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The 5 Best Antivirus with a Firewall (2023 Update)
By Tibor Moes / Updated: March 2023
Do you need antivirus software and a firewall? Yes, you do. The digital realm can be a dangerous place.
- Infecting your PC is surprisingly easy: You can download malware by visiting the wrong website, attaching a USB drive, installing free software, or opening an email attachment. And you wouldn’t even know it happened.
- A firewall is your first line of defense: Your firewall stands between your computer and a network, like the internet. It controls the data that is allowed in and out. Without it, any hacker or program can access your device.
- Antivirus software is your security team: It scans all apps on your computer for malicious code and suspicious behavior. Those attempting to harm you or your PC will be quarantined and neutralized.
By buying the best antivirus with a firewall, you build a fortified wall around your PC. You will strengthen your security and privacy, and restore your peace of mind. Not installing antivirus software with a firewall on your computer, is like leaving your front door open while you leave the house. Don’t take chances online.
- Device Security 100% 100%
- Online Privacy 100% 100%
The best antivirus with a firewall of 2023.
Norton is the only brand offering 100% anti-malware protection and an advanced firewall. It also has a range of excellent security features:
Password manager, VPN without a data limit, parental controls, dark web monitor, cloud storage, webcam protection, and web protection.
Choose Norton if you want the best protection for your devices and privacy. You can try it risk-free, thanks to the 60-day return policy.
- Device Security 99% 99%
- Online Privacy 96% 96%
Excellent antivirus and firewall, for a low price.
Bitdefender offers 99% anti-malware protection, an advanced firewall, and a broad range of security features:
Password manager, VPN with a data limit of 200 MB/day, parental controls, dark web monitor, anti-trackers, webcam protection, and web protection.
Choose Bitdefender for excellent protection at a fair price. You can try it risk-free, thanks to the 30-day return policy.
Antivirus Ranking and Reviews of 2023
We have tested and reviewed security software since 2014. Below, we have selected the top 5 from 20 paid and free antivirus software.
- 1. 🥇 Norton Antivirus - The best antivirus software of 2023.
- 2. 🥈 Bitdefender Antivirus - Excellent protection at a low price.
- 3. 🥉 Panda Antivirus - Most flexible pricing.
- 4. Kaspersky Antivirus
- 5. McAfee Antivirus
- Comparison table
- How we test
- How to choose
- Antivirus tested
- Frequently asked questions
Click the links or scroll down for more.
Norton Antivirus Review
Norton 360 Antivirus Review
Norton offers the best antivirus protection on all operating systems.
Norton antivirus is the only brand with a 100% malware protection score. No other brand has achieved this. Its real-time malware protection tool, called SONAR, is the best.
To get to this score, we averaged all test scores since 2016 by AV-Test, an independent test lab. We also ran our own tests, during which Norton was able to detect malware attacks and phishing attempts in real-time.
Norton SONAR applies heuristic analysis and machine learning to spot known and unknown security risks. This means it identifies new threats through suspicious behavior rather than malicious computer code.
Norton's Smart Firewall checks incoming and outgoing connections for suspicious behavior. It stops any attack before it becomes a problem.
By contrast, Windows' firewall only checks incoming connections. It does not monitor whether software on your computer makes suspicious outgoing connections to other devices.
And that's not all. Norton's firewall also cloaks your inactive ports, so that hackers can't find them through hacking techniques like port scanning.
Norton's unlimited VPN (Virtual Private Network) is outstanding. It is fast, secure (AES-256 & OpenVPN), private (no logs), allows torrenting (P2P), and features auto-connect, a kill switch, ad tracker blocking, and a split tunnel.
Most VPN services, like those by Bitdefender, have a daily data limit of 200 MB. To remove the data limit, you'll have to pay extra. Norton, however, includes its unlimited VPN for free.
Norton's password manager is excellent. Creating passwords is easy. Auto-filling them is accurate. And you can access your password vault using biometrics scanners (fingerprint or facial recognition).
Prices & Packages
- Norton Antivirus Plus starts at € 15 and offers basic protection: Anti-malware, firewall, and password manager. It protects 1 PC or Mac.
- Norton 360 Standard starts at € 20 and adds the unlimited VPN and webcam protection. It protects 1 device.
