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The 7 Best Internet Security 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 internet security software of 2024

Norton 360

Ranked #1 of 28 brands

  • Malware Protection 100% 100%
  • Security Features 100% 100%

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

  • Malware protection: 100%. Norton stopped all 1,200 malware 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 internet security software of 2024

Avast One

Ranked #2 of 28 brands

  • Malware Protection 100% 100%
  • Security Features 80% 80%

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

  • Malware protection: 100%. Avast stopped all 1,200 malware 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 internet security of 2024

Cybercrime is on the rise. Phishing scams are after your financial data. Spyware tries to steal your passwords. And ransomware attempts to lock your files. The need for security software has never been greater.

For 2024, we tested 39 internet security programs from 28 brands. We infected our PC with 1,200 malware attacks to push the anti-malware protection to the limits. We also inspected the firewalls, password managers, anti-phishing, VPNs, and other security features in detail.

These are the best internet security software of 2024:

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

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 internet security software of 2024. It has perfect anti-malware 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.

  • Malware protection: 100%. Norton detected and removed each of the 1,200 malware 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 Review: Updated for 2024

In our journey to explore the best internet security software of 2024, we’ve tested Norton 360 extensively. Norton stands out not only for its antivirus capabilities but for its comprehensive approach to internet security.

Anti-Malware

We’re impressed with Norton’s performance in malware protection. Averaging the last 10 test scores from AV-Test, an independent lab, along with our own rigorous testing, Norton consistently showcased a 100% malware protection rate.

Its real-time protection tool, SONAR, uses heuristic analysis and machine learning, adeptly spotting both known and novel threats. This proactive approach is crucial in today’s ever-evolving digital landscape.

Firewall

The Smart Firewall feature in Norton 360 offers more than the standard firewall protection. Unlike the basic Windows firewall that only monitors incoming connections, Norton’s firewall scrutinizes both incoming and outgoing connections, effectively thwarting attacks before they escalate.

An additional layer of security is added by cloaking inactive ports, making them less vulnerable to hacking techniques like port scanning.

VPN

Norton’s unlimited VPN service is a standout feature. We found it to be fast, secure, and privacy-oriented, offering AES-256 encryption and OpenVPN protocol, with no logging of user data.

The inclusion of features like torrent-friendly servers, auto-connect, a kill switch, ad tracker blocking, and split tunneling enhances its appeal. Unlike many competitors who impose data limits, Norton offers its VPN without any restrictions as part of its package.

Password Manager

We also evaluated Norton’s password manager, finding it user-friendly and secure. Its ability to create strong passwords, accurately auto-fill them, and the convenience of accessing your vault via biometric scanners adds a layer of both security and ease.

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

Additional features like web protection, cloud backup, parental controls, privacy monitor, webcam protection, dark web monitoring, and LifeLock identity theft protection (available in the USA) make Norton 360 a robust internet security solution.

Is Norton the Best Internet Security Software of 2024?

After thorough testing and evaluation, we can confidently say that Norton 360 is more than just antivirus software; it’s a comprehensive internet security suite. Its blend of device security, online privacy, and identity protection makes it an excellent choice for those seeking robust protection in the digital realm.

Plus, with a 60-day return policy, trying Norton 360 is risk-free.

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 internet security software of 2024. It has perfect anti-malware 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.

  • Malware protection: 100%. Avast detected and removed all of the 1,200 malware 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.

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Detailed Review

Avast One Review: Updated for 2024

During our comprehensive evaluation of internet security solutions for 2024, we put Avast One through its paces. Our findings confirm that Avast One is a robust and reliable option, competing well with other top contenders in the industry.

Anti-Malware

Avast’s performance in detecting and eliminating malware is commendable. In our tests involving over 1,200 malware samples, Avast successfully detected and neutralized every single one.

The full scans were thorough, averaging about 54 minutes, and its real-time protection effectively halted encrypted malware downloads. However, users should be aware that the free version of Avast does tend to push upsells quite aggressively.

Firewall

The firewall feature in Avast allows detailed monitoring of network traffic and the ability to manually block applications. Although it offers solid protection, it lacks the user-friendliness and automated functionality we’ve seen in other software like Norton and Bitdefender.

Additionally, we noted the absence of the Wi-Fi Inspector tool for Windows users, which is a drawback for those looking to identify vulnerabilities in their network.

