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The 7 Best Anti-Spyware Software (2024 Update)

Updated: January 2024

By: Tibor Moes is the founder of SoftwareLab. He has tested 28 antivirus brands and studied Cybersecurity at Stanford. Read how we test antivirus.

Norton is the best anti-spyware software of 2024

Norton 360

Ranked #1 of 28 brands

  • Spyware Protection 100% 100%
  • Security Features 100% 100%

Norton has the best anti-spyware protection, excellent security features, and a great price. It’s the best anti-spyware of 2024.

  • Spyware protection: 100%. Norton stopped all 1,200 malware & spyware attacks in our test.
  • Security features: 100%. Anti-phishing, firewall, VPN, password manager, and more.
  • Speed impact: 100%. Norton did not slow down our test PC. 

Try it risk-free, thanks to its 60-day return policy.

Avast is the second best anti-spyware software of 2024

Avast One

Ranked #2 of 28 brands

  • Spyware Protection 100% 100%
  • Security Features 80% 80%

Avast offers excellent protection, many bonus features, and a beautiful design. However, it lacks a password manager.

  • Spyware protection: 100%. Avast stopped all 1,200 malware & spyware attacks in our test.
  • Security features: 80%. Avast does not include a password manager.
  • Speed impact: 100%. Avast did not slow down our test PC. 

Try it risk-free, thanks to its 30-day return policy.

The best anti-spyware software

In 2024, we tested 39 anti-spyware programs from 28 brands. We infected our test PC with a broad range of malware attacks, including famous spyware like Havex and Fireball, to test the anti-spyware protection.

We also performed a detailed analysis of the firewalls, VPNs, password managers, anti-phishing web protection, and other security features.

These are the best anti-spyware software of 2024:

  1. 🥇 Norton 360 – The #1 in 2024
  2. Avast One
  3. TotalAV
  4. Bitdefender
  5. McAfee
  6. Panda
  7. Avira

Scroll down for the reviews.

Norton Antivirus Review

Norton Review

Ranked #1 out of 28 brands

Norton Antivirus 2024

Norton is ranked #1 of 28 brands.

Norton is the best anti-spyware of 2024. It has perfect anti-spyware protection, no impact on the speed of your PC, all the security features you need, and an excellent price.

Buy it if you want complete protection. You will get excellent anti-malware, anti-phishing, a firewall, a password manager, and an unlimited VPN, which will protect your privacy online.

  • Spyware protection: 100%. Norton detected and removed each of the 1,200 malware and spyware samples in our test.
  • Speed impact: 100%. Norton’s anti-malware engine is lightweight and did not slow down our test PC.
  • Features: 100%. Norton includes anti-malware, anti-phishing, firewall, VPN, password manager, and more.
  • Price: 100%. Compared to similar products at Bitdefender and McAfee, Norton offers more value for money.

Discount: Temporarily save up to 70% 🔥

Detailed Review

Norton 360 Anti-Spyware Review 2024

In our recent exploration into the world of digital security, we’ve shifted our focus from antivirus to anti-spyware solutions. Norton 360 has stood out as a robust and versatile tool in this area, demonstrating exceptional prowess in protecting against various spyware threats.

Anti-Spyware Capabilities

Norton 360 excels in detecting and neutralizing spyware. We’ve noticed that its SONAR technology, initially designed for malware protection, is equally effective against spyware. It employs heuristic analysis and machine learning to identify suspicious behavior, a crucial feature since spyware often manifests differently from traditional malware.

Our testing, which involved averaging the last 10 scores from AV-Test and running our own scenarios, showed Norton’s competence in real-time spyware detection and prevention.

Firewall Protection

The Smart Firewall in Norton 360 is another key feature in its anti-spyware arsenal. Unlike standard firewalls that only monitor incoming connections, Norton’s firewall scrutinizes both inbound and outbound traffic.

This dual focus is vital in detecting spyware trying to transmit data from your device. Additionally, Norton cloaks inactive ports, a method effective in preventing spyware from exploiting port vulnerabilities.

VPN Service

The included unlimited VPN service in Norton 360 enhances its anti-spyware capabilities. It ensures secure and private browsing, which is crucial in preventing spyware infections that often occur through compromised networks. The VPN’s features like AES-256 encryption, no logs policy, and ad tracker blocking add extra layers of protection.

Password Manager

We were impressed with Norton’s password manager for its ease of use and security features. Strong, unique passwords are critical in preventing spyware attacks, especially those targeting credential theft. The biometric access options add another layer of security, making it harder for spyware to capture your credentials.

Prices & Packages

  • Norton Antivirus Plus costs € 15 (Europe) or $ 20 (USA). It offers antivirus, a firewall, and a password manager. It protects 1 PC or Mac.
  • Norton 360 Standard costs € 30 (Europe) or $ 40 (USA). It adds a VPN and dark web monitoring. It protects 1 (Europe) or 3 (USA) devices.
  • Norton 360 Deluxe costs € 35 (Europe) or $ 50 (USA). It adds a privacy monitor and parental controls. It protects 5 devices.
  • Norton 360 for Gamers costs € 35 (Europe) or $ 45 (USA). It adds a gamer optimizer. It protects 5 devices.
  • Norton 360 Advanced costs € 40 in Europe and is not sold in the USA. It adds identity theft protection and protects 10 devices.
  • Norton 360 Select + LifeLock costs $ 99 in the USA and is not sold in Europe. It adds LifeLock identity theft protection and protects 10 devices.

Bonus Features

  • Web Protection: Blocks spyware-hosting websites.
  • Cloud Backup: Essential for recovering data if spyware compromises your system.
  • Parental Controls: Protects against spyware targeting children’s online activities.
  • Webcam Protection: Prevents spyware from accessing your webcam.

Is Norton the Best Anti-Spyware Software of 2024?