- Norton 360 Deluxe starts at € 25 and adds dark web monitoring. It protects 5 devices.
- Norton 360 Premium starts at € 30. It protects 10 devices.
- Web protection: Block malicious websites via the Safe Web extension.
- Cloud backup: Back up important files in secure cloud storage.
- Parental controls: Monitor and protect your kids online.
- Privacy monitor: Scan data brokers for your personal information.
- Webcam protection: Prevent unauthorized access to your webcam.
- Dark web monitoring: Scan the dark web for your personal information.
- LifeLock identity theft protection: Discover and restore identity theft.
Note: Norton's identity protection features are only available in the USA.
Is Norton the best antivirus software of 2023?
Yes, Norton is the best antivirus program in our test.
Modern security software need to offer far more than just anti-malware protection. By combining device security, online privacy, and identity theft protection, is Norton the best internet security suite you can buy.
You can try Norton risk-free, thanks to its 60-day return policy.
Bitdefender Antivirus Review
Ranked #2 out of 20 Antivirus
Bitdefender Antivirus Review
Bitdefender's antivirus engine is famous for its outstanding protection, many security features, and multi-layer ransomware protection, while being light on system resources.
Bitdefender antivirus has a 99% malware protection score. This was its average of all independent tests by AV-Test since October 2016. It puts Bitdefender ahead of all competitors, except Norton.
Bitdefender's real-time protection feature, Advanced Threat Defense, offers solid virus protection and advanced ransomware protection.
It does not rely on traditional malware detection methods, which use virus signatures. Instead, it continuously monitors the behavior of apps. The apps are blocked if Bitdefender spots an anomaly, such as code injection.
This method offers excellent malware detection rates while having a low number of false positives. During our own tests, Bitdefender detected the latest malware types instantly.
Bitdefender's firewall can block inbound and outbound connections on local networks and the internet. On top of that, Bitdefender detects and blocks port scans that hackers use to find open ports on your device.
Bitdefender's free VPN has a data limit of 200 MB / day. That equals 5 minutes of streaming at 720p or the opening of 100 websites.
Bitdefender uses Aura's VPN tech but has built its own apps. The VPN is fast, secure (AES-256 & HydraVPN), private (no logs), allows torrenting, and has a few extra features: start-up, auto-connect, kill switch, and split tunneling.
You will have to buy Bitdefender Premium VPN or Bitdefender Premium Security, for unlimited data transmission.
Bitdefender's password manager is a bit useless, because it only supports Windows. And not macOS, Android, or iOS.
Prices & Packages
- Bitdefender Antivirus Plus starts at € 16 and offers basic antivirus protection: Anti-malware, VPN, and password manager. It protects 3 PCs.
- Bitdefender Internet Security starts at € 24 and adds the firewall and several extra features. It protects 3 PCs.
- Bitdefender Total Security starts at € 32 and adds several extra features. It protects up to 5 devices.
Note: There is also Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition, the free version of Antivirus Plus. This is the best free antivirus software. But honestly, it's very basic and not much better than the built-in Microsoft Defender. So instead, we recommend Bitdefender's paid antivirus software. It's worth it.
- Online threat prevention: Anti-phishing protection for malicious sites.
- Vulnerability scan: Scan the operating system, apps, and network.
- Ransomware remediation: Restore files encrypted by ransomware.
- Anti-spam: Customize anti-spam for Outlook and Thunderbird.
- Safepay: Open a secure browser for online banking protection.
- Video and audio protection: Webcam and microphone protection.
- Anti-tracker: Remove tracking cookies via this browser extension.
- Parental advisor: Monitor the digital activities of your kids.
- Anti-theft: Locate and wipe your devices remotely.
- One-click optimizer: Clean up your hard drive and browsers.
- Data protection / file shredder: Permanently remove files.
Is Bitdefender the best antivirus software of 2023?
Bitdefender is one of the best antivirus programs in our test. Its anti-malware is exceptional, and the firewall and VPN are highly advanced. On top of that, its extra features are excellent.
We prefer Norton slightly, because its password manager works on all operating software (Bitdefender's only on Windows), and its free VPN is unlimited (Bitdefender's is limited to 200 MB / day).