VPN

Testing the Avast One Essential’s VPN, we found it adequate for free users, offering a reasonable 5GB of data per week. However, in our experience, the paid plans of Avast’s VPN didn’t quite match up in terms of speed and unblocking capabilities when compared to some of its rivals, including Bitdefender.

Bonus Features

Avast One includes a suite of utility tools that enhance its value. These range from browser data clearing and software updating to ransomware shielding and email security. However, it’s important to note that some of these features, such as tracking prevention, are reserved for premium users only.

Is Avast the Best Internet Security Software of 2024?

Avast One stands out as a comprehensive security solution with excellent malware protection capabilities. While it doesn’t include a password manager, which might be a dealbreaker for some, it remains a strong contender in the internet security software market.

For those seeking additional features like a password manager or parental controls, alternatives like Norton 360 Deluxe might be more suitable. Additionally, Avast offers a 30-day return policy, allowing users to test the software risk-free.

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 internet security software of 2024. It has near-perfect anti-malware 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 security software 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.

  • Malware protection: 99.8%. TotalAV detected and removed nearly all of the 1,200 malware 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 Total Security Review: Updated for 2024

We recently updated our analysis of TotalAV, focusing on its performance as a comprehensive internet security solution. TotalAV combines affordability, ease of use, and effective protection, making it a strong contender in the 2024 internet security software landscape.

Anti-Malware

TotalAV’s anti-malware capabilities are noteworthy. Leveraging the Avira engine, it offers a variety of scan types including Quick, System, Smart, and Custom. In our testing, the System Scan was thorough yet efficient, taking about an hour with minimal impact on system performance.

The software exhibited a 99.8% success rate in detecting a range of malware, including ransomware and spyware. Its real-time protection was particularly effective in halting malicious downloads instantly.

VPN

The Safe Browsing VPN included with TotalAV performed admirably. It boasts 48 server locations and delivers solid speeds, making it compatible with popular streaming services and supportive of P2P file sharing.

Features such as a kill switch and auto-connect on public networks enhance its functionality. While it may not match the speeds of some standalone VPN services, as a bundled feature, it stands out.

Password Manager

Total Password, TotalAV’s password management solution, impressed us with its security and ease of use. It employs 256-bit AES encryption and offers features like auto-save, auto-fill, and two-factor authentication.

Although it doesn’t have some advanced features like hardware-based 2FA, it effectively handles all the basic password management needs.

Bonus Features

TotalAV rounds out its offering with additional features such as identity theft protection provided by Aura and a system tune-up suite. This suite includes tools like a Startup Manager and Junk Cleaner, which contribute to overall system optimization.

Is TotalAV the Best Internet Security Software of 2024?

In our assessment, TotalAV establishes itself as a robust, budget-friendly internet security option. It combines strong anti-malware protection, an effective VPN, and a competent password manager into a single package.

With a 30-day refund policy, trying TotalAV is a risk-free decision. We recommend TotalAV for those seeking comprehensive, user-friendly security solutions.

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 internet security program in 2024. It has perfect anti-malware 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.

  • Malware protection: 100%. Bitdefender detected and removed each of the 1,200 malware 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 Total Security Review: Updated for 2024

We recently revisited Bitdefender, focusing on its capabilities as a comprehensive internet security solution. Bitdefender has long been recognized for its effective protection, multitude of security features, and efficient use of system resources.

Anti-Malware

Bitdefender’s antivirus engine is remarkable, achieving a 100% malware protection score in our tests. It detected and removed all malware samples. Notably, Bitdefender doesn’t rely on traditional virus signature-based methods.

Its Advanced Threat Defense feature continuously monitors app behavior, blocking any app exhibiting suspicious activity such as code injection. This approach ensures excellent malware detection rates with minimal false positives. In our testing, Bitdefender was quick to detect the latest malware types.

Firewall

The firewall included with Bitdefender is adept at blocking both inbound and outbound connections on local networks and the internet. It also effectively detects and blocks port scans, a common technique used by hackers to identify open ports on devices.

VPN

Bitdefender offers a free VPN with a daily data limit of 200 MB, which is adequate for basic browsing but limited for streaming or extensive use. For unlimited data, users must upgrade to Bitdefender Premium VPN or Bitdefender Premium Security.

Using Aura’s VPN technology, Bitdefender’s VPN is fast and secure, featuring AES-256 encryption and HydraVPN protocol. Additional functionalities like auto-connect, a kill switch, and split tunneling are included.

