Internet security is more important now than ever before. As we move more and more of our information and communication online, with online banking, social media, official services and more, it's so important that we can trust that our details aren't tracked or shared with the wrong people.
If our information is hacked, we could be facing loss of privacy, issues with access to our own user accounts and even financial trouble. Therefore, we want the best internet security software available to us. It has to be trustworthy, powerful and easy to use, but of course we don't want it to slow our computer down too much in the process.
In partnership with Bitdefender
Bitdefender Total Security 2019 has all the tools in Bitdefender’s basic internet security suite, including a password manager and parental controls, plus it includes secure online storage for important files.VIEW DEAL ON Bitdefender
We have been researching and testing internet security programs for 15 years. In addition to testing the software ourselves, we keep an eye on test results from independent labs. We also subscribe to security and IT news outlets and blogs, which means we receive quick alerts about any security breaches or newly discovered malware. Further, our team attends trade shows and conventions specific to computer protection to stay on top of what’s evolving in the industry
Before we started testing internet protection programs, we spoke to several industry experts to learn how most computers are infected with malware. These experts have combined professional experience that spans several decades. Using the information we gathered from these software developers and IT personnel and a professional hacker, we developed our in-house tests to accurately mimic real-life scenarios, so we know exactly how each antimalware program keeps your system clean.
We tested 14 internet security programs to see how well each one detects and blocks malware.
We also considered whether the software slowed our computer and evaluated the quantity and quality of its advanced security tools. Based on what we found, Norton Security Deluxe is our top pick. It does a good job protecting against malware, plus it has an impressive toolset. Add in its minimum of three user licenses, mobile compatibility and 100-percent virus protection guarantee and Norton becomes a great value pick, too.
Norton Security Deluxe
Norton Deluxe performed well in our malware detection tests, didn’t noticeably slow our computers and is easy to use. It also comes with a virus protection guarantee and several advanced tool.
McAfee LiveSafe comes with unlimited user licenses, plus it earned a perfect score in our in-house malware detection tests. It also comes with a protection guarantee, which adds to its overall value.
Bitdefender Total Security 2019
Bitdefender Total Security 2019 has all the tools in Bitdefender’s basic internet security suite, including a password manager and parental controls, plus it includes secure online storage for important files.
|Product||Price||Overall Rating||Value||Test Results||Malware Protections||Privacy Tools||Minimum Licenses Included||Virus Protection Guarantee||Mobile Compatible||In-House Malware Protection Score||Overall Malware Protection Score||Effect on System||Ease of Use||Ransomware Detection||Antiphishing||Spam Filters||Personal Firewall||Secure Browsing||Vulnerability Scans||USB||Gamer Mode Enabled||Social Network Protection||Password Manager||Parent Controls||Secure Delete||Safe Banking Tools||Webcam Protecton||VPN||Weekday Phone Support Hours (Eastern Time)||Weekend Phone Support Available||Live Chat|
|Norton Security Deluxe||View Deal||5/5||9.3||10||10||10||3||✓||✓||97%||99%||100%||90%||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||Manual||$||✓||$||✓||✓||$||$||24/7||✓||✓|
|Bitdefender Internet Security 2019||View Deal||5/5||9||10||9.3||10||3||99%||100%||100%||80%||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||Manual||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||24/7||✓||✓|
|McAfee Total Protection (LiveSafe)||View Deal||5/5||10||9.8||9.3||7.3||Unlimted||✓||✓||100%||100%||85%||80%||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||$||✓||Manual||✓||✓||✓||24/7||✓||✓|
|Trend Micro Internet Security||View Deal||4.5/5||9||9.8||10||8||3||100%||100%||80%||85%||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||Manual||X||$||✓||✓||5am - 8pm*||✓||✓|
|ESET Internet Security||View Deal||4.5/5||8.3||10||10||8.8||1||99%||99%||100%||90%||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||Automatic||$||✓||✓||✓||✓||- 5pm||-||-|
|Kaspersky Internet Security||View Deal||4.5/5||8.5||10||10||8||1||✓||98%||99%||85%||90%||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||Manual||$||✓||✓||✓||5am - 11pm||✓||✓|
|Avast Internet Security||View Deal||4.5/5||8.5||9.8||10||7.5||1||X||98%||99%||85%||75%||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||Automatic||✓||✓||$||$||$||24/7||✓||-|
|eScan Internet Security||View Deal||4.5/5||8.5||9.8||9.5||8||1||92%||99%||100%||70%||✓||✓||✓||✓||$||$||✓||Manual||✓||✓||✓||✓||24/7||✓||✓|
|Panda Dome Advanced||View Deal||4.5/5||8.8||9.8||9||8||1||X||97%||99%||75%||65%||✓||$||✓||✓||✓||✓||Manual||✓||$||✓||✓||$||9am - 5pm*||$||$|
|Webroot Internet Security Plus||View Deal||4.5/5||9||10||8.3||7.8||3||98%||98%||100%||80%||✓||✓||✓||✓||$||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||24/7||✓||-|
|Avira Internet Security||View Deal||4.5/5||8.3||9.8||9.3||8.8||1||96%||99%||85%||70%||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||Automatic||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||24/7||✓||-|
|BullGuard Internet Security||View Deal||4.5/5||8.5||9.5||10||7.3||1||85%||92$||75%||80%||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||Manual||✓||✓||✓||24/7||✓||✓|
|Comodo Internet Security Pro||View Deal||4.5/5||9.3||9.8||7.8||7.3||3||95%||97%||75%||80%||✓||✓||✓||✓||Manual||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|F-Secure Internet Security||View Deal||4.5/5||8.5||9.8||7.8||7.3||1||98%||99%||84%||65%||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||$||✓||✓||$||9am - 6pm||-||✓|
Norton Security Deluxe goes beyond basic antivirus protection by including several advanced tools that keep you and your family safe online.