However, we're also big fans of Bitdefender's internet security software. And as its renewal price is lower than Norton's, it's one of the best antivirus deals.
You can try Bitdefender risk-free, thanks to its 30-day return policy.
Panda Antivirus Review
Ranked #3 out of 20 Antivirus
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Panda Dome Antivirus Review
Panda offers excellent virus protection on Windows. And it has the most flexible pricing for its antivirus packages.
Panda antivirus scores 99.9% in the real-world protection tests. This is the average of all tests by AV-Comparatives since 2020. The score puts Panda ahead of all competitors, including Kaspersky, Bitdefender, and Norton.
Note that there are two independent testing labs: AV-Test and AV-Comparatives. Both test the malware scanning capabilities of free and premium antivirus programs. Usually, we quote AV-Test. However, Panda only takes part in the independent lab tests of AV-Comparatives.
Panda combines big data, artificial intelligence, and machine learning to scan all apps on your device. This allows it to counter known malware and advanced emerging threats like zero-day malware, ransomware, and API's.
Panda's firewall filters incoming and outgoing connections on local networks and the internet. It automatically assigns permissions to each application based on its risk level. But you can edit the rules per app.
Panda includes a free VPN with its antivirus products. However, this built-in VPN is limited to 150 MB / day, which isn't a lot. That equals about 4 minutes of streaming at 720p or the opening of 75 websites.
Like Bitdefender, Panda's VPN uses Aura's technology. This means that the VPN is fast, secure (AES-256 & HydraVPN), private (no logs), and allows torrenting. However, it lacks extra features like a kill switch, making its € 50.00 price expensive.
Panda's password manager is excellent. Generating and storing passwords is easy. Auto-filling them is accurate. And both two-factor authentification and biometrics login is supported.
The design of the browser extension for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox is identical to the apps on Android and iOS, which gives it a seamless experience across all major operating systems.
Prices & Packages
- Panda Dome Essential starts at € 17 and offers entry-level antivirus protection: Anti-malware, VPN, and a firewall.
- Panda Dome Advanced starts at € 23 and adds several extra features.
- Panda Dome Complete starts at € 35 and adds the password manager and several extra features.
- Panda Dome Premium starts at € 35 and adds the unlimited VPN and several extra features.
- Safe browsing: Block malicious URLs and phishing sites.
- Dark web scanner: Search the dark web for your email address.
- PC cleanup: Delete cookies or files with the system optimization tools.
- Wi-Fi protection: Check and improve the security of your Wi-Fi network.
- Anti-theft: Locate your PC if it is lost or stolen.
- File encryptor: Encrypt sensitive files with a password.
- File shredder: Securely and permanently delete files.
- USB protection: Scan a USB drive for malware.
Is Panda the best antivirus software of 2023?
Panda is one of the best antivirus software in our test. We really like the password manager and flexible pricing.
But we prefer Norton, because it includes an unlimited VPN at a lower price. And because it offers better protection for Macs and mobile devices.
However, if you only have a Windows PC to protect, Panda's excellent internet security suites are a great choice.
You can try Panda risk-free, thanks to its 30-day money-back guarantee.
Kaspersky Antivirus Review
Ranked #4 out of 20 Antivirus
Kaspersky Anti-Virus Review
Kaspersky offers exceptional online security for Windows PCs, Mac computers, and Android devices. And the introduction of Kaspersky Security Cloud brings protection to iOS too.
Kaspersky antivirus has a 99% malware protection score. This was its average in the independent tests by AV-Test since October 2016. This puts it ahead of all other antivirus companies, except Norton.
It can offer such excellent malware protection through its triple-layer protection system:
- Locate vulnerabilities and threats pro-actively via heuristic analysis.
- Block cyber threats in real-time.
- Instantly isolate and remove dangers.
Kaspersky has one of the most advanced firewalls in the industry. It will filter incoming and outgoing network activity on local networks and the internet. And although it works perfectly on the default settings, there are plenty of customization options too.
Like Bitdefender's VPN, it uses Aura's technology. Therefore, the VPN is fast, secure (AES-256 & HydraVPN), and allows torrenting (P2P). It also features several extra features: Auto-connect, kill switch, smart protection, and website protection.