Password Manager

Bitdefender’s password manager, sold separately or as part of the Bitdefender Premium Security package, is not included in the standard antivirus plans. This may be a consideration for users looking for an all-in-one solution.

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.

Bonus Features

Bitdefender comes packed with additional features, including anti-phishing protection, vulnerability scans, ransomware remediation, anti-spam tools, Safepay for secure online transactions, webcam and microphone protection, anti-tracker browser extensions, parental controls, anti-theft capabilities, and more.

Is Bitdefender the Best Internet Security Software of 2024?

Bitdefender stands out as one of the top internet security solutions in our testing, with its advanced anti-malware, firewall, VPN, and a wide range of additional features.

However, the separate pricing for the password manager and unlimited VPN can make it a more expensive choice if you need all the features. In comparison, Norton includes these features in its packages at no extra cost.

With a 30-day return policy, trying Bitdefender is risk-free, allowing users to assess its fit for their specific security needs. For those needing comprehensive protection with a variety of features, Bitdefender is certainly worth considering.

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 internet security software in 2024. It has perfect anti-malware 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.

  • Malware protection: 100%. Mcafee detected and removed each of the 1,200 malware 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 Total Protection Review: Updated for 2024

Our recent analysis of McAfee’s internet security software underscores its strength as a comprehensive security solution. McAfee has significantly enhanced its cybersecurity tools in recent years, making it a top choice in 2024.

Anti-Malware

McAfee has consistently achieved a 100% score in anti-malware tests since April 2020, according to AV-Test. In our testing, McAfee demonstrated robust protection against both offline and online threats, successfully detecting and removing all malware.

This efficacy is attributed to its advanced Scan Engine, which employs a combination of techniques including traditional virus scans, sandboxing for executing suspicious code, heuristic analysis for new threats, and cleaning infected files.

Firewall

The firewall provided by McAfee excels in filtering both incoming and outgoing traffic. Additionally, it effectively conceals open ports, thereby thwarting hacker attempts to exploit them using port scanning techniques.

VPN

McAfee’s Safe Connect VPN offers unlimited data and is included for free. It boasts commendable speed, strong security with AES-256 encryption, and privacy with a no-logs policy.

It supports streaming services like Netflix on many servers and allows torrenting. However, some features like a kill switch and split tunneling are not universally available across all operating systems.

Password Manager

McAfee’s True Key password manager is a standout feature, offering ease of use, accurate auto-filling, and biometric login options. It competes well with other top password managers in the market.

Prices & Packages

McAfee offers a range of packages, from McAfee Basic to McAfee+ Ultimate, with prices ranging from €30/$30 to €65/$80 (and $190 for the Ultimate plan in the USA).

These packages vary in the number of devices covered and the extent of features offered, with the higher-tier plans providing extensive privacy and identity protection features.

Bonus Features

Additional features in McAfee include a vulnerability scanner (Secure Apps), performance optimization tools (App Boost), anti-phishing browser extensions, tracker removal, ID Protection for dark web scanning, secure file deletion (File Shredder), encrypted file vaults (File Lock), anti-spam features, and parental controls (Safe Family).

Is McAfee the Best Internet Security Software of 2024?

McAfee stands out in our 2024 testing as one of the best internet security software options. Its combination of perfect virus protection scores, an excellent password manager, a comprehensive free VPN, and a user-friendly design makes it highly appealing.

The ability to protect an unlimited number of devices with its premium plans, along with extensive privacy and identity protection features, particularly in the USA, adds to its value.

McAfee’s 30-day return policy allows users to try the software risk-free, making it a strong recommendation for those seeking comprehensive, user-friendly internet security solutions.

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 internet security program in 2024. It has near-perfect anti-malware 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.

  • Malware protection: 99%. Panda detected and removed nearly all of the 1,200 malware 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 Review: Updated for 2024

In our updated review of Panda Dome for 2024, we focused on its capabilities as an internet security solution. Panda Dome offers a range of flexible pricing options, catering to various user needs.

Anti-Malware

Panda’s antivirus achieved a 99.9% score in real-world protection tests, an impressive feat. However, it exhibited a higher rate of false positives compared to its competitors, often misidentifying harmless software as malware.

This assessment is based on our tests and averages from AV-Comparatives since 2020. Panda employs big data, AI, and machine learning to counteract known malware and advanced threats like zero-day malware, ransomware, and API exploits.

