Internet Security Software
With the proliferation of computers and the internet, cybercrime was born. While security measures already protect many PCs, some threats still slip through.
Fortunately, you can use internet security software to protect your devices, data and privacy. Here are some of the most important internet security examples.
Summary: Internet security software protect your privacy, your data, and your devices from a range of threats, including malware and phishing. Usually, these security suites include antivirus software, a password manager, a firewall, and a virtual private network (VPN).
What is Internet Security Software?
Internet security software protects computers, websites, and more from cyber threats that can compromise your data and sensitive files. Online threats like hackers and malware are easily able to steal data if it’s without protection. You might experience identity theft, but hackers are also guilty of emptying bank accounts.
Below, you can learn more about these online security solutions. While getting all of them is unnecessary, some are more critical than others. Read on for all the details.
Internet Security Suites
Antiviruses are programs that scan for viruses and malicious software before removing them. When active, they also actively prevent these harmful threats from wreaking havoc on your computer. Any computer without this software can be infected by viruses minutes after connecting to a network.
An antivirus scans any data from the internet onto your computer in real-time. If the software detects any known threat, security solutions kick in and either block or remove the object quickly.
Today, malware and other threats have been known to change their appearance in an attempt to slip past security measures. Therefore, it’s essential to keep the software up to date. The companies that sell web protection software are constantly updating their databases of threats and attacks.
An up-to-date antivirus will catch new attacks easier than one that hasn’t been updated for months. That’s why experts recommend updating the apps as often as possible.
Computer viruses spread like the cold, copying themselves onto new systems before traveling elsewhere. It’s the antivirus’ job to prevent them from wreaking havoc on the local systems.
However, antiviruses alone aren’t enough to eliminate most attacks. They’re instead a core part of internet security suites. These are a combination of various services designed to offer extra or complete protection from various threats.
Not all suites are created equal, and some are much better at detecting and neutralizing internet security threats than others. There are tests that prove these claims, so you can decide which is for you.
Internet Security Suite Examples
There are many different security programs available for purchase and download. Many offer more than virus protection, providing internet security through privacy features and more. Consider a suite that matches your needs instead of only looking at the number of features.
Bitdefender Internet Security is one candidate for the best internet security suite. It has malware detection, firewalls, and even a VPN to keep your devices private, going beyond basic antivirus protection. You’ll have peace of mind as you manage an online store or use the internet for other purposes.
Among its unique features is a file shredder. While you can delete files through the recycle bin, a file shredder will leave absolutely no traces behind. The recycle bin isn’t considered a secure deletion method.
Parental controls are also a concern, especially for families with young children. Bitdefender can filter out explicit content on all websites and keep them away from curious eyes. It’s possible to set screen time limits so the family can spend time together.
Parents can monitor their kids’ online activity by logging on to Bitdefender Internet Security. The app will let parents change the limitations – children can’t do with their limited accounts.
Hackers that manage to get into your computer may activate any webcams connected to your devices. However, with the software’s webcam protection, no one can take a peek at your daily activities.
Internet users may shop online, but doing so can be risky if you don’t have internet security suites. Bitdefender has a dedicated secure browser that prevents fraud and stores credit card information for quick checkout. The latter function is optional.
Your private files may be ransomed by malware, but Bitdefender can prevent this in conjunction with its Advanced Threat Defense. Cybercriminals will find it much more challenging to hold your sensitive information hostage.
Spam emails can be annoying; this antivirus can work with local email clients and filter out potentially harmful mail. Two examples of emails that work with the software are Thunderbird and Microsoft Outlook.
Complete protection is Bitdefender’s main selling point. Your data is always kept safe from anyone who wants to pry.
Norton 360 Deluxe
While Norton 360 Standard is great for single users, the Deluxe plan offers extra internet security. Some believe it’s the best internet security software, and arguments can be made for this case. After all, it can combat internet security threats brilliantly.
The test involving 100 malware host URLs mentioned earlier also evaluated Norton 360 Deluxe. It scored a 100% blocking rate and a 97% detection rate, earning a protection score of 9.7. These are top-echelon scores and are not to be dismissed casually.
Norton 360 will block or quarantine malware like other internet security software. You’ll be immediately informed if it recognizes a harmful URL and advised from entering.
Even if you wish to visit a suspicious website, Norton will let you do so in Isolation Mode. This mode “sanitizes” the webpage, so you don’t infect your PC with malware.
