitdefender uses a double-layer defence against the newest of its kind and has been further improved with the 2019 update of the software.
There's also new Network Threat Prevention in Total Security 2019, which aims to stop attacks before they even begin.
Read our Bitdefender Total Security 2019 review.
- Reviewed on: 19 February 2018
Norton Security Deluxe is a slick product that has the feel of Symantec's impressive next generation business-oriented products.
We'd highly recommend it, and at time of writing it's available with 57% off here.
It's discreet, benefiting from its parent company's technology and cloud support. Norton also makes a "100% virus promise" that an expert will keep your devices virus-free or your money back. Backing all this, the Norton Studio app allows you to control all protected devices from a single Windows machine.
You'll get Browser Protection included, as well as a password manager, Scam Insight and performance tools to help speed up your computer.
The price of this protection weighs in at £69.99/$97.95 for 5 devices, though hefty discounts are available throughout the year from the Norton website. At time of writing, it's £29.99/$49.99 for a year.
Read our Norton Security Deluxe 2018 review.
- Reviewed on: 5 January 2018
ESET has a deceptively simple interface that hides a genuinely impressive and detailed tool set. Delightfully affordable, it is among our favourite antivirus options for PC.
With a raft of features, it offers great value for money. The Syninspecter tool, for example, shows you a complete yet manageable rundown of your entire system's security status. There's also a social media scanner, anti-theft tools, a Home Network Protection tool, banking and payment protection and lots more.
One small downside is that there is currently no explicit ransomware module in the interface, however it does provide excellent protection from ransomware under the hood.
Read our ESET Internet Security 11 review.
- Reviewed on: 25 April 2018
AVG Ultimate is a solid security suite that's well worth considering. With unlimited installs, it's great value for families.
You'll get a file shield, web shield, a built-in firewall, a ransomware module and other layers of defence to keep your computer protected from all angles.
Plus, there are several types of system scan including a dedicated USB / DVD analysis.
An integrated password manager, VPN and driver updater are value-added extras, and also included in the price is PC Tuneup.
Read our AVG Ultimate 2018 review.
- Reviewed on: 10 May 2018
At first sight, there's little to choose between Kaspersky Security Cloud and Kaspersky Total Security. All the main antivirus tools required are in both products, making them both options worth considering.
What's significant about Security Cloud is that it contains patented adaptive security tech that automatically adjusts your settings based on your current activities.
It helps you detect unauthorised devices and dodgy websites, as well as helping you make stronger passwords and manage those passwords safely.
It can also help you avoid adware like browser toolbars, and you'll get mobile antivirus included.
Read our Kaspersky Security Cloud review.
- Reviewed on: 21 March 2018
Total Protection is a big claim, and this product lives up to its promise on many fronts. With unlimited installs and a Virus Protection Pledge, you certainly get bang for your buck.
You'll find features including a Vulnerability Scanner that downloads the latest versions of your apps, in addition to its antivirus scanner and it web and email protection. There's also a password manager.
My Home Network gives you a thousand-foot view of your network, enabling you to see instantly if you have any unauthorised devices.
At time of writing, McAfee Total Protection is half price at £39.99/$39.99 here.
Read our McAfee Total Protection 2018 review.
- Reviewed on: 11 December 2017
Designed to beef up protection for home networks, BullGuard Premium Protection 2018 has a network scanner to protect any internet connected device in your home, in addition to the expected malware detection, a vulnerability scanner and more features to help secure your PC.
An identity protection feature searches the web for leaked details, while a parental control module helps you keep an eye on your children's use of mobile devices.
There's a game booster to block popups and optimise CPU performance, as well as a PC tune up facility that will be useful to non-gamers too.
The interface is a bit on the technical side, with lots of scan types, options and settings, and there's no dedicated anti-ransomware module which is a shame.
It costs a reasonable £69.96/$99.95 for a whopping 10 devices, and there's a 60% discount available at the time of writing. There are lower priced options available for less devices but they miss out on some features.
Read our BullGuard Premium Protection 2018 review.