Firewall

The firewall in Panda Dome is robust, filtering both incoming and outgoing connections. It automatically assigns permissions to applications based on their risk level, although users have the option to customize these settings.

VPN

Panda includes a VPN with its antivirus products, but it’s limited to 150 MB/day, which is relatively low for users with heavy internet usage. Using Aura’s technology, the VPN is fast, secure, and allows torrenting. However, it lacks some features like a kill switch, which might be a concern for certain users.

Password Manager

Panda’s password manager stands out for its ease of use, accurate auto-fill capabilities, and support for two-factor authentication and biometric login. The consistency in design across browser extensions and mobile apps enhances the user experience.

Prices & Packages

Panda Dome offers several packages, from the basic Essential to the more comprehensive Premium plan. Prices start from €17/$24 to €60/$67, and all plans can be upgraded to cover an unlimited number of devices.

Bonus Features

Additional features include safe browsing, a dark web scanner, PC cleanup tools, Wi-Fi protection, anti-theft for PCs, file encryption and shredding, and USB protection.

Is Panda the Best Internet Security Software of 2024?

Panda Dome is a strong contender in our 2024 internet security software tests. Its password manager and flexible pricing are particularly commendable.

However, when compared to Norton, which offers an unlimited VPN at a lower price and better protection for Macs and mobile devices, Panda falls slightly short. Nonetheless, for users primarily needing Windows PC protection, Panda’s internet security suites are an excellent choice.

Panda also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, making it a risk-free option for those wanting to explore its features.

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 internet security program in 2024. It has perfect anti-malware 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.

  • Malware protection: 100%. Avira detected and removed all of the 1,200 malware 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 Prime Review: Updated for 2024

In our latest evaluation of Avira for 2024, we focused on its efficacy as a comprehensive internet security solution. Avira stands out for its perfect protection score and offers great value, especially considering its effective free plan.

Anti-Malware

Our testing of Avira’s anti-malware tools yielded impressive results. Its cloud-based scanner efficiently identified all malware, maintaining system performance without any noticeable slowdown.

The Smart Scan feature is particularly noteworthy, extending beyond malware detection to flag privacy risks and system issues, making it suitable for both novices and tech-savvy users.

Firewall

Avira’s firewall is highly customizable, employing algorithmic rules to monitor data. Users have the flexibility to set specific rules for each application. Additionally, its intrusion prevention system effectively blocks unauthorized data extraction, adding an extra layer of security.

VPN

We evaluated Avira’s Phantom VPN and found it suitable for basic online activities, with only a 25-30% reduction in speed. It ensures strong security with 256-bit AES encryption and supports P2P file sharing. However, it did face challenges in bypassing geo-restrictions on streaming services.

Password Manager

Avira’s password manager is feature-rich, offering unlimited storage, even in its free version. It employs 256-bit AES encryption and two-factor authentication for enhanced security. One area for improvement is the browser extension, which currently lacks a password generator.

Bonus Features

In addition to its core security features, Avira includes a device optimizer that successfully freed up over 1GB of space in our tests. Other useful tools include a startup optimizer, driver updater, and game booster. The battery manager feature could benefit from enhancements like identifying power-draining applications.

Is Avira the Best Internet Security Software of 2024?

Avira Antivirus Prime emerges as a top-tier internet security solution, offering robust security features and a user-friendly design. With a 30-day return policy, it presents a risk-free opportunity for users to explore its capabilities.

For those looking for alternatives with additional features like parental controls, Norton 360 Deluxe is a similarly priced option worth considering.

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
  • 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 internet security software 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 internet security software

What is internet security software and why do I need it?

Internet security software is a specialized program designed to protect computers and devices from a wide range of online threats, such as viruses, malware, ransomware, and phishing attacks. The need for such software arises from the ever-increasing sophistication of cyber threats that can compromise personal data, financial information, and the overall integrity of your system.

Internet security software acts as a defense mechanism, safeguarding your digital life by detecting and blocking malicious activities. It ensures safe browsing, secures online transactions, and protects your privacy. In an era where cybercrime is rampant, having reliable internet security software is not just recommended, it’s essential for anyone using the internet.

For more, read our blog post on what internet security software is.

How does internet security software protect my computer?