Similarly, Norton’s Online Banking Protection will isolate your activities as you make payments on known sites. That way, it takes extensive effort to tamper with your transactions. Everything is discreet and safe.
Instead of keeping firewalls behind premium packages, Norton provides a fully-fledged firewall with the Deluxe package and below. Your Wi-Fi network traffic is constantly monitored for threats from the internet and your installed programs. The firewall has passed tests for tampering resistance and has proven effective.
While not directly tied to internet security, the included 75GB storage space for PC cloud backups is a nice perk. That’s more than enough space to move a few large games or some confidential files.
Norton Password Manager is already free as a standalone app, though you can integrate it with Norton Deluxe 360. It syncs across multiple devices that have the security suite installed.
Something Norton acquired from LifeLock is Dark Web Monitoring. Occasionally, you can find vital personal information on the Dark Web, including:
- Phone number
- Driver’s license
- Credit cards
However, the risks of identity theft are much lower with Dark Web Monitoring. It’s a powerful tool to keep your personal details safe.
Norton’s email security integrates with Outlook to dump spam in a dedicated folder. If you want to use a different email client, setup is required.
Additionally, an unlimited VPN is provided when you purchase the Deluxe plan. Not having to pay for a separate service can be a cost-saving measure that most users will appreciate.
Parental controls on Norton 360 are helpful. You have access to features like supervision, site blocking, and more.
Considered one of the best internet security suites, Norton 360 Deluxe is well worth the money. Not many other services are this generous.
Kaspersky Internet Security
Kaspersky Internet Security is another security suite aiming to protect Windows, macOS, and Android devices. It has enjoyed a solid reputation for over a decade, protecting users against threats. For example, when you visit malicious websites accidentally, Kaspersky will protect you from going further.
At least four independent testing labs have put Kaspersky’s internet security suite to the test. It gained perfect or almost-perfect scores in every category. The software surpasses many similar internet security products, except for Bitdefender.
Kaspersky’s firewall is known for being precise and unyielding. You can craft the protection to your liking and leave it to handle your security needs. With the company’s database, all apps and software are assigned different levels of trustworthiness.
Occasionally, threats slip past this firewall. However, most threats are immediately neutralized, and those that fall through don’t breach internet security.
Kaspersky also has an anti-spam messages feature, but you’ll have to turn it on manually. It works with web-based email accounts like Gmail and ProtonMail. The three levels of protection prevent you from accidentally downloading a virus.
For users who need it, Kaspersky’s parental controls, Safe Kids, is very in-depth and offers plenty of possibilities. There are many categories you can censure from children. It even works with games if you’re concerned about specific types.
Although Kaspersky installs on all operating systems and works with macOS and Android devices, Windows is the most popular platform. It’s a genuinely almost-universal software solution.
When an Android device is registered, you can set commands such as taking mugshots or wiping the device clean. The mugshot feature is excellent for checking who stole your mobile devices.
Since Android isn’t as secure as iOS, many experts recommend getting antivirus software for your phone, and Kaspersky can be that solution. Its apps will protect your smartphone from Android-targeted threats.
Even if Kaspersky isn’t perfect, it consistently ranks highly on lab test charts. You can trust it to protect your devices from internet threats.
McAfee Total Protection
McAfee Total Protection is another choice for the best internet security software, and it’s been trusted for many years. It works with all standard operating systems and provides good internet security.
Identity protection is one of McAfee’s strong suits. The internet security suite shreds cookies and other sensitive file types. It would be as if those files never existed, making identity theft much more difficult.
McAfee offers comprehensive protection to help maintain your privacy and keep sensitive information away from prying eyes. It’s also good for families who need multiple device protection.
Many internet users don’t protect their mobile devices, which opens them up to hacking attempts or malware. With McAfee, you can protect up to 10 devices, no matter the operating system. Internet security has never been this flexible.
Users who value performance, particularly for gaming or intensive tasks, may hesitate upon being presented with security suites. However, McAfee will optimize your PC’s speeds and make it a pleasant experience while offering internet security.
Home Wi-Fi networks aren’t always secured, making them easy targets for hackers. McAfee will take care of everything as you stream Netflix and watch YouTube.
A lab test proved that McAfee’s WebAdvisor plugin managed to prevent 100% of malicious sites from delivering payloads of malware. It also had a 100% detection rate. The antivirus will even prevent users from visiting around 37% of these 100 URLs, showing the effectiveness of the feature.