- Reviewed on: 19 July 2018
Sophos Home Premium has a low price tag, a healthy device count and cloud-based management that impressed us. The mobile app is feature packed, too.
The protection modules are comprehensive and specialised, and included a dedicated ransomware module. However, there are some key features missing such as a local network scan and the ability to shred a file.
It's priced at £40/$50 per year for 10 devices, but there is also a more limited free version available for three devices. You can download either option here.
Read our Sophos Home Premium review.
- Reviewed on: 27 April 2018
Avast Premier 2018 has a lot going for it, and is certainly user friendly, but we found that the constant opportunites to upgrade functinality you can get free elsewhere, plus the intrusive ads on the mobile version, make it look overpriced compared to rivals.
You will, however, get a firewall, several scan types and a very welcome ransomware shield, as well as a file shredder and web protection tools, so despite the initial misgivings it is still surprisingly good.
Read our Avast Premier review.
- Reviewed on: 18 June 2018
In addition to the usual malware scans and protection, Avira Antivirus Pro 2018 offers Home Guard to scan your local network and router for unauthorised devices and vulnerabilities, a Privacy Pal to scan your system for digital traces that could be used to track or profile you, a password manager, browser plugins to protect you whilst surfing the web and more.
However, there are lots of features you'll need to upgrade to the Prime version for, including performance features and a VPN, which is particularly confusing because they're described as 'Pro' versions within the app despite not being available within Avira Antivirus Pro.
Read our Avira Antivirus Pro 2018 review.
Antivirus software detects, and then prevents, disarms or removes malicious programmes or malware, often referred to as viruses. Antivirus doesn't offer a perfect solution to the problem of malware, but it's a critical first step to securing your machine. It's also important to keep that software updated.
But internet security software is no longer just about countering viruses. Although they still exist, viruses are arguably a minor part of the malware now prevalent on the web.
More important now is security of personal data and protection from ransomware. Security exploits aren't about show-off hackers massaging their egos, anymore, but about monetising their malware.
The modern day criminal doesn't have to be a hard-line hacker, either. They can buy all the software they need, and millions of addresses, on the dark web or even on eBay, if they know where to look.
Zero day attacks
Malware is evolving faster than ever, but fortunately the latest generation of antivirus - or AV - is better equipped than ever to handle new threats.
Although the primary concern is to block malware so it doesn't install on your PC in the first place, there isn't an internet security suite made which is 100% effective.
That said, worthwhile internet security and antivirus software should also detect so-called 'zero day' attacks, where the malware is so new it hasn't yet been analysed or had 'signatures' build into internet security protection routines.
The speed with which these analyses are made is an important factor in the level of protection an internet security suite can provide. Some companies now claim a turnaround of well under an hour, using information gained from their own customers about similar attacks.
The cloud element in security applications is growing more and more important in speeding up this process. Some products are now using behaviour analysis and even artificial intelligence to make things quicker and more reliable.
Newly-installed software can be monitored, looking for suspicious activity and can be prevented from potentially damaging actions, such as changing registry entries or installing any browser add-ons. Ransomware can also be identified by unexpected attempts to encrypt your files.
Find out if your smartwatch needs antivirus.
How we test antivirus software
Every program on this list is worth your investment. The differences between the top few are relatively minor. The critical thing is to install one of them.
We test them by teaming up with the UK's SELabs, as well as Germany's AV-Test.org, both highly respected independent security-software testing labs. Each rigorously tests AV products from a number of leading security companies.
The multifaceted testing procedure looks not only at how well an AV product can detect malware using traditional, largely signature-based methods (that is, employing a database of known malware types), but also how well it can block brand-new, unknown malware caught fresh from the wild. These companies also examine how well security products clean up after an infection if a piece of malware does get through.
Our tests focus on paid-for AV products, but there are some free options available. Paid-fro AV products usually offer better technical support and more comprehensive protection features than free programmes, but free is free and some free packages can still give paid packages a run for their money. Internet security suites go further still, offering firewalls, parental controls, identity theft protection and more.