However, by default, Kaspersky will collect information on your device, location, VPN server, and WiFI network (including IP and DNS settings). It does this to improve product quality, send ads and create marketing offers.
Kaspersky's password manager is excellent. Creating and storing passwords is easy, and auto-filling them is accurate. Unlike Norton and McAfee, Kaspersky's password manager is a desktop app rather than a web app. But that doesn't get in the way of a great user experience.
Prices & Packages
- Kaspersky Anti-Virus starts at € 20 and offers only antivirus protection. It protects 3 Windows computers.
- Kaspersky Internet Security starts at € 26 and adds the VPN, firewall, and several extra features. It protects 3 devices.
- Kaspersky Total Security starts at € 32 and adds the password manager and several extra features. It protects 5 devices.
- Internal scan: Scan for worms, spyware, rootkits, and other malware.
- External scan: Scan external drives, like a hard disk or USB drive.
- Vulnerability scan: Scan your device for security risks.
- Kaspersky protection: A hardened browser extension for secure banking.
- Parental controls: Monitor and protect your children online.
- Webcam protection: Block programs from accessing your webcam.
- Private browsing: Block and remove tracking cookies in your browser.
- Backup and restore: Backup files to cloud backup storage.
- File encryption: Lock sensitive files in a secure vault.
- File shredder: Permanently delete files via advanced protocols.
Is Kaspersky the best antivirus software of 2023?
Kaspersky offers excellent antivirus protection. Its anti-malware is industry-leading, its firewall and password manager are excellent, and it provides a wide range of extra features.
Therefore, we prefer Norton, which includes an unlimited VPN for free in its antivirus suite. And it doesn't track what you do online.
You can try Kaspersky risk-free, thanks to its 30-day return policy.
McAfee Antivirus Review
Ranked #5 out of 20 Antivirus
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McAfee Antivirus Review
McAfee Total Protection, McAfee's main antivirus product, is excellent. And its interface is one of the very best on all popular operating systems.
McAfee antivirus has a 96% malware protection score. Unfortunately, that puts it behind the top performers: Norton, Bitdefender, and Kaspersky. We got this score by averaging all test scores by AV-Test since 2016.
Luckily, McAfee has improved its cybersecurity tools a lot in recent years. Since April 2020, it has achieved a perfect 100% score in every test.
In our tests, McAfee offered reliable protection against malicious software and cyber threats. Which means that it successfully detected and removed all offline and online threats.
McAfee can reach these results because of its Scan Engine:
- It runs antivirus scans and matches files with malware samples.
- It executes malicious code in a safe environment, called a sandbox.
- It applies heuristic techniques to recognize new malicious threats.
- It removes dangerous code from corrupted files.
McAfee's excellent firewall filters both in- and outgoing traffic. On top of that, McAfee hides open ports so that hackers can't identify unused ones with their port scanning techniques.
McAfee's VPN had some errors in our test. Although we had bought the unlimited VPN, we got a 500 MB / day limit on Android and iOS. And on macOS, the VPN didn't work at all. Only on Windows, it worked.
That said, the VPN is fast, secure (AES-256 & HydraVPN), and allows torrenting (P2P). But there are no extra features.
McAfee's cross-platform password manager is one of the best.
Creating and storing passwords is easy. Auto-filling them is accurate. And you can use biometrics (facial recognition and fingerprint scanner) to log in. As a result, it can compete with the best password managers, like Dashlane.
Prices & Packages
- Mcafee Total Protection Basic starts at € 30. It protects 1 device.
- Mcafee Total Protection Standard starts at € 35. It protects 3 devices.
- Mcafee Total Protection Plus starts at € 40. It protects 5 devices.
- Mcafee Total Protection Premium starts at € 45. It protects 10 devices.
- Secure Apps: A vulnerability scanner for security updates.
- App Boost: A performance boost for apps you frequently use.
- Browser Security: An anti-phishing browser extension.
- Web Boost: A browser extension that stops videos from auto-playing.
- Tracker Remover: A feature that deletes tracking cookies.
- ID Protection: A dark web scanner for your personal data.
- File Shredder: A shredder that can delete files securely.
- File Lock: An app that creates password-protected file vaults.
- Anti-Spam: An anti-spam feature for Outlook and Thunderbird.
