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The 5 Best Internet Security for Windows 11 (2023 Update)

By Tibor Moes / Updated: September 2023

Do you need internet security software? Yes, you do. Here’s why:

  • First, cyber threats are increasingly sophisticated, and a basic antivirus is no longer sufficient.
  • Next, your personal information is valuable; from bank details to family photos, it’s all worth protecting.
  • Finally, we spend a significant chunk of our lives online, from shopping to banking, socializing to working.

By buying the best internet security software, you will not only guard against malicious attacks but also ensure that your personal data remains confidential. You’ll navigate the digital world with the peace of mind that you’re protected. After all, internet safety is a necessity, not a luxury in today’s interconnected era.

Norton is the best internet security for Windows 11 of 2023


Ranked #1 of 28 antivirus

  • Malware Protection 100% 100%
  • Speed Impact 100% 100%

Norton has the best protection, excellent privacy features, and a great price. It’s the best internet security for Windows 11.

  • Malware protection: 100%. In the last 10 tests, Norton removed all malware. It will protect you against all threats.
  • Speed impact: 100%. In the last 10 tests, Norton had no impact on the speed of the test PC. It will not slow you down.
  • Features: 100%. Anti-phishing, firewall, VPN, password manager, identity protection, cloud backup, and more.

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

Bitdefender is the second best internet security software for Windows 11 of 2023


Ranked #2 of 28 antivirus

  • Malware Protection 95% 95%
  • Speed Impact 100% 100%

Bitdefender offers excellent protection and bonus features. However, it’s expensive if you want the VPN and password manager.

  • Malware protection: 95%. In the last 10 tests, Bitdefender removed nearly all malware. It offers great protection.
  • Speed impact: 100%. In the last 10 tests, It had no impact on the speed of the test PC. It will not slow you down.
  • Features: 95%. Anti-phishing, firewall, and more. But the VPN and password manager cost extra.

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

The best internet security for Windows 11

We have reviewed security software since 2014. Based on our in-depth tests of 28 brands in 2023, these are the best internet security for Windows 11:

  1. 🥇 Norton Antivirus – The #1 in 2023
  2. Bitdefender Antivirus
  3. McAfee Antivirus
  4. Panda Antivirus
  5. Kaspersky Antivirus

We have tested their anti-malware protection, security features, speed impact, false positives, and price. Scroll down to read the in-depth reviews.

Norton Antivirus Review

Norton Review

Ranked #1 out of 28 brands

Norton Antivirus on Windows 11


Norton has the best device, privacy, and identity protection. It has all the security features you need and a great price too.

  • Malware protection: 100%. Norton averaged 6 out of 6 in the last 10 protection tests. It is excellent at detecting and removing malware.
  • Speed impact: 100%. Norton averaged 6 out of 6 in the last 10 performance tests. It does not slow down your PC.
  • Features: 100%. Norton offers anti-malware, anti-phishing, firewall, unlimited VPN, password manager, parental controls, and more.
  • Price: 95%. Norton offers better value for money than all competitors, except for Kaspersky, which is slightly cheaper.

Discount: Temporarily save up to 70% 🔥

Norton 360 Antivirus Review

Norton offers the best antivirus protection on all operating systems.


Norton is one of the few brands with a 100% malware protection score. Its real-time malware protection tool, called SONAR, is the best.

To get to this score, we averaged the last 10 test scores 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 the software on your computer makes suspicious outgoing connections to other devices.

And that’s not all. Norton’s firewall also cloaks inactive ports, so 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.

Password Manager

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 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 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.

In some countries, Norton 360 Advanced is called Norton 360 Premium. This is essentially the same product, without identity theft protection.

Bonus Features

  • 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.

Conclusion: Is Norton the best internet security for Windows 11?

Yes, Norton is the best internet security program in our test.

Modern security software needs to offer far more than just anti-malware protection. By combining device security, online privacy, and identity theft protection, Norton is the best internet security suite you can buy.

You can try Norton risk-free, thanks to its 60-day return policy.