Based on our comprehensive testing and analysis, we believe Norton 360 is among the top anti-spyware solutions available. It goes beyond basic spyware detection, offering a suite of tools that protect against various digital threats.

Its combination of real-time protection, enhanced firewall, VPN service, and additional security features makes it a solid choice for anyone seeking comprehensive spyware protection.

You can try Norton 360 risk-free, as it offers a 60-day return policy, making it an attractive option for those looking to bolster their digital defenses against spyware.

Avast Antivirus Review

Avast Review

Ranked #2 out of 28 brands

Avast Antivirus 2024

Avast is ranked #2 of 28 brands.

Avast is one of the best anti-spyware of 2024. It has perfect anti-spyware protection, no impact on the speed of your PC, many security features, and one of the best designs we’ve seen.

Buy it if you want excellent protection and superb design. You will get anti-malware, anti-phishing, a firewall, and a VPN. However, Avast does not include a password manager.

  • Spyware protection: 100%. Avast detected and removed all of the 1,200 malware and spyware samples in our test.
  • Speed impact: 100%. Avast’s anti-malware engine is lightweight and did not slow down our test PC.
  • Features: 80%. Avast one includes anti-malware, anti-phishing, firewall, VPN, and more. But no password manager.
  • Price: 100%. Considering Avast’s excellent security features and design, its price is more than fair.

Discount: Save up to 50%

Detailed Review

Avast Anti-Spyware Review 2024

In our recent shift towards examining anti-spyware solutions, we conducted an in-depth review of Avast One, evaluating its effectiveness in safeguarding against spyware threats.

Avast One, known for its robust antivirus capabilities, also offers significant protection against spyware, making it a noteworthy contender in this space.

Anti-Spyware Performance

When testing Avast One, we found its anti-spyware detection capabilities to be highly efficient. Our analysis involved scanning over 1,200 different spyware samples, and Avast successfully identified and neutralized each one. The full scans, averaging around 54 minutes, were thorough yet efficient.

The real-time protection was particularly impressive, effectively stopping encrypted spyware downloads. However, we noted that the free version frequently prompts for upgrades, which some users might find intrusive.

Firewall Capabilities

Avast’s firewall is another critical component in its anti-spyware arsenal. It allows for detailed monitoring of network traffic and provides the option to manually block suspicious applications. While effective, it doesn’t quite match the user-friendliness and advanced automation of some competitors.

A notable feature missing for Windows users is the Wi-Fi Inspector tool, essential for identifying and protecting against spyware on vulnerable devices.

VPN Service

Our experience with Avast’s VPN (included in Avast One Essential) was satisfactory for a free service, offering a reasonable 5GB data limit per week.

However, in comparison to other paid solutions, Avast’s VPN fell short in terms of speed and ability to unblock certain content, an aspect to consider if VPN performance is a priority in your anti-spyware strategy.

Utility Tools

Avast includes several utility tools, enhancing its anti-spyware capabilities. These tools, such as browser data clearing, software updating, and ransomware shielding, contribute to an overall secure digital environment.

Email security, in particular, is crucial in preventing spyware that often infiltrates through phishing attempts. However, it’s important to note that some of these features, like tracking prevention, are reserved for premium users.

Is Avast the Best Anti-Spyware Software of 2024?

Avast One emerges as a comprehensive security solution with strong anti-spyware features. While it lacks certain functionalities like a password manager (an important tool in preventing spyware attacks), it remains a solid choice for those seeking reliable multi-platform spyware protection.

If you require additional features such as a password manager or parental controls, alternatives like Norton 360 Deluxe might be more suitable.

Avast’s 30-day return policy offers a no-risk opportunity to evaluate its anti-spyware capabilities, making it an attractive option for users seeking robust protection against spyware threats.

For more details, read the full Avast review.

TotalAV Antivirus Review

TotalAV Review

Ranked #3 out of 28 brands

TotalAV Antivirus 2024

TotalAV is ranked #3 of 28 brands.

TotalAV is one of the best anti-spyware of 2024. It has near-perfect anti-spyware test scores, an intuitive design, no impact on the speed of your PC, and lots of security features.

Buy it if you want an easy-to-use anti-spyware at a great price. You will get anti-malware, anti-phishing, a password manager, and a VPN, which will protect your privacy online. But no firewall.

  • Spyware protection: 99.8%. TotalAV detected and removed nearly all of the 1,200 malware and spyware samples in our test.
  • Speed impact: 100%. TotalAV’s anti-malware engine is lightweight and did not slow down our test PC.
  • Features: 90%. TotalAV includes anti-malware, anti-phishing, VPN, and a password manager. But it doesn’t have a firewall.
  • Price: 90%. TotalAV offers generous discounts in the first year, but high renewal prices in the second year.

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Detailed Review

TotalAV Anti-Spyware Review 2024

As we focus more on anti-spyware solutions, our team took a closer look at TotalAV, a product known for its affordability and ease of use. Our goal was to evaluate its effectiveness specifically against spyware, a growing concern in today’s digital landscape.

Anti-Spyware Capabilities

TotalAV’s performance in detecting and neutralizing spyware is commendable. Utilizing Avira’s engine, it offers various scan options, including Quick, System, Smart, and Custom scans. In our testing, the System Scan, which took about an hour, was efficient and had minimal impact on system performance.

Notably, TotalAV caught 99.8% of various spyware samples, demonstrating its robust detection capabilities. Its real-time protection feature was especially effective in halting malicious spyware downloads immediately.

VPN Functionality

The Safe Browsing VPN included in TotalAV is a significant addition to its anti-spyware toolkit. With 48 server locations and respectable speeds, it enhances online privacy, a crucial aspect in preventing spyware infections.

While it may not match standalone VPNs in speed, its features like a kill switch and auto-connect on public networks provide an added layer of security against spyware threats.