- Safe Family: A parental control feature to monitor and protect kids online.
Is McAfee the best antivirus software of 2023?
McAfee has improved its virus protection significantly in recent years. On top of that, its password manager is one of the best, and its design is both user-friendly and beautiful. So it's a good antivirus program.
However, if we look at the long-term anti-malware performance since 2016, it is tied with Windows Defender, and behind Norton and Bitdefender. And its VPN still had some errors during our tests. So we prefer Norton.
You can try McAfee risk-free, thanks to its 30-day return policy.
Comparison table of the best antivirus software
The best antivirus deals:
How do we test the best antivirus with firewall?
Antivirus protection with a firewall in 2023 should extend beyond detecting malware on Windows PCs. The top antivirus programs protect against various cyber threats, including data breaches, malware attacks, phishing attempts, privacy violations, ransomware attacks, spyware infections, zero-day attacks, and more, for all major operating systems.
In addition to offering comprehensive security features, the best antivirus software should also have a user-friendly interface and be reasonably priced. To find out which antivirus provider is worth your money, we put them through 15 tests.
> Test 1: Anti-malware protection test
Malware is any malicious software and can include various online threats such as adware, keyloggers, ransomware, spyware, trojans, viruses, worms, and more. Most of these threats are known malware, meaning cybersecurity companies have encountered them before. However, some are unknown malware, meaning they are new and have never been encountered before.
These latest malware threats are difficult to detect with traditional real-time protection, which uses virus definitions to identify threats by scanning the code of potential malware against a database of malicious code samples.
The best anti-malware software has evolved to include heuristic analysis or behavior monitoring to scan for suspicious behavioral patterns and discover malware before it can be added to the database.
To find the best antivirus packages for real-time malware protection, we run our tests and analyze results from independent antivirus testing labs such as AV-Test, SE Labs, and AV-Comparatives. Our preferred source is AV-Test, where we average Windows’ historical protection test results since 2016.
> Test 2: False positives test
A false positive is when antivirus software mistakes a legitimate program for malware, confuses a harmless file for malicious code or blocks access to a safe website.
While false positives are a regular occurrence for all antivirus programs and are generally not a cause for concern, a high number of them can be frustrating. To better understand this issue, we refer to the findings from AV-Test’s comprehensive analysis of false positives in their usability test.
> Test 3: System performance test
To ensure safe browsing, it is essential to consider the impact of antivirus software on your PC’s resources. We measure the CPU load while the antivirus software runs quick and complete system scans to evaluate this. This allows us to determine whether the security software requires many system resources, leaving less of your computer’s performance for other tasks.
In addition, we consider the results of AV-Test’s performance section, which measures the slow-down caused by antivirus software on opening websites
> Test 4: Firewall test
A two-way firewall sits between your computer and a network. This network can be a local area network (LAN) or the internet. The Firewall will then filter incoming and outgoing data streams to keep malware and hackers out.
Firewalls can be software-based, hardware-based, or sold as a service. For example, within antivirus software, only the software-based Firewall exists.
Software-based firewalls will consume some of your PC’s CPU and RAM. But in turn, they offer a high degree of protection against malware, can filter incoming and outgoing traffic, and offer you detailed control over the connectivity of each program on your computer.
We test whether the Firewall successfully blocks all ports on our test PC using the ShieldsUP! test of the Gibson Research Corporation. On top of that, we test whether we can set custom rules for various network types, such as home, work, and public networks. And finally, we test whether we have fine-grained control over the connectivity rules for each app.
As this comparison dedicates itself to antivirus programs and firewalls, we will explain the various firewall types and their functions. However, many firewall types only apply to enterprises and are not sold with antivirus software. So if you’re not interested, feel free to skip this part.
- Packet-Filtering Firewall
Applications exchange information with each other in data packets. Packet-filtering firewalls check whether these data packets are transmitted according to specific rules relating to IP addresses, protocols, and ports.
If a data packet does not fit the criteria, it is dropped. So the information in the data packet is not inspected. This makes packet-filtering firewalls inexpensive, fast, and straightforward. But also a blunt instrument with little logic behind it.
- Circuit-Level Gateway
A Circuit-Level Gateway inspects initiation messages, such as TCP handshakes, to decide whether a small party can be trusted and whether a secure connection can be established.