Bitdefender Antivirus Review

Bitdefender Review

Ranked #2 out of 28 brands

Bitdefender Antivirus on Windows 11


Bitdefender offers excellent protection and bonus features. However, it’s pricey if you want the VPN and password manager.

  • Malware protection: 95%. Bitdefender averaged 5.95 out of 6 in the last 10 protection tests. It is excellent at removing malware.
  • Speed impact: 100%. Bitdefender averaged 6 out of 6 in the last 10 performance tests. It does not slow down your PC.
  • Features: 95%. It offers anti-malware, anti-phishing, firewall, parental controls, and more. But the VPN and password manager cost extra.
  • Price: 75%. If you only want the antivirus, Bitdefender offers great value. But if you want all features, Norton offers a better deal.

Discount: Save 50% on this secret page

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 95% malware protection score. This is the average of the 10 most recent protection tests by AV-Test. It puts Bitdefender ahead of all competitors, except Norton, McAfee, and Kaspersky.

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.

Password Manager

Bitdefender’s password manager is sold separately. It is not included with Bitdefender Antivirus Plus, Internet Security, or Total Security. To get it, you have to buy it separately or buy Bitdefender Premium Security.

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.

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.

Bonus Features

  • 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.

Conclusion: Is Bitdefender the best internet security for Windows 11?

Bitdefender is one of the best internet security software in our test. Its anti-malware, firewall, password manager, and VPN are highly advanced. On top of that, there are tons of extra features.

However, Bitdefender can be expensive. It sells its password manager and unlimited VPN separately or as part of its Premium Security suite. This makes it pricey if you want all security features.

By contrast, Norton includes these features for free.

You can try Bitdefender risk-free, thanks to its 30-day return policy.

McAfee Antivirus Review

McAfee Review

Ranked #3 out of 28 brands

McAfee Antivirus on Windows 11


McAfee offers excellent device, privacy, and identity protection. However, some features are only available in the USA.

  • Malware protection: 100%. McAfee averaged 6 out of 6 in the last 10 protection tests. It is excellent at detecting and removing malware.
  • Speed impact: 85%. McAfee averaged 5.85 out of 6 in the last 10 performance tests. So it has a minimal impact on your PC’s speed.
  • Features: 100%. McAfee offers anti-malware, anti-phishing, firewall, unlimited VPN, password manager, parental controls, and more.
  • Price: 95%. McAfee offers better value for money than most competitors, except Kaspersky, which is slightly cheaper.

Discount: Save 70% on this secret page

McAfee Antivirus Review

McAfee allows you to protect an unlimited number of devices.


McAfee is among the few brands with a 100% anti-malware test score. It has improved its cybersecurity tools a lot in recent years. Since April 2020, it has achieved a perfect 100% score in every protection test by AV-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, Safe Connect, is free and offers unlimited data. It’s fast, secure (AES-256), private (no activity logs), has servers in 45 countries, works with Netflix on many servers, and allows torrenting.

However, it’s not perfect. For instance, not all security features (like the kill switch and split tunnel) are available on all operating systems. And if you turn off auto-renew, the VPN is limited to 500 MB / day.

Password Manager

McAfee’s cross-platform password manager, True Key, 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 Basic costs € 30 (Europe) or $ 30 (USA). It offers antivirus, anti-phishing, firewall, password manager, and VPN. It protects 1 device.
  • McAfee Essential (called McAfee Plus in Europe) costs € 40 (Europe) or $ 40 (USA). It adds no additional features but protects 5 devices.
  • McAfee+ Premium costs € 45 (Europe) or $ 45 (USA). It adds a personal data cleanup and protects unlimited devices.
  • McAfee+ Advanced costs € 65 (Europe) or $ 80 (USA). It adds identity theft protection and protects unlimited devices.
  • McAfee+ Ultimate costs $ 190 (USA) and is not sold in Europe. It adds more identity theft protection features and protects unlimited devices.

McAfee is in the process of renaming its products. So in some countries, you’ll be shown McAfee Total Protection instead, which has the same features as McAfee Basic and Essential.

Bonus Features

  • 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.

Conclusion: Is McAfee the best internet security for Windows 11?