In addition, WebAdvisor will detect cryptojacking attempts that suck up your computer’s processing power and siphon a part of it for mining cryptocurrencies. While some sites ask you for permission up front, others install the software secretly. Not all web security programs have this functionality.
With the Family plan, you gain access to some rudimentary parental controls. It prevents children from accessing websites they’re not allowed to visit.
Extra security from a password manager is present. It stores all your account information securely, allowing you to access it no matter your operating system.
As one of the best internet security suites, McAfee Total Protection remains one of the reigning champions in cybersecurity and computer security.
Webroot Internet Security
Webroot is known for countering phishing attacks, especially for Mac users. While it works on both popular operating systems, Webroot is often considered the best Mac security software. The app always provides internet security without draining system resources.
Unlike some internet security suites, Webroot is cloud-based and works with other operating systems. A Complete plan purchase affords users protection for up to five devices simultaneously. This includes smartphones and computers, so the protection extends to all possible vectors.
Webroot is designed to prevent work with minimal system resource impact compared to other internet security suites. This may be especially useful for gamers who value squeezing every drop out of their CPUs and GPUs.
After installing Webroot, it will immediately scan all data and prevent threats from harming your device. It sends suspicious software into an isolated loop, allowing the potential threat to run. Should Webroot deem it a hazard, it’s removed or disabled.
Identity protection is also one of Webroot’s strong points. All sensitive information is kept safe against ransomware and other attacks. If ransomware has corrupted a file, Webroot will try to repair it so you don’t lose it.
Passwords should be complicated and lengthy, as hackers can easily brute-force their way through a login screen. Webroot’s password manager lets you secure your passwords and keep social media accounts away from cybercriminals.
A password manager is a safe way to keep private data hidden except for authorized persons. It takes the pressure out of remembering your passwords as well.
In addition, the app will remove unused files and free up storage space with Webroot’s Complete package. Part of this feature is done by deleting cookies and other temporary files accrued from internet traffic.
While not part of the package, Webroot has a VPN that works with all its internet security products and prevents phishing attacks.
Bullguard Premium Protection
Bullguard Premium Protection was a good internet security software with some unique security features. It used machine learning to detect threats, old and new, connecting to the database via a network connection. Some features it had were parental controls, a secure browser, and identity theft protection.
However, it is now one of the internet security suites no longer available. A quick visit to its website will show you that Norton acquired Bullguard and its services. The page will direct you to buy Norton’s products instead.
Bullguard may not have offered the best internet security, but it remains a crucial part of security software history.
ESET Internet Security
ESET Internet Security is a compelling and unique internet security suite. It’s not exactly maximum security, but people who rely on online banking will find it helpful. Its internet security solutions are a unique mix of top-tier features and mid-range functions.
Online banking can be risky, as phishing attacks are always out there to steal your sensitive data. ESET provides a secure browser that protects your online banking and cryptocurrency wallets to prevent data theft. It has anti-keylogger software to keep passwords and usernames away from theft.
Even if you’re not banking, ESET prevents unauthorized access to your sensitive data. ESET will check your home Wi-Fi for loopholes and other openings. It offers webcam protection too.
A security suite like ESET comes with parental controls. It has 20 available website categories that parents can use and the option to block sites individually – especially since web security databases can miss sites.
You can monitor all your children’s devices and check the user activity. The user interface also allows parents to lock controls with a password to prevent unwanted modifications.
Some web protection programs will use your RAM and drain your CPU, causing slowdowns. However, ESET is light on your computer and mobile devices, so you can browse the net and play games freely. The security software even has a battery-saving mode.
ESET has multiple layers of security features. Besides detecting unwanted software, it will continuously look for worms and other spyware that employ anti-detection techniques. Most attacks are stopped immediately upon detection or at least disabled.
Like some security software with mobile apps, ESET has an Android app you can download. It’s not complete protection, but you can still prevent most threats.
Avira Prime is the company’s all-in-one suite, providing access to its past, present, and future network security features. It doesn’t offer some features like a firewall, parental controls, and spam message filtering. Even so, there are some reasons to get it.
Avira Prime’s antivirus protection capabilities are impressive. While not the best, it’s ranked 11th in the malicious URL test. This isn’t the run-of-the-mill antivirus software.
With a 91% detection rate, you can expect the software to detect most attacks and prevent them from escalating. The Pro Avira features such as checking on quarantined objects and scans are all there to help detect any malware in your system.
You can use the file shredding function for sensitive information that must be deleted securely. It deletes everything and leaves nothing behind. Files vanish and become undiscoverable.