It is another straightforward firewall type that doesn’t inspect the data packets. It is, therefore, best combined with a different kind of Firewall, like an Application-Level Gateway.
- Application-Level Gateway
Application-Level Gateways are sometimes called Proxy Firewalls. They function as the entry and exit points of a network. They analyze not just the address, port, and TCP header information but also the information inside the data packet.
Because they filter the data so thoroughly, Application-Level Gateways add a significant security layer to a network. However, the filtering can be labor intensive and, therefore, slow down the network’s performance.
- Stateful Inspection Firewall
A Stateful Inspection Firewall, sometimes called a Multilayer Inspection Firewall, examines each data packet and checks whether it belongs to an established TCP or network session.
Combining data and circuit inspection, it offers a high degree of control over what is allowed in and out of the network. However, this attention to detail can be expensive and resource-intensive, potentially slowing down the network.
- Next Generation Firewall
Next-Generation Firewalls (NGFW) are the most advanced firewalls, used by heavily regulated industries like finance and healthcare. They combine (deep) packet inspection and stateful inspection, with other network security systems like anti-malware.
Because they are so advanced and multi-functional, they require significant expertise and integration with other security systems. As you can imagine, this makes them the most costly firewall type.
> Test 5: Password manager test
A password manager is a software that helps you create and store secure, unique passwords for your online accounts. It can also automatically enter your login information on websites and apps, making it easier for you to log in.
Using a password manager enhances the security of your online accounts by allowing you to use long and complex passwords that are hard for hackers to guess or crack. It also helps you avoid using the same password for multiple accounts, which can be risky because if one account is compromised, the hacker may be able to access all your other accounts.
Some password managers also offer extra security features such as two-factor authentication and alerts for potential account breaches. We test all these features.
> Test 6: Virtual Private Network (VPN) test
A VPN is a tool that helps you maintain your privacy and security online. It creates a secure, encrypted connection between your device and the internet, protecting your data and activity from being monitored or intercepted.
In our evaluations, we examine the security and privacy of the built-in VPN through its encryption strength and VPN protocol, log policy, and download speed. We also check its compatibility with streaming services like Netflix, Disney Plus, and Amazon Prime and whether it allows unlimited data and torrenting.
> Test 7: Parental control test
Parental controls allow parents to limit their children’s online activities and monitor internet usage. These controls can include setting time limits, blocking inappropriate content, and monitoring communication with others.
Our testing involves installing the parental control features on a test device and attempting to evade them in the way an intelligent child would. We also check that the parental control admin accurately and promptly reports our activity on the test device.
> Test 8: Anti-phishing protection test
A phishing attack is a type of cybercrime in which an attacker tries to trick you into giving them sensitive information, such as your login credentials or financial information, by disguising themselves as legitimate entity. This is often done through email, social media, or text messages, and the attacker may use urgent language or threats to get you to take action.
Anti-phishing software is a tool that helps defend against phishing attacks by identifying and blocking suspicious websites and emails. It examines the links and content of websites and emails and compares them to a list of known phishing threats. If a threat is found, the software will prevent you from accessing the website or email and alert you to the potential danger.
We test the anti-phishing capabilities of the antivirus software.
> Test 9: Ransomware protection test
A ransomware attack is a cyber attack in which an attacker takes control of your data and demands payment to release it. The attacker may threaten to destroy your data or make it public if you do not pay the ransom within a specific time limit. These attacks can be particularly harmful to businesses, as they can cause lost productivity and income.
Anti-ransomware software is a tool that helps defend against ransomware attacks by detecting and blocking malicious software that may try to lock your data and demand payment to release it. It works by searching your computer for known ransomware threats and stopping them before they can cause harm.
We test the anti-ransomware capabilities of the antivirus software.
> Test 10: Bonus features test
Antivirus programs aren’t just for fighting viruses – they can also come with various extra features. These can range from spam filters and secure browsers to premium options like secure online storage. While we can’t go into every part in-depth, these cybersecurity tools can be precious to have at your disposal.