Overall, the program earned high scores for malware detection and protection. During our tests, it blocked sites with phishing schemes and stopped Trojans, rootkits and other malicious downloads.
A few viruses snuck by, even when Norton claimed to have stopped them, which was disappointing. However, the program successfully found and removed these threats during deep virus scans. Norton also displayed warning messages when we attempted to visit websites with known malware links and downloads on them and marked search results when we used search engines, such as Google, to let us know if a site was safe to click through to.
Norton Security Deluxe includes a personal firewall and can run vulnerability scans to prevent hackers from entering your system through your internet connection or outdated software. It also includes a password manager and safe banking tools.
This internet security program comes with a minimum of three user licenses and is compatible with Windows and Mac computers as well as Android and iOS phones and tablets. As such, you can protect multiple devices with one purchase of the program.
Overall, McAfee LiveSafe is a good program for protecting your computer against threats like Trojans, viruses and ransomware.
It’s also a good value because it comes with unlimited user licenses and a virus protection guarantee.
McAfee found and blocked every threat we used during our in-house testing, and other security testing labs have reported an uptick in McAfee’s detection rates. When a threat starts to download, the program stops it before it gets too far into the process and either quarantines it or immediately removes it from your system. A detailed report of the threat displays the moment it is blocked, or you can view it from the McAfee dashboard later. This report tells you the type of threat the program blocked, how dangerous it was, and webpages and server IP addresses where the same threat has been found so you can avoid visiting them.
When you use a search engine, such as Google or Bing, McAfee places an icon next to each search result to let you know if the site is safe to visit. McAfee LiveSafe also includes parental controls and a password manager.
Best premium security
On top of providing excellent protection against both Mac and Windows malware, Bitdefender Total Security 2019 has a personal firewall to monitor what comes in and goes out through your internet connection.
It also includes parental controls, so you can keep tabs on what your kids see online and set when they can access the internet.
The program’s VPN keeps your search and browser histories hidden so they can’t be logged or tracked. As such, adware can’t create targeted advertisements based on the sites you visit. Bitdefender Total Security also has social networking tools that check links posted online and let you know if they lead to a malicious site.
When Bitdefender finds a threat, it immediately scrubs it from your computer so the malware can’t revive and reinfect your system. The software also provides the most comprehensive protection for all your computers, laptops and mobile devices. The biggest difference between this premium program and Bitdefender’s Internet Security suite is the premium version includes 2GB of online secure storage you can share between all your protected devices.
Best mobile protection
Kaspersky Internet Security is compatible with both Android and iOS cell phones and tablets.
Further, all the program’s tools that work on computers also work on these mobile devices, including its antitheft alerts, password manager and parental controls.
Kaspersky’s parental controls are some of its best features. You can use them to block inappropriate websites by selecting filter categories, such as pornography, drugs or suicide, as well as set when you child can be online and for how long.
The program also earned high scores for malware protection and is simple to install and use.
The basic Internet Security package comes with a single user license and is comparable with other security suites. Kaspersky offers decent discounts if you purchase multiple licenses at once, which makes the software more cost effective. Unfortunately, it doesn’t include online backup storage, though this feature is available with Kaspersky’s premium program, Total Security.
Best gaming protection
We are very impressed by Avast Internet Security’s gaming tools, especially its gamer mode, which automatically enables.
When you begin playing a game, Avast Internet Security senses it and suspends some functions so more of your computer’s resources can be used while playing. It also doesn’t interrupt you with pop-up messages, reminders or alerts. However, it continues to work in the background so your computer is protected.
