Best Premium Security Suites of 2018

Nicole Johnston ·
Internet Security & Appliance Editor
Updated
We maintain strict editorial integrity when we evaluate products and services; however, Top Ten Reviews may earn money when you click on links.

Throughout the year, we research and test the best premium security programs, as well as the best antivirus programs, internet security suites and computer protection software. We compare our results to data gathered by reputable independent test facilities, such as AV-Comparatives and AV-Test, to determine how well each program detects and blocks malware and which ones have the best advanced features. Based on our testing, we believe Bitdefender Total Security 2019 is the best premium protection program because it performs well, can protect all your devices, hides your passwords and personal information online, and monitors your internet connection and computer activity.     

Best Overall
Bitdefender Total Security 2019
Bitdefender Total Security 2019 is our top pick because it is easy to use, excellent at detecting malware, and compatible with multiple devices and platforms. It also includes the best security tools beyond basic antivirus protection.
View on Bitdefender
$44.49@Bitdefender
Best Overall
Bitdefender Total Security 2019
Best Value
Kaspersky Total Security
Kaspersky Total Security has lots of security features, plus it excels at protecting against malware and is reasonably priced. Also, you can use its parental controls to block harmful content and set time limits for your kids.
View on Kaspersky Labs
Best for Multiple Devices
Norton Security Premium
Norton Security Premium is compatible with all devices and platforms. Also, since it comes with a minimum of 10 licenses, you can protect all your computers, smartphones and tablets without purchasing a separate program for each.
View on Norton Security
Product
Price
Overall Rating
Test Results
Scanning & Detection
Privacy & Protection
Standout Feature
Virus Detection & Removal
Loss of Computer Resource
False Positives
Minimum Number of Licenses
Gamer Mode Enabled
Ransomeware Protection
Spam Filters
Antiphishing
USB Autoscans
Email Scanning
Instant Messaging Protection
Social Network Protection
Rescue CD or USB File
Vulnerable Software Detection
Mobile Protection
Firewall
Parental Controls
Webcam Protection
Password Manager
Secure Browsing
Private Browser or VPN
Safe Banking
Online Backup
Weekday Phone Support Hours (Eastern Time)
Weekend Phone Support Available
Live Chat
$44.99 Bitdefender
9.8 9.8 10 9.5
Secure Delete
100%
97%
96%
3
Manual
$
-
24/7
$54.99 Norton
9.4 9.8 9.3 8.8
100% Guarantee
100%
97%
95%
5
Manual
-
-
-
24/7
$94.99 McAfee
9.3 9.8 8 10
Multiple Devices
99%
90%
99%
1
Manual
-
-
-
5am - 11pm
$49.99 Kaspersky
9.1 9.8 8.3 8.8
Parental Controls
100%
93%
99%
3
Manual
-
-
-
5am - 8pm*
$39.95 Trend Micro
9 9.5 8.3 8.8
Web-Reputation Technology
100%
89%
96%
3
-
-
-
-
24/7
$39.95 Amazon
8.6 10 8.3 5.8
Automatic Game Mode
99%
100%
99%
1
Automatic
-
-
$
-
-
-
-
24/7
-
$89.99 F-Secure
8.6 8.8 8.3 8.8
Device Finder
99%
81%
82%
3
-
-
-
-
9am - 6pm
-
$39.98 BullGuard
8.5 9.3 9 5.8
System Vulnerabilities
87%
59%
100%
3
Manual
-
$
-
-
-
-
24/7
$45.95 eScan
8.2 8.8 7.3 8.3
Online Backup
87%
79%
96%
1
-
-
-
$
-
-
-
24/7
Best Overall
Bitdefender Total Security 2019 has all the tools that come with its basic internet security suite including a password manager, parental controls and dedicated social media protection.
You can protect up to five devices, and the software includes online backup storage so you can save important files safely in the cloud. Bitdefender also includes a gamer mode, which allows you to suspend notifications and full scans so they don’t interrupt you while you play games or watch movies online. This premium internet security program is one of the few that monitor applications that try to use your webcam, and it ensures only those you have given permission to have access to it. One of Bitdefender Total Security 2019’s best features is its secure delete – it destroys any malware it catches so there is no chance of it returning to your computer. It uses this same technology with its file shredder feature, which makes sure your deleted personal files and applications are irretrievable after you run them through it. Bitdefender offers 24/7 support, which is something not a lot of other companies provide. This means you can connect with a live person whenever you have a problem. You can contact the company by email, telephone and live chat.
Pros
  • Detects malware on all computer operating systems
  • Includes online backup storage
  • Monitors webcam applications
Cons
  • Causes some slowdown on your computer
  • Some tools not compatible with mobile devices
  • Doesn’t include a VPN
$44.49Bitdefender
Read the full review
Best Value
Kaspersky Total Security isn’t the cheapest program available, but compared to most of the other premium suites that cost around the same price, Kaspersky offers better protection for both PCs and mobile devices and includes more advanced security tools.