McAfee is one of the best internet security software in our test. Its virus protection gets perfect scores, its password manager is excellent, its unlimited VPN is included for free, and its design is both user-friendly and beautiful.

On top of that, its premium and advanced plans allow you to protect an unlimited number of devices and offer extensive privacy and identity protection features, especially in the United States.

You can try McAfee risk-free, thanks to its 30-day return policy.

Panda Antivirus Review

Panda Review

Ranked #4 out of 28 Antivirus

Panda Antivirus on Windows 11


Panda offers excellent protection and has flexible pricing. However, it’s expensive if you want the unlimited VPN.

  • Malware protection: 99%. Panda averaged 99.9% in the malware protection tests. It is excellent at detecting and removing malware.
  • Speed impact: 99%. Panda averaged 99% in the performance tests. So it has almost no impact on your PC’s speed.
  • Features: 100%. Panda offers anti-malware, anti-phishing, firewall, unlimited VPN, password manager, parental controls, and more.
  • Price: 75%. Panda offers the most flexible pricing of all brands. But, if you want all the security features, Norton is more affordable.

Discount: Save 50% on this secret page

Panda Dome Antivirus Review

Panda offers the most flexible pricing for its antivirus packages.


Panda antivirus scored 99.9% in the real-world protection tests. However, it does have with a higher number of false positives than its competitors, which means that it frequently mistakes harmless software for malware.

This result is the average of all tests by AV-Comparatives since 2020. Usually, we quote AV-Test, another independent test lab. However, Panda does not take part in their tests. Both labs independently test the malware scanning capabilities of free and premium antivirus programs.

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.

Password Manager

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 (Europe) or $ 24 (USA). It offers antivirus and a firewall.
  • Panda Dome Advanced starts at € 23 (Europe) or $ 28 (USA). It adds anti-phishing and parental controls.
  • Panda Dome Complete starts at € 35 (Europe) or $ 43 (USA). It adds a password manager and system optimizer.
  • Panda Dome Premium starts at € 60 (Europe) or $ 67 (USA). It adds an unlimited VPN and update manager.

All of Panda’s plans can be upscaled to an unlimited number of devices.

Bonus 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.

Conclusion: Is Panda the best antivirus for Windows 11?

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

Kaspersky Review

Ranked #5 out of 28 Antivirus

Kaspersky Antivirus on Windows 11


Kaspersky has excellent protection at a low price. But the war in Ukraine raises concerns about its ties to the Russian government.

  • Malware protection: 100%. Kaspersky averaged 6 out of 6 in the last 10 protection tests. It is excellent at removing malware.
  • Speed impact: 100%. Kasperksy averaged 6 out of 6 in the last 10 performance tests. So it does not slow down your PC.
  • Features: 100%. Kaspersky has anti-malware, anti-phishing, firewall, unlimited VPN, password manager, parental controls, and more.
  • Price: 100%. Kaspersky Plus is the most affordable way to protect a Windows PC with all essential features, including an unlimited VPN.

Discount: Save up to 50%

Kaspersky Anti-Virus Review

Kaspersky offers exceptional online security at a low price.


Kaspersky antivirus has a 100% 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 and McAfee.

It can offer such excellent malware protection through its triple-layer protection system:

  • Locate vulnerabilities and threats proactively 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.


Kaspersky includes an unlimited VPN for free with Plus and Premium.

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.

Password Manager

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 Standard starts at € 20 (Europe) or $ 28 (USA). It offers antivirus, anti-phishing, and a firewall. It protects 1 to 5 devices.
  • Kaspersky Plus starts at € 26 (Europe) or $ 37 (USA). It adds a firewall and an unlimited VPN. It protects 1 to 5 devices.
  • Kaspersky Premium starts at € 32 (Europe) or $ 48 (USA). It adds identity protection and parental controls. It protects 1 to 20 devices.

Kaspersky has replaced the old product names Kaspersky Anti-Virus, Internet Security, and Total Security, with Standard, Plus, and Premium.

Bonus Features

  • 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.