- Ad Blocker
- Dark web monitoring (identity protection)
- Email protection
- File encryption
- File shredder
- Gaming mode
- Microphone protection
- PC maintenance features
- Secure browser (hardened browser to protect your online banking)
- Secure cloud storage (cloud backup)
- Spam filter
- Startup optimizer
- Tune up tools
- Virtual keyboard
- Webcam protection
> Test 11: Operating system and multiple devices test
Antivirus software must be able to protect various operating systems. It may seem obvious, but many antivirus programs only focus on Windows computers and neglect security for Mac, Android, and iOS devices. We make sure to test all antivirus software on every operating system.
> Test 12: Ownership and reputation test
Some antivirus companies have a poor reputation for handling customer data. Avast, for instance, was found to have tracked and sold the browsing habits of millions of its users via its Online Security browser extension and subsidiary, Jumpshot. While the company says it has stopped these activities and has been sold to Norton, the damage to its reputation lingers.
We review press releases, news articles, and privacy policies, especially for browser extensions and VPN services, when evaluating cybersecurity companies in our tests to ensure that they have a good reputation regarding customer data.
> Test 13: Interface test
Cybersecurity isn’t an exciting topic for many people, so antivirus software needs to be quick, easy to install, and simple to use. We test the installation speed of each program, as well as how easy it is to use on the default settings and how complex it is to adjust the advanced settings.
> Test 14: Customer support test
While it would be nice to live in a world where everything goes perfectly, the reality is that things often go wrong. People may click on dangerous links, open malicious files, fall for phishing scams, or answer spam emails. When these things happen, it’s crucial to have good customer support to turn to.
That’s why we check to see if antivirus companies offer 24/7 live chat, email, and phone support and examine their knowledge base, forums, and FAQs. We also test the support team by contacting them with complicated questions to gauge their speed and capabilities.
> Test 15: Value for money test
It’s crucial to avoid free antivirus products, as they may analyze your behavior and sell that data to marketing firms, essentially protecting you from malware by installing spyware. While some free antivirus programs may offer essential antivirus protection, they rarely do more than that, effectively making them free malware removal tools, which both Windows and Mac already have built-in.
Therefore, we recommend opting for a paid version. On the other hand, cybersecurity shouldn’t be too costly, so we compare first-year and second-year renewal prices across antivirus providers and look at what you get for your money. Ideally, we want top-tier anti-malware protection, an unlimited VPN, and a password manager.
How to choose the best antivirus with a firewall?
You can skip looking for free antivirus software when choosing the best antivirus with a firewall. These never include a firewall. Instead, you should ask yourself two questions:
- What operating software would you like to protect?
- What features do you need?
What operating software would you like to protect?
Most antivirus software include a firewall on Windows 10 and 11. Not that many offer one on macOS. And zero feature one on Android and iOS.
This example says a lot about the cybersecurity industry. It is very Windows-focused. However, most of us have multiple devices to protect, including an Android or iOS phone. And perhaps a Mac.
For full-featured protection on each operating system, we recommend Norton. It is the only brand we’ve tested that offers complete protection for each device.
Should you want more detailed advice per operating software, then we recommend visiting our comparison pages below:
- The best antivirus software of 2023. Here you can find out about the best multi-device antivirus software.
- The best antivirus software for Windows 11. Here you can read about the best antivirus software for Microsoft’s latest operating system: Windows 11.
- The best antivirus software for macOS. Here you can learn about the best security software for MacBooks and iMacs.
- The best antivirus apps for Android. Here you can find out about the best security apps for Google’s mobile operating system: Android.
- The best antivirus apps for iOS. Here you can find out about the best security apps for iPhones and iPads.
- The best antivirus with an unlimited VPN. Here you can learn about the best antivirus programs that include a VPN without a data limit.
- The best VPN software. And for those who prefer to learn more about privacy-focused software, have a look at our VPN comparison.
What features do you need?
Everyone needs anti-malware protection, anti-phishing protection, a firewall, and a password manager. That much is clear. But there are optional features, which you might need, depending on your circumstances:
- Virtual Private Network (VPN). Using a VPN is essential for those who frequently use public or unsecured Wi-Fi networks. It will protect you from advertisers and hackers that attempt to track or hack your data stream.
- Ransomware Protection. Ransomware protection can be a lifesaver for those who manage a small business. Sadly, the rise of ransomware went hand-in-hand with the rise of cryptocurrency. So if you don’t want to get locked out of your data, stay protected.