Password Manager

Our evaluation of Total Password, TotalAV’s password manager, revealed it to be both reliable and secure. The 256-bit AES encryption is a strong defense against spyware attacks that target personal credentials.

While it may lack some advanced features like hardware-based two-factor authentication (2FA), it effectively covers all the basic requirements with auto-save, auto-fill, and a user-friendly interface.

Additional Features

TotalAV also includes additional features that contribute to its anti-spyware capabilities:

  • Identity Theft Protection by Aura: Enhances security against spyware that may lead to identity theft.
  • System Tune-up Suite: Includes tools like a Startup Manager and Junk Cleaner, which help maintain a healthy system less susceptible to spyware.

Is TotalAV the Best Anti-Spyware Software of 2024?

In our analysis, TotalAV stands out as a strong, affordable choice for anti-spyware protection. It offers a well-rounded package with effective anti-spyware capabilities, a solid VPN, and a functional password manager.

Its ease of use and 30-day refund policy make it an appealing option for users seeking comprehensive and hassle-free spyware protection.

For more details, read the full TotalAV review.

Bitdefender Antivirus Review

Bitdefender Review

Ranked #4 out of 28 brands

Bitdefender Antivirus 2024

Bitdefender is ranked #4 of 28 brands.

Bitdefender is an excellent anti-spyware program in 2024. It has perfect anti-spyware protection, no impact on the speed of your PC, many security features, and an excellent price.

Buy it if you want outstanding protection. But keep in mind that you will get anti-malware, anti-phishing, a firewall, and a few bonus features. Not the password manager or unlimited VPN.

  • Spyware protection: 100%. Bitdefender detected and removed each of the 1,200 malware and spyware samples in our test.
  • Speed impact: 100%. Bitdefender’s anti-malware engine is lightweight and did not slow down our test PC.
  • Features: 80%. Bitdefender has anti-malware, anti-phishing, and a firewall, but it misses a password manager and a VPN.
  • Price: 100%. Although Bitdefender misses a few features, it has an excellent price, which gives it good value for money.

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Detailed Review

Bitdefender Anti-Spyware Review 2024

In our updated analysis at SoftwareLab, we’ve shifted our focus from general antivirus capabilities to specifically evaluating anti-spyware solutions.

Bitdefender, renowned for its comprehensive security features, was put to the test to gauge its effectiveness against spyware threats.

Anti-Spyware Performance

Bitdefender’s antivirus engine boasts a 100% malware protection score, which extends impressively to its anti-spyware capabilities. Our tests confirmed that Bitdefender effectively detected and removed all spyware samples.

The Advanced Threat Defense feature, crucial for real-time protection, continuously monitors application behavior, efficiently blocking spyware upon detecting anomalies such as code injection. This approach ensures excellent detection rates with a low false positive rate.

Firewall Protection

The firewall component in Bitdefender is robust, capable of blocking both inbound and outbound connections. This is especially important in preventing spyware from communicating with external servers.

Additionally, Bitdefender’s ability to detect and block port scans is a key feature, as it protects against common methods used by spyware to infiltrate systems.

VPN Service

Bitdefender’s VPN, although limited to 200 MB/day in the free version, proved to be a strong bundled offering.

The paid version offers unlimited data, and the VPN’s performance, including speed and security (AES-256 & HydraVPN), enhances online privacy, a vital component in preventing spyware attacks. Features like auto-connect and a kill switch further bolster its anti-spyware credentials.

Password Manager

The password manager is a separate purchase with Bitdefender, which might be a downside for those seeking an all-in-one solution. Nevertheless, it’s an essential tool in combating spyware, particularly those targeting personal information.

Prices & Packages

  • Bitdefender Antivirus Plus starts at € 15 (Europe) or $ 15 (USA). It offers antivirus and anti-phishing. It protects 1 to 10 PCs.
  • Bitdefender Internet Security starts at € 19 (Europe) or $ 25 (USA). It adds a firewall and parental controls. It protects 1 to 10 PCs.
  • Bitdefender Total Security starts at € 35 (Europe) or $ 40 (USA). It adds an optimizer and support for other OS. It protects 5 to 10 devices.
  • Bitdefender Premium Security starts at € 55 (Europe) or $ 60 (USA). It adds an unlimited VPN and password manager. It protects 10 devices.

Additional Features

Bitdefender comes packed with numerous extra features that complement its anti-spyware capabilities:

  • Online Threat Prevention: Protects against spyware-laden websites.
  • Ransomware Remediation: Vital for recovering from spyware attacks that encrypt files.
  • Safepay: A secure environment for online transactions, safeguarding against spyware designed to steal financial data.
  • Video and Audio Protection: Prevents spyware from accessing webcams and microphones.
  • Anti-Tracker: Removes tracking cookies, reducing the risk of spyware tracking your online activities.

Is Bitdefender the Best Anti-Spyware Software of 2024?

Bitdefender emerges as a top contender in our evaluation of anti-spyware solutions for 2024. Its comprehensive approach, combining advanced anti-spyware protection, a capable VPN, and additional security features, makes it a strong choice for those seeking thorough spyware defense.

However, the separate cost for its password manager and unlimited VPN could be a consideration for users seeking a more integrated, cost-effective solution.

Users can try Bitdefender risk-free with its 30-day return policy, allowing for a thorough assessment of its anti-spyware capabilities.

McAfee Antivirus Review

McAfee Review

Ranked #5 out of 28 brands

McAfee Antivirus 2024

McAfee is ranked #5 of 28 brands.

McAfee is an excellent anti-spyware program in 2024. It has perfect anti-spyware protection, no impact on the speed of your PC, an intuitive design, and all the security features you need.

Buy it if you want complete protection. You will get anti-malware, anti-phishing, a firewall, a password manager, a VPN, and, depending on where you live, identity theft protection.