Conclusion: Is Kaspersky the best internet security for Windows 11?

Kaspersky offers excellent internet security protection. Its anti-malware is industry-leading, its firewall and password manager are excellent, and it provides a wide range of extra features.

However, its VPN privacy policy is disappointing. A VPN is a privacy product and shouldn’t be used for marketing. On top of that, Kaspersky struggles with the tensions between the West and Russia, due to the war in Ukraine.

Therefore, we prefer Norton, which includes an unlimited VPN for free in its antivirus suite, doesn’t track what you do online, and isn’t caught up in a geopolitical struggle.

You can try Kaspersky risk-free, thanks to its 30-day return policy.

Specification comparison

Below, we compare the following products:

  • Norton 360 Standard
  • Bitdefender Internet Security with the Premium VPN
  • McAfee Basic
  • Panda Dome Premium
  • Kaspersky Plus

These represent each brand’s most cost-effective options, providing protection for at least one PC with vital features: Anti-Malware, Anti-Phishing (Web Protection), Firewall, Password Manager, and Unlimited VPN (unrestricted data).

#1 of 20
#2 of 20
#3 of 20
#4 of 20
#5 of 20
Speed impact
1st year price
$ 39.99 / year
$ 54.99 / year
$ 29.99 / year
$ 66.99 / year
$ 36.99 / year
2nd year price
$ 89.99 / year
$ 129.99 / year
$ 89.99 / year
$ 133.99 / year
$ 75.99 / year
Operating software
Windows, Mac, Android, iOS
Windows, Mac, Android, iOS
Windows, Mac, Android, iOS
Windows, Mac, Android, iOS
Money back
60 days
30 days
30 days
30 days
30 days



Password manager

Unlimited VPN

Test score comparison

Our comparison includes the latest ten test scores for all antivirus brands, conducted by the renowned German anti-malware test lab, AV-Test. They use three criteria:

  • Protection (1-6): Antivirus protection against malware attacks.
  • Performance (1-6): System slowdown caused by the antivirus.
  • Usability (1-6): Frequency of false alarms and disruptions.

We used their results, and this formula, to calculate the final score:

Final Score = 60% Protection + 20% Performance + 20% Usability.

Brands not found in the table did not partake in AV-Test’s analysis, typically a red flag. All reputable brands, with exceptions such as Panda, ESET, and Sophos, usually participate in these tests.

Final Score

Price comparison

We’ve evaluated the prices of leading antivirus products for Windows. To ensure fair comparison, we considered the cost of safeguarding a Windows PC with the following essential features:

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

A few notes:

  • Some brands are missing features, lowering their value for money.
  • Prices are second-year prices in the USA, without first-year discounts.
  • Prices are rounded up for readability (e.g., $99.99 becomes $100). 

Brands may vary their prices outside the USA. Refer to their websites for specific information.

Total price
Missing features
$ 60
No firewall and password manager
$ 65
No firewall, password manager, and VPN
$ 90
$ 90
No firewall
$ 100
$ 130
No password manager
$ 179
No firewall

User reviews

We’ve evaluated user reviews of all antivirus brands, using scores and review counts from TrustPilot, a premier user review platform. However, interpret these results cautiously as some brands may manipulate their ratings.

We approach extremely high scores with skepticism, especially from brands like TotalAV, notorious for assertive marketing and sales strategies.

We deem scores between 4.0 and 4.5 to be good and realistic. Higher scores raise doubts, and lower scores suggest that the brand may offer subpar products or customer service. For example, McAfee’s scores are cause for concern.

Review score
Review count

What is internet security software?

Internet security software is a comprehensive suite of tools designed to protect users and their devices from a wide range of online threats. These threats can range from malicious software (malware) such as viruses, worms, and spyware, to more sophisticated cyber threats like phishing, ransomware, and identity theft.

Internet security software often goes beyond standard antivirus protection to include additional features such as firewalls, anti-phishing tools, password managers, and virtual private network (VPN) services, providing a robust defense against the diverse risks of the digital world.

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

How does internet security software work?