It comes with five licenses and can protect mobile phones and tablets, as well as computers. Kaspersky also has some of the best parental controls, and they make it easy to set time controls. In addition, the program comes with a password manager and social media security tools, which ensure your connection is secure when you access your accounts. It can also block malicious links and phishing schemes so you don’t accidentally click through to a dangerous site. This Kaspersky software includes a personal firewall that works alongside the one built in to your operating system. The program scans your computer for any out-of-date software that may create weak points where ransomware and hackers can break into your system, and you can back up all your files to Kaspersky’s cloud storage server. Also, you can use the software’s on-screen keyboard to mask your log in credentials so keyloggers can’t swipe them. We found Kaspersky Total Security to be one of the easiest premium security suites to install and set up. All its tools and functions are clearly marked and easy to locate. Live support is available, both over the telephone and online chat, though the hours are limited to 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. Eastern time.
Pros
  • Best security features for the price
  • On-screen keyboard protects login credentials
  • Secure browsing blocks malicious websites
Cons
  • Webcam protections not included
  • Spam filters not included
  • 24/7 support not offered
$49.99Kaspersky Labs
Read the full review
Best for Multiple Devices
Norton Security Premium comes with 10 licenses and is compatible with Windows, Mac, Android and iOS devices, making it the best choice if you have multiple devices running different platforms.
It provides great protection against malware, including ransomware, plus parental controls, a password manager and safe banking tools, which keep identity thieves from swiping your sensitive information when you bank or shop online. Norton is easy to install and use, no matter which device or operating system you install it on. Independent test labs found that Norton is excellent at detecting and protecting against malware attacks, including new viruses that haven’t been identified yet. It is also one of only two premium security programs that come with a 100-percent protection guarantee. Norton Security Premium includes spam filters and antiphishing tools to help keep malicious messages with dangerous links out of your inbox. The software’s safe browsing feature also alerts you if you try to access a site that is known to harbor malware, including phishing schemes. Norton includes 25GB of protected cloud storage where you can back up your files and applications, just in case your computer is attacked. When you use the cloud storage, you can restore your files and software after an attack, so it’s as though it never happened.
Pros
  • Excellent malware detection on all platforms
  • 25GB of online backup storage
  • Password manager included
Cons
  • No file shredder
  • No webcam monitoring
  • No designated social network protections
$54.99Norton Security
Read the full review
Mobile Protection
McAfee Total Protection is compatible with both Windows computers and Android mobile devices, and it comes with a minimum of 10 user licenses so you can protect your whole family’s computers, laptops, and cellphones.
During our in-house tests, McAfee detected and protected against all malware threats we used, including Trojans, rootkits and ransomware. And when we attempted to visit a dangerous site, McAfee stopped us with an in-browser warning message letting us know exactly why. Even in Microsoft Edge, where most internet security programs can’t detect threats downloading through the browser, McAfee still didn’t have any problem warning us. McAfee Total Protection encrypts and password protects documents on your desktop, so they can’t be swiped, plus comes with a personal firewall, password manager and parental controls. It does tend to cause some slowdown on some devices.
Pros
  • Compatible with mobile devices
Cons
  • Causes some lag on computers
$39.99McAfee
Read the full review
Cloud Protection
Trend Micro Maximum Security comes with cloud protection, a unique tool that monitors files and documents stored online in places like Google Docs or Dropbox, or you can back up your files onto Trend Micro’s server since you get 25GB of storage space with your yearly subscription.
Trend Micro impressed us during our internet security tests by finding and protecting against every threat we confronted, including rootkits, Trojans, viruses and ransomware. And when we performed deep virus scans, Trend Micro was very fast and didn’t cause any slowdown to our computers, but not all test labs had the same experience. Some have reported significant slowdown while testing Trend Micro. This premium security program comes with parental controls and a GPS tracking feature if you decide to download it to any mobile devices.
Pros
  • Includes 25GB of online backup storage
Cons
  • May cause some slowdown
$39.95Trend Micro
Read the full review