Internet security software employs multiple layers of protection to secure your computer. Key features include:

  • Antivirus Protection: Scans files and programs to detect and remove malicious code.
  • Firewall: Monitors network traffic to block unauthorized access to your computer.
  • Anti-Phishing: Identifies and blocks fake websites trying to steal personal information.
  • Real-Time Protection: Constantly monitors the system for unusual activities signaling the presence of new threats.
  • Safe Browsing: Warns against potentially dangerous websites.
  • Email Protection: Filters out spam and malicious email attachments.

These combined measures ensure comprehensive protection against various cyber threats.

For more, read our blog post on what internet security software is.

Will internet security software slow down my computer?

Modern internet security software is designed to be efficient and have minimal impact on system performance. However, the extent of impact can vary based on factors like the software’s resource requirements, your computer’s specifications, and how the software is configured. High-end systems generally experience negligible slowdown, while older systems might see a more noticeable impact. Opting for lightweight security solutions and ensuring your system meets the software’s requirements can mitigate potential slowdowns.

Can internet security software remove existing viruses?

Yes, most internet security software can detect and remove existing viruses from your PC. They come equipped with tools to identify and eliminate various types of malware, including viruses already present in the system. In severe cases, some software also offers specialized tools like boot-time scans or rescue disks to deal with deeply embedded threats.

Can internet security software protect my mobile devices?

Absolutely. Many internet security software providers offer solutions specifically designed for mobile devices, compatible with both Android and iOS platforms. These mobile versions typically include features like virus scans, app privacy ratings, anti-theft tools, and even call and SMS filtering, catering to the unique security needs of mobile devices.

What should I do if my internet security detects malware?

If your internet security software detects a virus or malware:

  • Don’t Panic: Remain calm; the detection means the software is doing its job.
  • Quarantine or Delete: Follow the software’s recommendation to quarantine or delete the infected file.
  • Full System Scan: Conduct a full system scan to check for other infections.
  • Update Software: Ensure your security software and operating system are up to date.
  • Change Passwords: If sensitive information was at risk, consider changing your passwords.
  • Stay Informed: Regularly check for updates from your software provider for new threats and protection advice.

Taking these steps will help you effectively handle and recover from a security threat.

What are the most common types of cyber threats today?

The most common types of cyber threats today include:

  • Viruses and Worms: Malicious programs that spread from device to device, corrupting files or systems.
  • Ransomware: Malware that encrypts a user’s data and demands payment for the decryption key.
  • Phishing Attacks: Deceptive emails or messages designed to trick users into revealing sensitive information.
  • Spyware: Software that secretly gathers user information without consent.
  • Trojans: Malware disguised as legitimate software, used to gain unauthorized access to a system.
  • Adware: Unwanted software that displays or downloads advertising material.
  • DDoS Attacks: Overwhelming a system or network with traffic to make it unavailable to its users.
  • Zero-Day Exploits: Attacks targeting software vulnerabilities unknown to the vendor.

Understanding these threats is crucial in recognizing and protecting against them.

What threats can and can’t internet security protect me from?

Internet security software can protect from:

  • Viruses, Worms, and Trojans: By detecting and removing them.
  • Ransomware: By preventing unauthorized encryption of files.
  • Phishing: Through anti-phishing tools and safe browsing features.
  • Spyware and Adware: By identifying and eliminating them.

However, it might not protect against:

  • Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs): Highly sophisticated, long-term targeted attacks.
  • Physical Theft or Loss: Physical device security isn’t typically covered.
  • User Error: Such as sharing passwords or sensitive information.
  • New Zero-Day Exploits: Until the vulnerability is known and a patch is released.

Staying vigilant and informed, in addition to using security software, is key to comprehensive protection.

How do I choose the best internet security software for me?

To choose the best internet security software:

  • Assess Your Needs: Consider the level of protection you need based on your online activities.
  • Features: Look for essential features like antivirus, anti-malware, firewall, and anti-phishing.
  • Performance Impact: Ensure the software doesn’t significantly slow down your system.
  • Usability: Choose software with an intuitive interface and easy navigation.
  • Compatibility: Check that it’s compatible with your operating system and other software.
  • Reputation and Reviews: Research user reviews and expert opinions.
  • Cost vs. Benefit: Balance the cost of the software with the level of protection it offers.
  • Trial Versions: Test with free trials to gauge performance and usability.

Careful consideration of these factors will lead to an informed decision.

Is free internet security software reliable enough?