- Parental Controls. For those of us blessed with younglings, parental controls can be an excellent tool to protect them online. For example, you can set boundaries on the internet and time limits on screen time. On top of that, you can finally see what you’re kids are up to on their phones (probably Tik-Tok).
Other features to consider are dark web monitoring, identity theft protection, and secure cloud storage, all of which Norton offers.
What antivirus software have we tested?
We have tested security products from 20 different antivirus companies.
We have tested free versions, paid versions, entry-level versions, premium versions, stand-alone VPN, and much more. If it’s out there, we’ve tried it.
Below are the security tools we tested:
- Avast Antivirus Free, Avast Premium Security & Avast One
- AVG Antivirus Free & AVG Ultimate
- Avira Free Security & Avira Prime
- Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition, Bitdefender Antivirus Plus, Bitdefender Internet Security, Bitdefender Total Security, Bitdefender Premium Security & Bitdefender Premium VPN
- BullGuard Antivirus & BullGuard Premium Protection
- Comodo Antivirus
- ESET Internet Security Premium Protection
- F-Secure Safe & F-Secure Total
- Intego Mac Internet Security X9 & Mac Premium Bundle X9
- Kaspersky Anti-Virus (Kaspersky Antivirus), Kaspersky Internet Security, Kaspersky Security Cloud, Kaspersky Total Security & Kaspersky VPN Secure Connection
- MacKeeper Antivirus
- Malwarebytes Free & Malwarebytes Premium
- McAfee Antivirus Plus & McAfee Total Protection Premium
- Microsoft Defender (Windows Defender)
- Panda Dome Essential & Panda Dome Premium
- Norton Antivirus Plus, Norton Norton 360 Premium & Norton Secure VPN
- Sophos Home Premium
- TotalAV Antivirus Pro & TotalAV Total Security
- Trend Micro Antivirus Security & Trend Micro Maximum Security
- Webroot Antivirus (Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus) & Webroot Internet Security
Frequently asked questions
What is the best antivirus with a firewall?
The best antivirus with a firewall is Norton. It is the only antivirus with 100% anti-malware protection and an excellent two-way firewall. Get a discount for Norton here.
How does antivirus software work?
Antivirus software works by scanning your computer for malware by inspecting the computer code and behaviors of files. If malware is found, it’s isolated and neutralized.
How does a firewall work?
A firewall works by filtering the incoming and outgoing data between your computer and a network. This can be the internet or a local network. Dangerous data is stopped.
Do you need antivirus software?
Yes, you need antivirus software. Although Windows and macOS come pre-installed with security tools, these aren’t as complete as the best antivirus software.
Do you need a firewall?
Yes, you need a firewall. If you don’t have a firewall, the ports on your computer are open to hackers or malware. It’s like leaving your front door open.
Is free antivirus software safe to use?
No, free antivirus software is not safe to use. If you have no money to spend on cybersecurity, stick to the pre-installed antivirus software on Windows and macOS.
Is Kaspersky safe to use?
Yes, from what we can see, Kaspersky is still safe to use. Its data processing was moved to Switzerland before the war in Ukraine. And there is no evidence of tampering by the government.
Below are the sources and tools we’ve used to analyze the antivirus software and write our article.
- Apple 1
- Apple 2
- AV-Test 1
- AV-Test 2
- AV-Test 3
- AV-Test 4
- Bitdefender 1
- Bitdefender 2
- Bitdefender 3
- Hotspot Shield
- Kaspersky 1
- Kaspersky 2
- Kaspersky 3
- McAfee 1
- McAfee 2
- Norton 1
- Norton 2
- Norton 3
- Norton 4
- Norton 5
- Norton 6
- Panda 1
- Panda 2
- Panda 3
- Panda 4
Author: Tibor Moes
Founder & Chief Editor at SoftwareLab
Tibor is a Dutch engineer and entrepreneur. He has tested security software since 2014.
Over the years, he has tested most of the best antivirus software for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS, as well as many VPN providers.
He uses Norton to protect his devices, CyberGhost for his privacy, and Dashlane for his passwords.
This website is hosted on a Digital Ocean server via Cloudways and is built with DIVI on WordPress.