  • Spyware protection: 100%. Mcafee detected and removed each of the 1,200 malware and spyware samples in our test.
  • Speed impact: 100%. McAfee’s anti-malware engine is lightweight and did not slow down our test PC.
  • Features: 100%. McAfee includes anti-malware, anti-phishing, firewall, VPN, password manager, and more.
  • Price: 90%. McAfee is slightly more expensive than Norton, but allows you to protect an unlimited number of devices (in the US).

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Detailed Review

McAfee Anti-Spyware Review 2024

In our updated review at SoftwareLab, we’ve shifted our emphasis to assess anti-spyware capabilities. McAfee, a well-known name in cybersecurity, has recently garnered attention for its enhanced tools and performance in this area.

Anti-Spyware Capabilities

McAfee stands out with a 100% anti-malware test score, which is particularly impressive in the realm of spyware detection. Our tests confirmed McAfee’s ability to detect and neutralize both offline and online spyware threats effectively.

The software employs a multifaceted approach, including antivirus scans, sandboxing for safe execution of suspicious code, heuristic techniques for new threats, and cleaning of corrupted files. This comprehensive strategy is crucial for identifying and mitigating various spyware forms.

Firewall Protection

The firewall in McAfee is robust, effectively filtering both inbound and outbound traffic. This is crucial for spyware defense, as it helps prevent spyware from sending data out of the device. Additionally, McAfee’s technique of hiding open ports thwarts spyware attacks that exploit these vulnerabilities.

VPN Service

McAfee’s VPN, Safe Connect, enhances its anti-spyware capabilities by offering unlimited data, strong encryption (AES-256), and privacy (no activity logs).

While some features like the kill switch and split tunneling may not be available on all platforms, the VPN’s overall performance, including its effectiveness with streaming services and support for torrenting, contributes to a more secure browsing experience, reducing the risk of spyware infiltration.

Password Manager

True Key, McAfee’s cross-platform password manager, stands out in its category. Its user-friendly interface, accurate auto-fill capabilities, and biometric login options add a layer of security against spyware, particularly those targeting personal credentials.

Pricing and Packages

McAfee offers a range of packages, with the higher-tier ones providing additional features like personal data cleanup and identity theft protection, which are particularly relevant in the context of spyware defense.

Additional Features

McAfee comes with a variety of bonus features that enhance its anti-spyware functionality:

  • Secure Apps: Keeps software up-to-date, preventing spyware exploitation.
  • Browser Security: Offers anti-phishing protection.
  • Tracker Remover: Deletes tracking cookies, a common spyware tactic.
  • File Shredder: Securely deletes files, preventing spyware from retrieving them.
  • Safe Family: Parental controls to protect against spyware targeting children’s online activities.

Is McAfee the Best Anti-Spyware Software of 2024?

McAfee emerges as a strong contender in the anti-spyware software arena for 2024. Its comprehensive approach, combining effective spyware detection, a robust firewall, a feature-rich VPN, and a top-tier password manager, positions it as a leading choice for users seeking all-around digital protection.

Its user-friendly design and extensive privacy and identity protection features, particularly in the U.S., add to its appeal.

Users can evaluate McAfee’s anti-spyware effectiveness risk-free with its 30-day return policy.

For more details, read the full McAfee review.

Panda Antivirus Review

Panda Review

Ranked #6 out of 28 brands

Panda Antivirus 2024

Panda is ranked #6 of 28 brands.

Panda is an excellent anti-spyware program in 2024. It has near-perfect anti-spyware protection, no impact on the speed of your PC, all the security features you need, and flexible pricing.

Buy it if you want great protection and customization options. You will get anti-malware, anti-phishing, a firewall, a password manager, and an unlimited VPN, which will protect your privacy online.

  • Spyware protection: 99%. Panda detected and removed nearly all of the 1,200 malware and spyware samples in our test.
  • Speed impact: 100%. Panda’s anti-malware engine is lightweight and did not slow down our test PC.
  • Features: 100%. Panda Dome includes anti-malware, anti-phishing, firewall, VPN, password manager, and more.
  • Price: 80%. Compared to similar products at Norton, Panda Dome is expensive. However, its flexible pricing is excellent.

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Detailed Review

Panda Dome Anti-Spyware Review 2024

Our focus at SoftwareLab has shifted towards anti-spyware solutions, leading us to conduct an in-depth review of Panda Dome. Known for its flexible pricing, we evaluated its capabilities specifically in countering spyware threats.

Anti-Spyware Performance

Panda Dome’s antivirus engine achieved a 99.9% score in real-world protection tests, a testament to its effectiveness in detecting spyware. However, it’s important to note that Panda exhibited a higher number of false positives compared to its competitors. This over-sensitivity, while ensuring thorough scanning, might lead to harmless software being mistakenly flagged as spyware.

Panda’s approach to spyware detection involves combining big data, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. This methodology is particularly effective against advanced threats like zero-day spyware, ransomware, and suspicious API behaviors.

Firewall Features

The firewall in Panda Dome effectively filters both inbound and outbound connections, which is crucial in blocking spyware communication channels. The software automatically assigns permissions based on each application’s risk level, though users can customize these settings.

VPN Service

Panda includes a VPN with its antivirus products, but it is limited to 150 MB/day, which is relatively low for heavy usage. Despite using Aura’s reliable technology, the lack of additional features like a kill switch makes its higher-tiered plans less competitive compared to offerings with more comprehensive VPN services.

Password Manager

Panda’s password manager is a standout feature. It provides easy generation and storage of passwords, accurate auto-filling, and supports both two-factor authentication and biometric logins. The uniform design across browser extensions and mobile apps enhances the user experience across different platforms.