Internet security software employs several methods to keep users and their data safe. These methods analyze potential threats and either block or remove them before they can cause harm. Here are three common detection techniques:

Signature-based detection

Signature-based detection is one of the oldest yet most reliable methods of identifying known threats. Every piece of malware has a unique string of code, known as its ‘signature’. Internet security software maintains a vast database of these known signatures. When you download or interact with a file, the software scans it, comparing it against this database.

If a match is found, the software either quarantines or deletes the file, thus neutralizing the threat.

Heuristic analysis

While signature-based detection is great for known threats, new, unseen malware, often called ‘zero-day threats’, requires a more proactive approach. This is where heuristic analysis comes into play. Rather than looking for known signatures, heuristic analysis examines the file’s behavior or structure for suspicious activities.

It can identify new strains of malware by spotting typical malicious behaviors or structures, making it an essential line of defense against evolving cyber threats.

Behavior-based detection

Also known as behavioral analysis, this method takes a similar approach to heuristic analysis but focuses more on the actual behavior of software within your system. It monitors for unusual actions, such as changes to system settings, unauthorized access to sensitive data, or unexpected network connections, which might suggest a malware attack.

When such behavior is detected, the suspect file or process is flagged, allowing the software or the user to take appropriate action. This method is particularly useful against trojans and ransomware, which often display abnormal behavior patterns.

For more, read our blog post on how antivirus software works.

What’s the difference between internet security and antivirus?

While the terms “internet security” and “antivirus” are often used interchangeably, they represent different levels of protection in the context of cybersecurity.

At its core, antivirus software serves as your first line of defense against malware (malicious software), including viruses, worms, trojans, and spyware. It primarily uses signature-based detection to identify known threats, and heuristic analysis to detect previously unseen, or zero-day, threats. Antivirus software scans your files and folders, ensuring no malicious software can infiltrate your system and cause harm.

On the other hand, Internet security suites provide a more holistic approach to your digital safety. In addition to all the features offered by antivirus software, internet security suites come packed with a variety of other protective tools. These may include a personal firewall to monitor incoming and outgoing network traffic, an anti-spam tool to keep unwanted emails at bay, parental controls for safe browsing for kids, and anti-phishing tools to protect you from fraudulent websites.

Moreover, some internet security packages offer privacy features, such as a Virtual Private Network (VPN) for secure browsing, a password manager to securely store and manage your online credentials, and file encryption tools to protect sensitive data.

In essence, while antivirus is a component of internet security, focusing primarily on guarding against malicious software, internet security provides a comprehensive suite of tools that aim to safeguard various aspects of your digital life. Therefore, if you require a broad, multi-layered shield against a wider spectrum of threats – not just malware – an internet security package would be the better choice.

For more, read our blog post on the difference between internet security and antivirus software.

How do we test internet security software?

Our testing methodology for internet security software is robust, encompassing six key areas with different weighting for each:

  • Anti-malware protection (30%)
  • Security and privacy features (30%)
  • Speed impact (10%)
  • False positives (10%)
  • Price (10%)
  • Ownership and reputation (10%)

This weighted approach ensures that we prioritize the elements that most significantly impact your security and user experience.

Anti-malware protection (30%)

We place a significant emphasis on anti-malware protection, accounting for 30% of our total evaluation. Our approach is twofold, involving both in-house testing and analysis of AV-Test results.

In-house testing

In our custom test environment, we expose the test PC to hundreds of malware samples through a USB drive to evaluate the malware scanner’s efficiency and comprehensiveness. We aim to see whether it can identify and neutralize all the threats accurately.

In a separate experiment, we create a real-world scenario by executing malware files and launching ransomware attacks. The goal is to evaluate the strength of the real-time protection — how quickly and effectively the security software responds to these active threats. It’s crucial for any internet security suite to stop such assaults instantly, preventing any potential damage.

AV-Test results

Alongside our proprietary testing, we also carefully examine the protection test results provided by AV-Test, an independent IT security institute. They run comprehensive evaluations on Windows, Mac, and Android platforms, providing an additional layer of insight and validation.