Why Trust Us

We have been researching and testing internet security solutions for over 15 years. We test these products in our lab continually throughout the year and stay informed about the test results of independent laboratories so we can compare our findings.

Many of us are parents ourselves, and we treat our research and testing as though we are looking for a solution to keep our own families safe, which we are! We often install these programs on our home computers and devices to get a good understanding of how they work in real-life settings and not just in a controlled test laboratory.

As part of our research, we keep on top of the changes and developments in the internet security industry. We read news reports about cyberattacks and security attacks and attend tradeshows, such as the annual RSA Conference, which connects us with other internet security experts and keeps us abreast of emerging threats and technology.

How We Tested

We install every premium security suite we review on our test computers, as well as on our home computers so we can gather information about how they work in the real world. As part of our testing, we evaluate how well these programs block known malicious websites, keyloggers, cookies and other threats. We rely on third-party laboratories, such as AV-Test and AV-Comparatives, for information about how effectively the programs block malware, since these facilities are set up to test using live malware without infecting an entire network. With both our own findings and those of other testing labs, we determine which programs are the best at protecting computers from malware.

In addition, we check to see if the programs create any noticeable lag or slowdown. To do so, we measure how long it takes to attach files to emails, download programs, navigate the web, watch videos online and play games, both before and after we install any antivirus program on our computer. Independent labs conduct similar tests, and using their findings, as well as our own, we get a clear picture of which programs are a good fit for home computers that are used for specific functions, such as multi-player gaming.

Finally, we try out each security tool to make sure it works as the developer intends. This includes the programs’ password managers, parental controls, file shredders and VPNs. This is important since extra protection features are what set premium security programs apart from basic antivirus and even internet security suites.

How much does premium security software cost?

Because premium internet security suites include the best protection and all the security tools available from the developer, you can expect to pay between $70 and $120 for the software. Very few internet security software come with a single user license with most including between five and 10 licenses. This cost is for a one-year subscription that you will be required to renew to stay protected.

There are several internet security programs that include many of the advanced protection tools you need to secure your computer, or the exact same features as its premium solution, but come with less licenses and costs $20 less. The biggest difference we’ve found between internet security and premium security programs is the inclusion of mobile protection.

What to Look for in a Premium Security Program

The most important consideration when choosing a premium internet security suite is how well it can protect your computer from malware threats. After this, we found that the best premium security suites include features that extend protection beyond basic virus blocking. Here is more in-depth information about what we look for as we review premium internet security suites:

Test Results

Most of the programs we reviewed received perfect or above-average scores in protection tests run in our labs and at AV-Comparatives and AV-Test. This means the antivirus portions of the programs detected and blocked hundreds of known malware threats and more than 10,000 viruses that were new enough that they had not yet been identified and listed in the malware database. The lowest performer in protection tests was McAfee. Its antivirus program was unable to sufficiently stop many threats, earning it the lowest score for protection.

Using millions of websites, applications and files, independent laboratories run usability tests to evaluate how often a security program mistakes legitimate files as malware and blocks access to them. Most of the applications we reviewed scored better than average in this area, and those that dipped a little only had a couple more false positives than the industry standard of three. In addition to the best internet security programs we highlighted above, ESET earned near-perfect protection and usability scores.

Independent laboratories run tests to determine how heavily antivirus programs tax computer resources while they run, and we perform similar tests in our own lab. Premium internet security suites cause more lag than basic antivirus products, but these tests are a good way to compare solutions across the board. eScan used the most resources and caused the most slowdown on the Windows 10 test computer we used to evaluate performance. However, in both cases, the most lag tended to occur while copying files. The test computer ran fine while accessing popular websites and launching and installing software.

Detection & Removal
In a product category where every program provides antimalware and antiphishing features, email protection, safe browsing, and antispam and antispyware protection, additional features are what set each one apart.

One important feature we looked for is ransomware blocking. This new malware threat is unique in that it holds your computer hostage, so you are unable to access anything on it until you pay a fee to the attacker. Often, the creator takes your money and leaves your computer locked and very difficult to fix. When we first started evaluating premium software for ransomware protection, we were surprised that not many programs recognized these threats. However, over the last year, developers have adapted their products to address this growing problem.

Another important feature we looked for is a firewall. While your Windows operating system comes with a firewall, research has shown it isn't very effective at protecting your system. A third-party firewall, such as the one included with BullGuard Premium Protection, seals any holes in your operating system’s firewall and adds another layer of protection, making it more difficult for malware to break into your computer.

A less common but important feature found in the best premium security suites is a virtual keyboard. Using this feature, you can enter your passwords into online fields for email, bank and credit card account access without using your actual computer keyboard. This makes it more difficult for internet hackers to swipe your passwords with keyloggers, which can provide them access to financial, email and other sensitive information they can use to steal your identity. F-Secure is one of the four products we compared that includes a virtual keyboard.

Some companies offer the same features in their basic and premium internet suites, and the biggest difference between the two programs is the number of licenses included. Both Kaspersky's and Trend Micro's basic internet security programs come with three licenses, while their premium suites come with five. However, no matter which version of McAfee you purchase, you can install it on an unlimited number of devices, including cell phones and tablets, for the length of your subscription.

Parental controls are another important inclusion. These tools allow you to monitor your children's online activity. You can also block their access to specific types of content or websites, which is a good way to protect your children from inappropriate content and keep them from accessing legitimate-looking websites that have malware embedded in their links. Parental controls, such as those in Kaspersky, also allow you to place time constraints on your kids’ internet access, so they can only access the web during certain time frames and for set lengths of time.

Help & Support
Because your computer is always vulnerable to threats, it is important to look for a premium security suite that offers extended support hours so you can connect with personnel whenever you experience a problem. Most of the services we reviewed have 24/7 access and even live chat support, so you can connect with a representative for immediate assistance, rather than wait for an email response to come.