Think all internet security suites are the same? Not even close. Our comprehensive tests show you which of today's suites to trust, and which to skip.

PC security becomes a more difficult task as each year passes. And 2009 was no exception.

Online attackers created more malware last year than in the previous 20 years combined.

Clearly, this means that in the realm of computer security, the rules have changed, and you can no longer rely solely on traditional definition-based antivirus software and firewalls to protect your PC.

Instead, to meet this new breed of threats, you need a new breed of security.

Over the past few years, security suites have been improving, thanks both to the enhancement of traditional detection methods and to the addition of behavioural analysis.

The latter technology detects malware based exclusively on how it acts on your PC - a good way of catching threats so new that security vendors haven't yet made definitions to identify them.

And many suites now have cloud-computing features that compare questionable programs and files against online databases to better identify the latest threats.

With these cloud features working alongside behavioural analyses, suites can better detect malware they've never seen before.

Almost all the security suites we tested this year also include some form of antirootkit technology.

Rootkits - a kind of stealth malware used to hide infections - were once the concern only of big businesses, but they have gradually become more commonplace.

All these changes mean that security suites are detecting and blocking malware faster than ever.

Nonetheless, we found some significant differences in just how well security suites protect your PC.

NEXT PAGE: Which security suite came out top?

  1. We look at just how the different suits vary
  2. Which security suite came out top?
  3. The performance hit