Their results give us a more holistic understanding of how each internet security software performs across different operating systems and against a range of malware types, helping us deliver a more comprehensive and reliable verdict.

Security and privacy features (30%)

The range and quality of security and privacy features within a suite make up another 30% of our evaluation. Each tool plays a vital role in keeping you safe online, and we assess how well each function performs. Here’s a look at each feature we test:

Web protection (anti-phishing)

Anti-phishing or web protection tools shield you from deceptive websites that seek to steal sensitive data like login credentials or credit card information. We test these features by trying to access known phishing websites, evaluating whether the suite can effectively block them and alert us about the danger.


Firewalls monitor network traffic, blocking unauthorized access to your device. We test this by attempting to penetrate the protected system with common network-based attacks, assessing the robustness of the firewall.

Password manager

Password managers securely store and autofill your passwords. To test these, we evaluate how easily they can generate, retrieve, and autofill strong passwords. We also assess the security measures in place to protect your stored passwords.

Virtual private network (VPN)

VPNs encrypt your internet connection, ensuring your online activities remain private. We test the software’s VPN for speed, data limits, server availability, and its ability to bypass geo-restrictions.

Parental controls

Parental controls help maintain a safe online environment for children. We assess the effectiveness of these controls, testing their ability to block inappropriate content, limit screen time, and monitor social media activity.

Identity theft protection

Identity theft protection tools alert you if your personal information appears in places it shouldn’t, such as on the dark web. We evaluate these features based on their monitoring capabilities, recovery assistance, and insurance coverage.

Secure cloud storage (cloud backup)

Secure cloud storage allows for safe, off-site data backup. We assess the storage space offered, ease of use, and the security measures in place to protect your data.


Anti-ransomware tools prevent malicious software from encrypting your files and demanding a ransom. We test this feature by attempting to launch ransomware attacks on the test system, checking if the suite can thwart the attack.

Dark web monitoring

Dark web monitoring tools scan the dark web for your personal information that may have been exposed in data breaches. To test this feature, we evaluate the breadth of monitoring and the timeliness of alerts provided when a potential exposure is detected.

Bonus features

An antivirus program can come with various entry-level functions, such as spam filters and secure browsers, and premium options like online storage with enhanced security. We consider the following bonus features worthy of your consideration:

  • Ad Blocker
  • Anti-theft
  • Email protection
  • File encryption
  • File shredder
  • Gaming mode
  • Microphone protection
  • PC maintenance features
  • Secure browser (hardened browser to protect your online banking)
  • Spam filter
  • Startup optimizer
  • Tune up tools
  • Virtual keyboard
  • Webcam protection

Speed impact (10%)

The performance impact of a security suite on a system is another critical factor we consider. A high-quality internet security software shouldn’t significantly slow down your device.

To evaluate this, we rely on AV-Test’s performance tests. These tests assess the impact of the software on computer speed while performing common tasks like visiting websites, downloading files, installing and running programs, and copying data. A lower impact score indicates a minimal performance hit, ensuring you can work or play on your device without frustrating delays.

False positives (10%)

False positives—innocuous files mistakenly flagged as threats—can be disruptive and lead to potential security risks if essential files are quarantined.

We use AV-Test’s usability tests to guide our analysis in this area. These tests evaluate the frequency of false alarms during the software’s operation, including during scans, file operations, and software installations. A lower false-positive rate is indicative of a more accurate detection system, minimizing unnecessary disruptions for the user.

Price (10%)

The cost of the internet security software also plays a part in our evaluation. However, we’re not just interested in the cheapest option; instead, we focus on value for money, considering what each package offers for its price point.

It’s worth noting that there can be substantial differences between first-year and subsequent-year prices, as many companies offer heavy discounts for the initial subscription period. We factor in these pricing strategies in our assessment to ensure you’re aware of the long-term cost of your chosen software.

Ownership and reputation (10%)

The company behind the product is as crucial as the product itself. Not all companies uphold the same ethical standards, which can directly impact the quality and trustworthiness of their products.

For example, Avast faced a scandal where they were found to be selling user data through a subsidiary called Jumpshot. Incidents like this significantly damage a company’s reputation and trustworthiness.