Pricing and Packages

Panda Dome offers a range of packages, with the higher-tier ones including additional features like an unlimited VPN and system optimization tools. All plans can be upgraded to cover an unlimited number of devices, offering flexibility for different user needs.

Additional Features

Panda Dome also includes several bonus features that aid in its anti-spyware capabilities:

  • Safe Browsing: Blocks spyware-laden URLs and phishing sites.
  • Wi-Fi Protection: Secures your Wi-Fi network against spyware intrusions.
  • File Encryptor and Shredder: Essential for safeguarding sensitive data from spyware.

Is Panda the Best Anti-Spyware Software of 2024?

Panda Dome emerges as a strong option in our assessment of anti-spyware solutions for 2024, particularly for those who prioritize flexible pricing and an excellent password manager. However, its VPN limitations and the higher false positive rate in spyware detection are factors to consider.

While it provides effective protection for Windows PCs, users with a variety of devices might find solutions like Norton more comprehensive.

Panda Dome’s 30-day money-back guarantee offers a risk-free opportunity to test its anti-spyware capabilities, making it a viable option for those seeking robust internet security suites for Windows.

For more details, read the full Panda review.

Avira Antivirus Review

Avira Review

Ranked #7 out of 28 brands

Avira Antivirus 2024

Avira is ranked #7 of 28 brands.

Avira is an excellent anti-spyware program in 2024. It has perfect anti-spyware protection, no impact on the speed of your PC, all the security features you need, and a great design.

Buy it if you want excellent protection and intuitive design. You will get anti-malware, anti-phishing, a password manager, and a VPN. On top of that, Avira finally includes an excellent firewall.

  • Spyware protection: 100%. Avira detected and removed all of the 1,200 malware and spyware samples in our test.
  • Speed impact: 100%. Avira’s anti-malware engine is lightweight and did not slow down our test PC.
  • Features: 100%. Avira includes anti-malware, anti-phishing, firewall, VPN, password manager, and more.
  • Price: 90%. Avira has a great price. But with Norton, you’ll get a few more features for the same amount of money.

Discount: Save up to 70%

Detailed Review

Avira Anti-Spyware Review: Updated for 2024

In our latest focus on anti-spyware solutions at SoftwareLab, we have thoroughly tested Avira to evaluate its effectiveness in this specific domain. Known for its high performance in general virus protection, we aimed to see how well it fares against spyware threats.

Anti-Spyware Capabilities

Avira’s anti-malware tools, which we found to be impressive in our tests, are equally adept at detecting and neutralizing spyware. Its cloud-based scanner efficiently identifies spyware without impacting system performance.

The Smart Scan feature is particularly noteworthy, as it extends beyond basic malware detection to flag privacy risks and system vulnerabilities, making it a comprehensive tool for both casual and advanced users.

Firewall Features

The customizable nature of Avira’s firewall adds to its anti-spyware strength. It uses algorithmic rules to monitor data flow and allows personalized settings for each application.

The intruder prevention system, designed to block unauthorized data extraction, is a vital component in defending against spyware that attempts to steal sensitive information.

VPN Service

Avira’s Phantom VPN performed well in our tests, showing only a modest reduction in speed. While it supports P2P file sharing and offers solid security with 256-bit AES encryption, it had difficulties in bypassing geo-restrictions on streaming services.

Despite this, the VPN adds an important layer of security for online activities, helping to reduce the risk of spyware intrusion.

Password Manager

The password manager included with Avira is feature-rich, offering unlimited storage even in the free version and using 256-bit AES encryption for secure password management.

The lack of a password generator in the browser extension is a minor drawback, but overall, it’s an effective tool against spyware that targets login credentials.

Additional Features

Avira also includes several bonus features that contribute to overall system health and security:

  • Device Optimizer: Frees up space and improves system performance.
  • Startup Optimizer and Driver Updater: Ensures smoother and safer system operation.
  • Game Booster: Enhances gaming performance, which can be indirectly beneficial in maintaining a spyware-free system.

Is Avira the Best Anti-Spyware Software of 2024?

Avira Antivirus Prime emerges as a strong option in our anti-spyware solution evaluations for 2024. It offers robust security features, a comprehensive scanning system, and a range of additional tools that enhance overall digital safety.

While Norton 360 Deluxe presents a similar offering with extra features like parental controls, Avira stands out for its cloud-based efficiency and user-friendly design.

Avira’s 30-day return policy provides a no-risk opportunity to assess its anti-spyware capabilities. For an in-depth look, we recommend reading the full Avira review.

For more details, read the full Avira review.

Specification comparison

Below, we compare the following products:

  • Norton 360 Standard
  • Bitdefender Internet Security with the Premium VPN
  • TotalAV Total Security
  • McAfee Plus
  • Panda Dome Premium
  • Avira Prime
  • Avast One

Our focus was on cost-effective plans that offer protection for at least one PC with these key features:

  • Anti-Malware and Anti-Spyware
  • Anti-Phishing (Web Protection)
  • Firewall
  • Password Manager
  • Unlimited VPN (no data limit)

Compare them in the table below.