Web protection and ransomware protection are crucial, particularly for users who handle banking and finances online. The latter feature detects threats using behavioral analysis since some ransomware can slip past the antivirus.
The password manager is upgraded over the free version, offering a complete analysis of your passwords. With the scan, you can check if it’s secure enough.
Avira Prime also lets you use its VPN without any bandwidth limitations. The entry-level products have limits, but now you can stay anonymous at all times. What this VPN excels in is coverage, however.
Unlike some products, Avira’s VPN doesn’t impose a limit on how many devices it can protect. Therefore, you can connect as many devices to the Wi-Fi as you want. Choose from over 50 countries or cities.
System Speedup Pro allows users to scan for performance issues and fix them. It finds outdated drivers and optimizes anything it discovers. A deep clean can remove at least 2GB of junk.
Avira Prime performs excellently on Macs, though it isn’t the best product. Nevertheless, you can eliminate many macOS threats effortlessly.
While not the top internet security software, Avira Prime guarantees access to future products.
Internet Security Threats
There are many ways cybercriminals will try to get your information. That’s why knowing their tactics will help you combat the threat. Here are some of the most prevalent attacks.
Malware is a group of software that includes these items.
- Trojan horses
This harmful software will try to either ransom files, steal your information, or disrupt your system, making it unusable. For example, Trojans are advanced viruses disguised as harmless programs, but once a user downloads them, hackers can gain control of your computer or another device.
Adware isn’t always malicious, but it will monitor your browsing patterns and send you personalized ads. If you like airsoft, for example, the adware will make airsoft ads appear more often. Most adware is installed without user consent and can be an invasion of privacy.
Cryptojacking was mentioned earlier, but the basic idea is stealing some of your processing power to mine cryptocurrency. You don’t profit off this action, and all the money goes to whoever is operating the cryptojacking software. Computers have been known to experience performance issues from this issue.
Some malware attacks don’t involve files. They instead modify your local files and transform them into attack vectors. They’re much harder to detect as these files are legitimate.
No matter the type of malware, you’re courting trouble if it’s ignored. Performance issues are the least of your worries because identity theft can happen if someone manages to snag your vital details like bank account information.
Phishing is the most common form of social engineering attack. It uses a fake website to entice users into entering account information. People lose access to social media accounts or even lose money this way.
Variants of phishing are vishing and smishing. The former involves phone calls pretending to be a person of authority. Many people fall for this trick, especially if the caller pretends to be with the IRS or other government agency.
On the other hand, smishing is performed by sending a victim false text messages. Texts can vary, but one example is someone impersonating the sheriff and informing you of an arrest warrant.
Another famous trick is baiting. If you’ve seen suspicious gift card offers, there’s a chance it may be a baiting attempt. You’ll be asked to hand over confidential information to the attacker in “exchange” for fictional gift cards.
You may have heard of the term scareware. This is software that tries to warn you about illegal content you downloaded. However, the download isn’t really on the device. The tactic scares users into paying to “remove” the threat.
Honey traps are when a hacker impersonates an attractive person and befriends a victim. Eventually, a false online relationship blossoms and the target might be persuaded to give up personal information.
Social engineering attacks rely on deceit, and phishing scams are still on the rise. Many companies will add disclaimers stating they don’t need your account information.
The Man-in-the-Middle or MitM attack happens when you connect to a public and unsecured Wi-Fi network. An attacker will already be between the user and an app, ready to act. When you browse the internet and enter information, the man in the middle will eavesdrop and steal as much information as possible.
After your sensitive information is taken, the cybercriminal can impersonate you. They have your login details and even credit card information.
Besides the Wi-Fi MitM attack, there are other variants. These include:
- Hijacking an email address
- DNS spoofing
- IP address spoofing
- HTTPS spoofing
Criminals can pretend to be the customer service representative of an organization, such as banks or online services. They may ask you to follow some instructions, which usually involve sending private information.
The last three spoofs involve mostly posing as legitimate websites, such as Facebook or Twitter. You may think you’re going to the right website, but it’s actually a somewhat accurate reproduction designed to steal your information.
Cybercriminals will flood your computer or network with so much data it can’t respond to any requests. A common attack is the distributed denial of service or DDoS. These attacks originate from a computer network and will prevent the handshake process from happening.
In other words, you can picture your computer as a cafe, but there are so many customers the workers can’t operate normally. DoS attacks will cripple a system temporarily, but that isn’t all.