You don’t need to add your gaming sites to a whitelist because Avast automatically does it for you. Each subsequent visit triggers the gamer mode to enable faster so you can quickly start your games.
Avast does a good job of protecting against malware, earning a near-perfect score in our in-house tests. It also uses DNS technology to make sure you land on legitimate webpages instead of fake ones that are designed to look real to trick you into providing sensitive login credentials. Avast offers webcam monitoring and protection, which are helpful features if you’re an avid gamer and spend a lot of time online interacting with other players. However, these features aren’t standard and costs extra.
More guides for staying safe online:
- Best Anti-virus software
- Best premium security suites
- Best Mac internet security software
- Best internet filter software
How we tested the best internet security software
We are continually testing all kinds of internet security programs, from antivirus solutions to premium security software and their Mac versions. Recently, we tested these program over a five-month period using 352 live malware samples. We attempted to download threats and visit malicious websites using our internet browsers. These tests simulated real-world attacks and showed us how well each program stops threats from infecting your computer in the first place. Each test was performed a minimum of 12 times on multiple computers using the three most common internet browsers: Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome.
More than half of the programs we tested earned a malware protection score of 98 percent or higher. In general, the applications had the most trouble with completely blocking malicious sites. For example, some programs recognized and blocked a webpage with a virus download or phishing scheme on it but still allowed us to access other pages on the site. The best programs blocked the whole site, even the unaffected pages, so there was no chance of accidental infection.
After we gathered our results, we compared them to results from several third-party testing labs, including AV-Comparatives and AV-Test, to calculate average scores for virus protection and loss of computer resources. Our results usually mirrored those of other testing facilities.
What is the difference between antivirus software and an internet security suite?
The biggest difference between basic antivirus software and an internet security suite is the number of extra protection tools included with the program. For example, Kaspersky Anti-Virus doesn’t include a personal firewall or parental controls, but the more expensive Kaspersky Internet Security does.
Typically, internet security programs build on the same engine used in the developer’s antivirus software, so the level of protection doesn’t change with the more expensive internet security program. But this isn’t always the case. During our in-house tests we learned that F-Secure Anti-Virus isn’t as capable at stopping internet threats from downloading and infecting our computers as its internet security solution, F-Secure Internet Security. This is because the basic antivirus program lacks secure browsing features that are included with the other program.
One other difference between basic antivirus software and internet security suites is the number of user licenses you get. Most antivirus solutions come with a single license to protect one computer. Internet security suites, however, usually come with at least three licenses, and are sometimes compatible with mobile phones and tablets so you can protect multiple web-enabled devices at once.
What should internet security software come with?
Because internet security programs are a step up from basic antivirus software, they should include several additional malware protection and privacy tools – typically a personal firewall, a password manager and a system vulnerability scanner. These tools give you added protection against hackers and identity thieves who try to sneak into your system by swiping passwords, piggybacking on your internet connection or exploiting out-of-date software.
We spoke with Mitch Stephens, a security consultant with Emagined Security. He suggests that keeping your system and program patches up to date is a good way to stay secure from online threats. Programs, such as ESET and Avast, use vulnerability detection scans to make sure the most recent software versions are installed on your computer, and if not, they provide you with a legitimate link to where you can download the latest updates. Without these patches, hackers and ransomware can take advantage of these weak points and use them to attack your computer.
Parental controls are also good to have. These tools allow you to limit the time your child is online as well as block inappropriate content. They are also good for blocking cyberbullies and predators. Kaspersky Internet Security includes internet filter categories that make it easy to quickly block harmful content, including vulgarity, profanity and violence.
The best internet security software comes with multiple licenses or a single license that can be used to protect multiple computers or mobile devices at once. Sometimes, the only difference between a top-rated security program and the best premium security suite is the number of licenses you get.
How much does an internet security program cost?
Internet security software costs about $80 for a year subscription and should include a minimum of three user licenses. These programs are a step up from basic antivirus software, which costs less but typically doesn’t include advanced tools like a firewall, safe banking features or a password manager. Premium-grade software typically goes one step further to include all the security tools a developer has to offer. For example, Trend Micro Internet Security doesn’t include a password manager, but Trend Micro Maximum Security does. Because premium security solutions have more tools than internet security software and include additional user licenses, they typically cost $20 more.
Related Product Reviews
- Norton Security Deluxe
- Bitdefender Internet Security 2019
- McAfee Total Protection (LiveSafe)
- Trend Micro Internet Security
- ESET Internet Security
- Kaspersky Internet Security
- Avast Internet Security
- eScan Internet Security
- Panda Dome Advanced
- Webroot Internet Security Plus
- Avira Internet Security
- BullGuard Internet Security
- Comodo Internet Security Pro
- F-Secure Internet Security