Norton
Avast
TotalAV
Bitdefender
McAfee
Panda
Avira
Icon
Norton
Panda
McAfee
Bitdefender
McAfee
Panda
Panda
Rank
#1 of 20
#2 of 20
#3 of 20
#4 of 20
#5 of 20
#6 of 20
#7 of 20
AV-Test anti-malware score
6.00 / 6.00
6.00 / 6.00
5.15 / 6.00
5.95 / 6.00
6.00 / 6.00
Unknown
5.95 / 6.00
AV-Test speed impact score
5.85 / 6.00
5.90 / 6.00
5.90 / 6.00
6.00 / 6.00
5.90 / 6.00
Unknown
5.95 / 6.00
1st year price
$ 39.99 / year
$ 29.99 / year
$ 49.00 / year
$ 81.98 / year
$ 39.99 / year
$ 66.99 / year
$ 29.99 / year
2nd year price
$ 94.99 / year
$ 99.99 / year
$ 179.00 / year
$ 139.98 / year
$ 84.99 / year
$ 133.99 / year
$ 104.99 / year
Operating software
Windows, Mac, Android, iOS
Windows, Mac, Android, iOS
Windows, Mac, Android, iOS
Windows
Windows, Mac, Android, iOS
Windows, Mac, Android, iOS
Windows, Mac, Android, iOS
Devices
3
10
1
1
5
1
5
Money back
60 days
30 days
30 days
30 days
30 days
30 days
30 days
Anti-malware







Anti-phishing







Firewall


-




Password manager

-

-



Unlimited VPN







Test score comparison

We not only relied on our in-house tests but also evaluated data from AV-Test, a German lab known for stringent anti-spyware testing. Their scores are based on three factors:

  • Protection (1-6): How well the software blocks malware.
  • Performance (1-6): How much the software slows down your computer.
  • Usability (1-6): How often the software makes errors like false alarms.

To offer a unified measure, we calculated a final score using the formula: 60% Protection + 20% Performance + 20% Usability.

If a brand doesn’t appear in the AV-Test analysis, like Panda, ESET, and Sophos, that’s generally a red flag.

Source: AV-Test.

Final Score
Protection
Performance
Usability
6.00
6.00
6.00
6.00
6.00
6.00
6.00
6.00
5.98
6.00
5.90
6.00
5.98
6.00
5.90
6.00
5.97
6.00
5.85
6.00
5.96
5.95
5.95
6.00
5.94
5.95
6.00
5.85
5.93
5.95
5.95
5.85
5.91
5.95
5.75
5.95
5.87
5.83
5.83
6.00
5.81
5.85
5.55
5.95
5.77
5.70
5.95
5.80
5.60
6.00
6.00
4.00
5.47
5.15
5.90
6.00

Price comparison

Price matters. So, we compared the second-year prices in the U.S. for each software, rounding up for simplicity (e.g., $99.99 becomes $100). Note that some brands lack key features, affecting their overall value.

To make it a fair comparison, we looked at what it would cost us, to protect a  single Windows PC with the most essential features:

  • Anti-malware
  • Anti-phishing (web protection)
  • Firewall
  • Password manager
  • Unlimited VPN (no data limit).

Prices vary outside the U.S., so check the brands’ websites for your local pricing.

Total price
Missing features
$ 50
No firewall, password manager, and VPN
$ 80
No firewall and password manager
$ 90
No firewall
$ 130
No password manager
$ 180
No firewall

User reviews

TrustPilot scores offer another perspective. But caution is advised. Some brands, like TotalAV, are notorious for aggressive marketing that can inflate their scores. We found scores between 4.0 and 4.5 to be realistic and trustworthy. Anything higher is suspect, and lower scores (like McAfee’s) raise alarms about product or service quality.

Source: TrustPilot.

Review score
Review count
4.8
5900
4.7
97000
4.4
1600
4.3
14500
4.3
4000
4.2
8300
4.1
13200
4.1
900
3.9
12000
3.9
26600
3.8
19000
3.7
7600
1.2
2000

Buying Guide

Common questions about anti-spyware software

What is anti-spyware software and why do I need it?

Anti-spyware software is a type of security program designed to prevent and detect unwanted spyware installations and to remove those programs if they are installed. Spyware is a form of malware that covertly collects your personal information and internet usage data without your knowledge. This includes sensitive data like passwords, credit card information, and browsing habits.

You need anti-spyware software because spyware operates silently in the background. It can lead to identity theft, reduced computer performance, and unwanted exposure of your private data. Anti-spyware tools are essential for maintaining personal privacy and security in the digital world.

How does anti-spyware software protect my computer?

Anti-spyware software protects your computer through several mechanisms:

  • Real-time Protection: It monitors your computer in real-time to block spyware before it can install.
  • Scanning: It scans your computer’s files and directories for known spyware signatures.
  • Quarantine: Suspicious files are isolated to prevent further spread or damage.
  • Removal: It removes identified spyware from your system.
  • Immunization: Some programs block known spyware sites to prevent infection.

 

Will anti-spyware software slow down my computer?

Modern anti-spyware software is designed to be efficient and should not significantly slow down a computer. However, factors like your computer’s processing power, memory, and the specific anti-spyware software’s resource requirements can impact performance. Lightweight anti-spyware solutions are available for older or less powerful computers.

Can anti-spyware remove existing spyware from my PC?

Yes, one of the primary functions of anti-spyware software is to remove existing spyware from your PC. It does this by scanning your system for known spyware signatures and behaviors, identifying any malicious programs, and then either automatically removing them or prompting you to do so. This process is effective at eliminating most spyware threats.

Can anti-spyware software protect my mobile devices as well?

Yes, many anti-spyware software providers offer solutions for mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. These mobile versions are tailored to the specific operating system (like iOS or Android) and provide similar protection as their desktop counterparts, including real-time monitoring, scanning, and removal of spyware.

What should I do if my anti-spyware detects spyware?

If your anti-spyware software detects spyware:

  • Follow Instructions: Adhere to the software’s recommendations to quarantine or delete the spyware.
  • Complete System Scan: Conduct a comprehensive scan of your entire system to find any other potential threats.
  • Update Security Software: Ensure all your security software, including anti-spyware, is up to date.
  • Change Compromised Credentials: If the spyware might have accessed sensitive information, change your passwords.
  • Stay Alert: After removal, monitor your PC for signs of further infections.
  • Consult Experts: If the infection is severe or you’re unsure, seek professional IT support.

 

What are the most common types of cyber threats today?