Attackers will use this paralysis period to send other attacks, such as malware. A botnet is a DDoS attack designed to attack millions of systems and inject malware all at once. One hacker is all the botnet needs.
Botnets are difficult to trace, as the hackers mask their location and are usually physically located far from their targets, most times in other countries. Therefore, tracking perpetrators down is immensely difficult.
Many servers use SQL, a domain-specific language. Hackers with knowledge of SQL can send queries to an input channel like a comment box or field.
If it’s accepted, the server will receive the attacker’s code and run any SQL commands contained in the query. The process can be straightforward, such as entering it into a site’s search bar. The system will then execute the code.
SQL injections are only one type of injection attack. Several more are designed to trick systems into granting cybercriminal access to the server.
- Code injection
- OS command injection
- XXE injection
- LDAP injection
Software Supply Chain Attacks
Supply chain attacks occur when an organization’s trusted app or software has a weak link. Attackers can take advantage of the backdoor and trick the company’s customers, who have no reason to distrust the business’ infrastructure.
Some services, such as network monitoring tools and control systems, are victims. The attackers can attach malicious code to the software, injecting malware or other threats. By the time these attacks are discovered, the damage has already been done.
Leveraging the trust that clients have with providers is effective, so it’s up to companies to invest in secure cybersecurity solutions.
Hackers with time and resources can guess your password. The classic brute-force attack involves using software that sends passwords continuously. Eventually, the software will find the right one.
Dictionary attacks use the user’s encrypted password file and contrasts its encryption scheme with some regularly-used passwords. This method will slowly unravel your password.
Some attackers are more cunning, preferring to steal a password hash and then use it with other networked systems. This way, the password itself won’t be needed anymore.
Password attacks can either be carried out randomly or have some logic to them. Brute-force attacks belong to the former category.
Who Launches Cyberattacks?
Cyberattacks can come from many sources. Some might target high-profile organizations like governments, while others prefer to attack ordinary civilians. Groups that launch cyberattacks include:
- Criminal organizations
- Corporate spies
It may be surprising that governments launched some cyberattacks, but in espionage, everything goes. Some countries aim to cause damage to their rivals’ infrastructures.
Criminals are the ones who may try to gain financial information. In contrast, all hackers aren’t necessarily criminals but may wish to prove their code works just for social standing.
Industrial spies carry out attacks to steal confidential information on behalf of their company. They may do so to help their employers gain an advantage in the particular market.
Internet Security Solutions
For every problem, there’s a solution. Cybersecurity solutions have been implemented in the various security suites mentioned above. Here are some common ones.
Firewalls protect a system from incoming and outgoing network traffic. They have rules set by the user and programmer to keep unwanted threats out. If they did infiltrate, the firewall would also stop them.
Virtual private networks keep a user’s actual geological location hidden from everyone, even their network service provider. They can come as part of an antivirus suite or may be web-based. All data is passed through extensive scans and encrypted from end to end with this service.
Some products are designed to secure emails and prevent eavesdroppers. While many email service providers already have some level of security, they might not be enough for determined cybercriminals. You’ll need the extra protection in case somebody manages to intercept and read your mail.
Instead of only a single password, consider using two-factor authentication. This method is much safer than just a password since attackers will need an extra code. It can also only be used once.
Antivirus software is the core of every internet security suite. As these are the main threats on the internet, providers must optimize their antivirus solutions so malware doesn’t slip through.
Password managers can generate secure passwords that contain alphanumeric symbols. Instead of just a birthday or important object, these passwords are much more challenging to crack. Brute-force attacks can take thousands of years before finding the correct string.
A password manager also keeps all of your credentials in a secure location. That way, you only need to remember one password to access the others.
Intrusion prevention systems can be installed to prevent hackers. These will analyze incoming network traffic and look for anything suspicious. The sooner attempts are detected, the lower the risk becomes.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the purpose of internet security software?
Internet security software is designed to protect computers and local networks from all manner of threats. The software actively checks all traffic and prevents attacks from succeeding.
What is an internet security system?
An internet security system is a group of several technologies that protect a party from threats on the internet. Antiviruses, endpoint security, and more are part of it.
Do I really need internet security software?
Yes, you do need it. Internet security software can protect your private information and other items from cybercriminals. You’re much safer with it than not.
Author: Tibor Moes
Founder & Chief Editor at SoftwareLab
Tibor is a Dutch engineer and entrepreneur. He has tested security software since 2014.
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