Hence, we carefully consider the ownership, history, and standing of each company when evaluating internet security software. Our goal is to recommend products from companies that not only provide excellent solutions but also respect user privacy and uphold strong ethical standards.

For more, read our blog post on how we test antivirus software.

How to choose the best internet security software?

When it comes to choosing the best internet security software, there are multiple elements to consider. Each component plays a crucial role in providing comprehensive protection, ease of use, and value for your money. Here’s a breakdown of the critical factors you should consider:

Reliable protection from malware

Above all, the primary role of an antivirus solution is to protect your system from malware. An excellent security software must offer robust protection against various types of threats, including viruses, ransomware, spyware, and phishing attacks. Check independent test results from organizations like AV-Test to get an idea of the software’s reliability in this regard.

Security updates

Cyber threats are continually evolving, and so should your security software. A quality antivirus software should offer regular updates to keep up with new threats. It should also include real-time protection features to guard your system against new malware threats as they emerge.

Security features

Look for an antivirus package that offers comprehensive security features. These may include a firewall, VPN, password manager, parental controls, secure online transactions, and privacy tools. Depending on your needs, you may also want features like identity theft protection, secure cloud backup, and dark web monitoring.

Performance impact

The best security software provides robust protection without slowing down your device significantly. It should be lightweight and efficient, allowing you to carry out your daily activities without noticeable lag or slowdown. You can gauge the performance impact of an antivirus solution from independent lab tests or user reviews.

Customer support

Reliable customer support is essential for troubleshooting or addressing any issues that may arise. Opt for an antivirus with multiple support options, such as live chat, email, phone, and a comprehensive knowledge base. The availability and responsiveness of the customer support team can be a critical factor, particularly in times of need.

First-year and second price

Price is always a significant consideration. However, look beyond the initial cost. Many antivirus solutions offer heavy discounts for the first year, but the renewal prices can be significantly higher. Ensure you’re comfortable with the long-term cost of the software, considering the features and protection it offers, to get the best value for your money.

Operating system

If you have a specific operating system that you would like to protect, we probably have a dedicated antivirus comparison for it:

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

What cyber threats can internet security software protect you from?

Internet security software is designed to guard against a broad spectrum of cyber threats. While it’s not an impenetrable fortress, it significantly reduces your vulnerability to various types of malicious software, or ‘malware’. Let’s delve into these threats:


Malware is an umbrella term for any malicious software designed to harm or exploit any computing device or network. This includes viruses, worms, Trojans, ransomware, spyware, adware, and more. Internet security software continuously scans for such threats and neutralizes them before they can cause harm.

For more, read our blog post on malware or malware examples.


Adware is software that automatically displays or downloads advertising material, often unwanted, when a user is online. Some adware can compromise your privacy by tracking browsing habits and serving targeted ads. A good security suite will block such software, keeping your online experience clean and secure.

For more, read our blog post on adware or adware examples.


Botnets are networks of compromised computers, or ‘bots’, controlled remotely by cybercriminals for malicious activities like DDoS attacks, spamming, or spreading malware. Your security software can prevent your device from being hijacked into such networks.

For more, read our blog post on botnets or botnet examples.


Keyloggers are malicious programs designed to record your keystrokes, often used to steal personal information like usernames, passwords, and credit card details. Internet security tools with robust real-time protection can detect and block keyloggers.

For more, read our blog post on keyloggers or keylogger types.


Ransomware is a form of malware that encrypts the victim’s files, making them inaccessible until a ransom is paid to the cybercriminal. A reliable internet security software includes measures to detect, block, and remove ransomware threats.

For more, read our blog post on ransomware or ransomware examples.


Rootkits are a set of software tools that allow unauthorized access to a computer. They are often used to mask malware activity. Quality security suites can detect and eliminate rootkits, ensuring your system’s integrity.

For more, read our blog post on rootkits or rootkit examples.


Spyware is malware designed to spy on you, capturing and transmitting user activities to an attacker, often without the user’s knowledge. Internet security software can detect and eliminate spyware, safeguarding your privacy.