The most common types of cyber threats today include:

  • Ransomware: Malware that encrypts a user’s files and demands payment for decryption.
  • Phishing: Fraudulent attempts to obtain sensitive information through deceptive emails or messages.
  • Viruses and Worms: Malicious programs that can replicate themselves and spread to other devices.
  • Trojans: Malware disguised as legitimate software, used to gain access to user systems.
  • Spyware: Software that secretly monitors user activity and gathers information.
  • Adware: Unwanted software that displays advertisements on your device.

 

What is the difference between anti-spyware and anti-malware?

The difference lies in their specialization:

  • Anti-Spyware: Specifically targets spyware, focusing on preventing data theft and privacy invasions.
  • Anti-Malware: Has a broader focus, targeting a wide range of malicious software including viruses, worms, ransomware, and spyware.

 

How do I choose the best anti-spyware for my needs?

To choose the best anti-spyware software, consider the following:

  • Effectiveness: Look for software with a strong track record of detecting and removing spyware.
  • System Compatibility: Ensure it is compatible with your operating system.
  • Ease of Use: Choose software that is user-friendly and easy to navigate.
  • Performance Impact: Consider the software’s impact on your system performance.
  • Features: Look for additional features like real-time protection and automatic updates.
  • Cost vs. Value: Evaluate the cost against the features and protection offered.

 

Is free anti-spyware reliable enough for basic protection?

Free anti-spyware software can be reliable enough for basic protection, especially for casual users. However, they may lack advanced features, such as real-time protection and comprehensive scanning options, which are often found in paid versions. For more robust security needs, a premium solution is usually recommended.

Does anti-spyware software come with customer support?

Most reputable anti-spyware software comes with some level of customer support. The extent and quality of support vary between products. Premium or paid software typically offers more comprehensive support options, such as 24/7 live chat, phone support, and detailed online resources. Free versions may offer limited support, often through online forums or FAQs.

Advanced questions about anti-spyware software

How do we test anti-spyware software?

At SoftwareLab, we are committed to delivering comprehensive and unbiased reviews of anti-spyware software. Our methodology encompasses a range of critical aspects to ensure that our assessments are thorough and relevant to our users’ needs.

1. Anti-malware and anti-spyware protection (30%)

  • As the core function of anti-spyware software, we prioritize anti-malware and anti-spyware protection. We conduct in-house testing with a diverse set of 1200 malware samples, including the latest threats, and simulate real-time attack scenarios to gauge the software’s effectiveness.
  • To reinforce the reliability of our findings, we compare our results with those from AV-Test, a respected independent security institute.

2. Security and privacy features (30%)

  • Web protection: We evaluate the software’s ability to protect against phishing sites and other web-based threats.
  • Firewall: Our tests include intrusion simulations to assess the effectiveness of the software’s firewall.
  • Password manager: We examine the ability of the integrated password manager to generate, store, and auto-fill passwords securely.
  • VPN: We test for VPN speed, encryption quality, server locations, and the ability to conceal IP addresses.
  • Parental controls: We assess the efficacy of filters and restrictions for safe browsing for children.
  • Identity theft protection: Monitoring capabilities and alert responsiveness are tested.
  • Secure cloud storage: We evaluate the software’s cloud storage solutions based on capacity, ease of use, and security.
  • Anti-ransomware: Effectiveness against ransomware attacks is a critical part of our testing.
  • Dark web monitoring: We check how well the software scans for personal information on the dark web.

3. Speed impact (10%)

  • We assess how the anti-spyware software affects system performance during common tasks, such as file copying, program downloads, and installations. Our assessment criteria are aligned with the AV-Test performance tests.

4. False positives (10%)

  • It’s crucial that anti-spyware software distinguishes between safe and harmful applications. We evaluate the frequency of benign software being incorrectly flagged as malware, referring to AV-Test’s usability tests for additional insights.

5. Price (10%)

  • We consider the overall value for money, analyzing the features offered against the long-term costs of the software.

6. Ownership and reputation (10%)

  • The trustworthiness of the software’s provider is integral. We examine the company’s history, its data handling practices, commitment to user privacy, and its response to any incidents of unethical conduct or data breaches.

Our rigorous testing approach ensures that we provide our users with reliable and up-to-date information, helping them make informed decisions about their cybersecurity solutions.

Read more on how we test antivirus software.

How does anti-spyware work?

Anti-spyware software works by employing various methods to detect and remove spyware from a computer system. These methods include:

  • Signature-Based Detection: Scanning files to look for known spyware signatures.
  • Heuristic Analysis: Detecting unknown spyware based on behavior or characteristics similar to known threats.
  • Behavior-Based Detection: Monitoring the behavior of programs to identify suspicious activities.
  • Real-Time Protection: Continuously monitoring and intercepting suspicious activities in real-time.
  • Quarantine and Removal: Isolating and then safely removing identified spyware from the system.

 

What is signature-based detection?

Signature-based detection is a method used by anti-spyware and antivirus software to identify malware. It involves comparing the digital signature of files and programs against a database of known malware signatures. If a match is found, the software flags the file as potentially malicious. This method is highly effective against known threats but can miss new, unknown malware.

What is heuristic analysis?

Heuristic analysis is a technique used to detect new, unknown viruses or spyware by examining code for suspicious properties. Instead of looking for known malware signatures, it analyzes the behavior and characteristics of files. If a file behaves like malware or has similar attributes, it is flagged for further investigation. Heuristic analysis helps in catching malware that signature-based detection might miss.

What is behavior-based detection?

Behavior-based detection in cybersecurity focuses on identifying malicious activities based on how a program behaves, rather than its code signature. This method monitors software behaviors such as unauthorized data transmissions, unusual modification of files, or attempts to hide its presence. If a program acts in a way typical of malware, it is flagged as suspicious.

What is machine learning within cybersecurity?