Free internet security software can provide a basic level of protection and is generally reliable for fundamental defense against common threats like viruses and malware. However, they often lack advanced features such as a comprehensive firewall, anti-phishing, and ransomware protection. For users with more significant security needs or those handling sensitive information, investing in a paid version with comprehensive protection and support is advisable.

Does the internet security come with customer support?

Most reputable internet security software comes with customer support. The extent and quality of support can vary, ranging from online resources like FAQs and forums to live chat, email support, and in some cases, phone support. Premium versions often offer more extensive support options compared to free versions. When selecting software, consider the quality of customer support, especially if you’re not particularly tech-savvy or anticipate needing assistance with the software.

Advanced questions about internet security software

How do we test internet security software?

At SoftwareLab, we are committed to delivering comprehensive and unbiased reviews of internet security 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 protection (30%)

  • As the core function of internet security software, we prioritize anti-malware 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 internet security 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 internet security 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-malware work?

Anti-malware software works by scanning your computer for malicious programs (malware) and preventing, detecting, and removing them. It typically operates in the following ways:

  • Signature-Based Detection: Identifies malware based on known patterns or ‘signatures’.
  • Heuristic Analysis: Detects new, unknown malware by examining code behavior and characteristics.
  • Behavior-Based Detection: Monitors program behavior in real-time to identify suspicious activities.
  • Sandboxing: Runs programs in a separate environment to analyze behavior without affecting the system.
  • Machine Learning and AI: Uses advanced algorithms to detect and learn from new threats.

 

What is signature-based detection?

Signature-based detection is a method used by anti-malware software to identify malware. It involves comparing the digital signature (a unique string of data) of known malware samples against files on your computer. If a match is found, the file is flagged as malicious. This method is highly effective for detecting known threats but can miss new malware that hasn’t yet been cataloged.

What is heuristic analysis?

Heuristic analysis is a technique used to detect new, unknown, or variant malware that signature-based detection can’t catch. It examines the code or behavior of a program to identify suspicious characteristics, using algorithms to determine the likelihood of a file being malicious based on known malware attributes. Heuristic analysis is more adaptable to emerging threats but can result in more false positives.

What is behavior-based detection?

Behavior-based detection focuses on the behavior of software rather than its code. It monitors programs in real-time for activities typical of malware, such as unauthorized data transmission, unexpected system changes, or attempts to hide its presence. If suspicious behavior is detected, the software takes action. This method is effective against malware that can disguise its code.

What is machine learning within cybersecurity?

Machine Learning in cybersecurity involves using algorithms to analyze and learn from data to identify threats. These systems can adapt to new and evolving cyber threats more quickly than traditional methods. Machine learning algorithms analyze patterns and anomalies in large datasets, improving over time to predict and prevent attacks with greater accuracy.

What is cloud-based antivirus?

Cloud-based internet security refers to security services that are delivered over the internet and do not require traditional on-premise hardware and software. It offers real-time threat intelligence updates, scalable resources, and data storage capabilities. This approach enables quicker response to threats, reduced system resource usage, and access to advanced security tools.

What is sandboxing within cybersecurity?

Sandboxing in cybersecurity is a security technique where a separate, isolated environment (a “sandbox”) is used to run and analyze untrusted programs or code. This ensures that any potential malware within the code cannot affect the actual system or network. It’s a proactive approach to identify and analyze new malware types without risking system integrity.

What are false positives within cybersecurity?

False positives in cybersecurity occur when a security system incorrectly identifies a benign activity or file as malicious. This can happen in any type of detection mechanism but is more common in heuristic and behavior-based detection. While false positives can be inconvenient, leading to unnecessary alerts and potential disruptions, they are generally preferable over false negatives, where actual threats are missed.

How does internet security software handle zero-day threats?

Internet security software addresses zero-day threats through a combination of techniques:

  • Heuristic Analysis: By analyzing behavior and code characteristics, it can identify suspicious activities even in the absence of known signatures.
  • Behavior-Based Detection: It monitors for unusual behavior patterns, which may indicate a zero-day threat.
  • Machine Learning: Utilizing machine learning algorithms, it learns and adapts to emerging threats.
  • Cloud-Based Threat Intelligence: Some software relies on cloud databases to quickly identify and respond to new threats.
  • Automatic Updates: Frequent updates ensure that the software has the latest threat definitions and protection mechanisms.