For more, read our blog post on spyware or spyware examples.


Trojans are harmful programs that disguise themselves as legitimate software. They can create backdoors, giving hackers remote control over a computer. Internet security software helps identify and remove these threats.

For more, read our blog post on trojans or trojan examples.


Viruses are malicious programs that can copy themselves and infect a computer, altering the way a computer operates or locking it down entirely. They can spread across networks and through file sharing. A robust antivirus tool is a must to detect, quarantine, and eliminate viruses.

For more, read our blog post on viruses or virus examples.


Worms are malware that replicate themselves to spread to other computers over a network, often causing harm by consuming bandwidth or overloading web servers. Internet security software can prevent such threats, maintaining the health and performance of your network.

For more, read our blog post on worms or worm examples.

What cyber threats can internet security software not protect you from?

Even the most advanced internet security software has its limits. There are several cyber threats that, due to their nature, can evade detection or don’t rely on vulnerabilities that security tools can fix. Understanding these limitations is key to adopting a holistic approach to cybersecurity. Let’s explore these threats:


Phishing is a form of deception where cybercriminals trick individuals into divulging personal information, like passwords or credit card numbers, by pretending to be a trusted entity. While internet security suites often include anti-phishing tools, they can’t catch every phishing attempt, especially those that rely on human interaction, such as via email or text messages. User vigilance remains a crucial part of phishing defense.

For more, read our blog post on phishing or phishing examples.

Online Scams

Online scams involve deceptive practices to defraud individuals, often through fake websites or fraudulent emails. These scams can take numerous forms, including lottery scams, romance scams, or tech support scams. While internet security software can sometimes identify scam websites or flag scam emails, their effectiveness relies heavily on the user’s ability to recognize and avoid such scams.

For more, read our blog post on online scams.

Social Engineering

Social engineering exploits human psychology, rather than technical hacking techniques, to gain access to buildings, systems, or data. Examples include impersonation, baiting, or tailgating. While internet security software can provide a robust defense against many forms of cyber threats, it cannot prevent a person from being manipulated by a skilled social engineer. Education and awareness are the best defenses against these kinds of attacks.

For more, read our blog post on social engineering.

Zero-Day Exploits

Zero-day exploits take advantage of undisclosed vulnerabilities in software, giving attackers access before developers can issue a fix. Because these exploits are, by definition, unknown to the vendor at the time of the attack, even the most sophisticated internet security software may not protect against them immediately. This is why it’s vital to keep your software and systems updated – as soon as a patch becomes available, it should be applied.

For more, read our blog post on zero-day exploits.

What internet security software have we tested?

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

As a general rule of thumb, even the best free malware removal programs, like Avast One, cannot compete with the comprehensive malware protection offered by paid solutions, like Norton 360 Deluxe or Bitdefender Total Protection.

Below is the list of the 20 most important brands:

The best antivirus programs are Norton 360 Deluxe, Norton 360 Advanced, and Bitdefender Total Security. By comparison, the other antivirus software cost too much, offer less capable protection from malware threats, or have no unlimited VPN access.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are the most frequently asked questions.

What is the best internet security software?

Bitdefender and Norton offer the best comprehensive protection at fair prices. We offer exclusive discounts on our site.

Do you need internet security software?

Absolutely! Internet security software safeguards your online activities, protecting you from a myriad of cyber threats.

How does internet security software work?

Internet security software works by scanning, detecting, and eliminating threats, while safeguarding your data and privacy.

Will internet security software slow down your device?

Quality security software like Bitdefender or Norton won’t slow down your device. However, lower quality solutions might affect performance.

Is a free internet security software safe?

Free internet security solutions are usually not as safe. They may lack essential features and their protection isn’t as comprehensive.

Is Kaspersky still safe?

Despite being Russian, no evidence suggests that Kaspersky isn’t safe. It continues to offer robust and reliable protection.

Languages and sources

Similar pages in other languages on SoftwareLab.org:

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


Author: Tibor Moes

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.

You can find him on LinkedIn or contact him here.