Machine learning in cybersecurity involves using algorithms to analyze large volumes of data to identify patterns indicative of cyber threats. These algorithms learn from historical cyberattack data, improving their ability to detect and predict future threats. Machine learning enhances the accuracy of threat detection, reduces false positives, and can adapt to evolving cyber threats more effectively than traditional methods.

What is cloud-based anti-spyware?

Cloud-based anti-spyware refers to anti-spyware services that operate over the internet, leveraging cloud computing to provide real-time threat intelligence and protection. This approach allows for rapid updates and scaling of resources, providing up-to-date protection against new threats. Cloud-based solutions often have the advantage of minimal impact on local system resources.

What is sandboxing within cybersecurity?

Sandboxing in cybersecurity is a security technique where potentially suspicious programs are run in an isolated environment (sandbox) separate from the main operating system. This containment allows the program to be executed and analyzed without risking the main system. If the program behaves maliciously, it can be safely studied and removed without harming the user’s computer.

What are false positives within cybersecurity?

False positives in cybersecurity occur when a security software incorrectly identifies a benign file or activity as malicious. This can lead to unnecessary alerts and can disrupt user activities. While some false positives are inevitable, high-quality security solutions strive to minimize them to avoid user inconvenience and ensure that actual threats are not overlooked in the midst of false alarms.

How does anti-spyware handle zero-day threats?

Anti-spyware handles zero-day threats – vulnerabilities that are exploited before the developer has issued a patch – through several advanced techniques:

  • Heuristic Analysis: Detecting unusual behavior or characteristics that might indicate a new type of spyware.
  • Behavior-Based Detection: Monitoring system behavior for signs of unauthorized or suspicious activity.
  • Cloud-Based Intelligence: Utilizing the latest threat intelligence from cloud databases to identify emerging threats.
  • Sandboxing: Running unknown applications in a controlled environment to observe behavior without risking system security.

These methods allow anti-spyware to identify and mitigate threats that haven’t been seen before.

How does a firewall work?

A firewall is a network security device that monitors incoming and outgoing network traffic and decides whether to allow or block specific traffic based on a defined set of security rules. Firewalls can be hardware-based, software-based, or a combination of both. They work by:

  • Filtering Traffic: Examining data packets and determining whether they should be allowed through based on the firewall’s rules.
  • Creating Barriers: Acting as a barrier between a secure internal network and untrusted external networks like the internet.
  • Stateful Inspection: Keeping track of the state of active connections and making decisions based on the context of the traffic.

 

How does a password manager work?

A password manager is a tool that helps users store and manage their passwords securely. It works by:

  • Storing Passwords: Keeping all passwords in an encrypted database.
  • Generating Passwords: Creating strong, unique passwords for each account.
  • Auto-Fill Feature: Automatically filling in usernames and passwords for websites and applications.
  • Encryption: Protecting stored data with robust encryption, usually requiring a master password to access.

 

How does a VPN work?

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) works by creating a secure, encrypted connection between a user’s device and a VPN server. This tunnel hides the user’s IP address and encrypts all the data sent over the connection, providing:

  • Privacy: Concealing the user’s real IP address and location.
  • Security: Encrypting data to protect it from eavesdroppers.
  • Access to Restricted Content: Allowing access to geo-restricted content by routing the connection through servers in different countries.

 

How does anti-phishing work?

Anti-phishing works by identifying and blocking phishing attempts, which are fraudulent practices to obtain sensitive information. It involves:

  • Email Filtering: Scanning emails for phishing indicators like suspicious links, attachments, and sender addresses.
  • Website Analysis: Identifying fake websites that mimic legitimate ones to steal user information.
  • Alerts: Warning users when they are about to enter a suspected phishing site.

 

How does ransomware protection work?

Ransomware protection works by preventing ransomware from infecting the system or mitigating its effects. It includes:

  • Access Control: Preventing unauthorized access to important files.
  • Behavior Monitoring: Identifying suspicious behaviors typical of ransomware.
  • Data Backup: Regularly backing up data to allow recovery in case of a ransomware attack.
  • File Recovery: Enabling the restoration of encrypted files without paying the ransom.

 

How does identity theft protection work?

Identity theft protection involves monitoring and alerting services to prevent and respond to identity theft. It includes:

  • Credit Monitoring: Watching for unauthorized activities on your credit reports.
  • Alerts: Notifying you of potential identity theft, like unusual account activity.
  • Recovery Services: Assisting in the recovery process if identity theft occurs.

 

How do parental controls work?

Parental controls are tools or software that allow parents to monitor and limit their children’s online activities. They work by:

  • Content Filtering: Blocking access to inappropriate or harmful content.
  • Usage Controls: Setting limits on how much time children can spend on devices.
  • Activity Monitoring: Tracking what children are doing online and which applications they’re using.
  • Location Tracking: Some parental control tools also offer location tracking for child safety.

 

Other questions

What anti-spyware software have we tested?

We have tested 39 anti-spyware software from 28 brands. These range from free anti-spyware programs, to entry-level paid anti-spyware programs, mid-range paid anti-spyware software, and full-featured internet security suites.

These are the programs we recommend:

We believe that Norton Antivirus Plus is the best entry-level anti-spyware software and Norton 360 Deluxe the best anti-spyware all around.

Does this page exist in other languages?

Yes, at SoftwareLab, we write in 11 languages:

Click the links to be taken to the language of your choice.

What sources and tools have we used?

Below are the sources and tools we’ve used to test the antivirus software:

Click the links to be taken to the source or tool of your choice.

Author: Tibor Moes

Author: Tibor Moes

Founder & Chief Editor at SoftwareLab

Tibor has tested 39 antivirus programs and 30 VPN services, and holds a Cybersecurity Graduate Certificate from Stanford University.

He uses Norton to protect his devices, CyberGhost for his privacy, and Dashlane for his passwords.

You can find him on LinkedIn or contact him here.