These measures collectively aim to detect and mitigate zero-day threats as soon as possible.

How does a firewall work?

A firewall is a network security device or software that monitors and controls incoming and outgoing network traffic based on predetermined security rules. It operates at the network level and can work in two ways:

  • Packet Filtering: Examines data packets and allows or blocks them based on predefined criteria, such as IP addresses, ports, and protocols.
  • Stateful Inspection: Keeps track of the state of active connections and makes decisions based on the context of the traffic, providing a higher level of security.

Firewalls prevent unauthorized access to your network, acting as a barrier between your computer and potential threats from the internet.

How does a password manager work?

A password manager is a tool that simplifies the management of passwords. It works as follows:

  • Password Storage: It securely stores your login credentials (usernames and passwords) in an encrypted database.
  • Password Generation: It can generate strong, unique passwords for each of your accounts.
  • Autofill: Automatically fills in login forms on websites and apps.
  • Secure Sync: Some password managers offer secure synchronization across multiple devices.
  • Master Password: You create and remember one master password to access the password manager.

By centralizing and encrypting your passwords, password managers enhance security and convenience while reducing the risk of password-related vulnerabilities.

How does a VPN work?

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) creates a secure, encrypted tunnel between your device and a remote server. Here’s how it works:

  • Encryption: When you connect to a VPN, your data is encrypted before it leaves your device.
  • Tunneling: Encrypted data is transmitted through the secure tunnel to a VPN server.
  • Server Connection: The VPN server decrypts your data and forwards it to the destination (website, server, etc.).
  • Masking IP: Your real IP address is hidden, and the server’s IP is used, enhancing privacy.
  • Anonymity: Your online activity appears to originate from the server’s location, making it harder to trace.

VPNs provide privacy, security, and can help bypass geo-restrictions and censorship.

How does anti-phishing work?

Anti-phishing mechanisms in internet security software protect against phishing attacks by:

  • URL Analysis: Scanning websites for known phishing indicators like misleading URLs or suspicious domains.
  • Email Filtering: Identifying and blocking phishing emails based on sender reputation, content analysis, and known phishing patterns.
  • Real-Time Checks: Conducting real-time checks on websites and emails to spot phishing attempts as they happen.
  • Educational Alerts: Providing users with warnings and information about potential phishing threats.

Anti-phishing measures aim to prevent users from falling victim to deceptive websites and emails designed to steal sensitive information.

How does ransomware protection work?

Ransomware protection in internet security software works by:

  • Behavior Analysis: Monitoring for unusual file encryption behavior.
  • Heuristic Scanning: Detecting ransomware based on behavioral patterns.
  • Backup Systems: Creating regular backups of important files to facilitate recovery.
  • Real-Time Protection: Blocking suspicious processes attempting to encrypt files.
  • Automatic Recovery: Some software can automatically restore encrypted files.
  • Safe Browsing: Identifying and blocking access to known malicious websites distributing ransomware.

Ransomware protection aims to prevent ransomware attacks and minimize damage if an attack occurs.

How does identity theft protection work?

Identity theft protection services monitor your personal information across various data sources, including:

  • Credit Monitoring: Checking your credit reports for unusual activity or new accounts opened in your name.
  • Dark Web Scanning: Scouring the dark web for any instances of your personal information being sold.
  • Social Security Number Monitoring: Tracking your SSN usage to detect fraudulent activities.
  • Financial Account Alerts: Notifying you of suspicious transactions or changes to your financial accounts.
  • Data Breach Notifications: Informing you if your data is compromised in a known data breach.

Identity theft protection aims to detect and alert you to potential identity theft threats early, allowing you to take action to prevent further damage.

How do parental controls work?

Parental control software or features allow parents to monitor and restrict their children’s online activities. They work by:

  • Content Filtering: Blocking or allowing access to websites and content based on predefined categories or custom rules.
  • Time Limits: Setting time restrictions for internet usage.
  • App and Game Restrictions: Managing access to specific applications or games.
  • Activity Monitoring: Tracking online activity, including websites visited and search queries.
  • Remote Management: Parents can often manage and monitor these controls remotely.

Parental controls are a valuable tool for ensuring a safe and age-appropriate online environment for children.

Other questions

What internet security software have we tested?

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

These are the programs we recommend:

We believe that Norton Antivirus Plus is the best entry-level antivirus software and Norton 360 Deluxe the best antivirus 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.