What products are out there to protect your PC and device?
We all know answer to this: antivirus internet security software.
Let me elaborate:
There are lots of "freemium" antivirus products out there or standard antivirus packages that offer the basic fully-stacked antivirus engine to combat malware and viruses.
Antivirus and Internet Security software packages, or even Premium Security packages, tend to fill in the gaps and missing links that the basic packages overlook, and they are usually offered at fantastic deals.
This article will go through the motions of what the best internet security suites are and what they include.
I will explain why it's worth it to invest in these security suites instead of the basic products based on certain criteria and information that I expand on below.
Most antivirus vendors offer three to four levels of security products ranging from:
Generally speaking, most of the entry-level internet security software include antivirus, antispam, firewall, parental control, privacy protection, and password managers.
The advanced security suites come with premium features such as an online backup component, system tune-up utilities. and some other security extras like internet security for Mac and Android.
What both the entry-level and advanced include, which is a step up from the basic antivirus software packages, is the fact that they cover more than 1 device and more operating systems most of the time.
Note: Every antivirus provider varies slightly from the other. There are cases where an entry-level suite of one provider includes all the features that premium advanced suites offer by other providers or vice versa.
It all comes down to what the user needs in terms of security features, the price tag, and differences between the levels of the suites.
What works for one person may not work for another.
The key is to find the ultimate package deal, and that is why I am here to help you discern what's important to notice when selecting the best one.
Another important point to make is that internet security software, whether entry level or advanced, but especially the latter, can be useful for small businesses, but as the company grows and expands, users will have to switch to the business packages that provide endpoint protection systems to manage and monitor security for all the company's PCs.
How do you know if it's worth it to upgrade to an internet security suite if all your essential needs seem to be met by the basic antivirus package?
There are attributes and characteristics of products that you have to look out for in order to decide.
Well, I look for several factors to decide whether to take the leap, but the three most important attributes are:
The most vital of these three is performance because if the antivirus software slows the system down, then what's the use in all the premium features it offers?
The core antivirus protection needs to be top-notch, and after this I consider the amount of features the suites offer and then the type of help and support the software provider extends to its users.
Let's get a bit more specific on the three characteristics that I mentioned above:
An antivirus engine is the heart and soul of any internet security software, and the best security suite will have formidable antivirus protection to detect and block malware attacks.
The performance of antivirus software is comprised of three components, namely:
When I pick the best security bundle, I make sure that the performance of the product is in top ranking order according to tests by reputed antivirus lab tests and our own home-user tests.
To view our comprehensive hands-on tests and the results for top antivirus software testing labs like AV Test, click on this comparison table for the different antivirus providers on our site.
You can also have a look at our internet security reviews which include videos on the different tests we conduct to observe the performance of the products in several core aspects, such as:
The features is the attribute that takes center stage in this article and will be elaborated on in the sections that follow.
Most of the basic antivirus products provided by all antivirus players offer the necessary antivirus engine that includes anti-malware, anti-phishing, anti-spam, email protection, anti-spyware, and safe browsing, give and take.
The only aspect that is usually a bonus with the latter is anti-ransomware protection, but most of the time it is either not provided at all or comes with the internet suite and premium security packages.
The aim of this article is to consider the amount and types of additional features besides the ones mentioned above that the best internet security suites provide.
Every user will have different needs so I can't declare flat out what the best security suites are conclusively, but what I can do is discuss the features you can expect to see included in these packages.
While someone may need parental control and a two-way firewall, others might not have children or they will be satisfied with just a Windows firewall instead of a proprietary one.
Some features in the internet security software packages are beneficial to everyone like a file shredder that permanently deletes erased files so that no one can read the files even with a forensic file recovery utility.
Another feature that anyone can benefit from is a product that automatically downloads critical operating system patches in order to maintain the computer security.
Sometimes it works out as better value for money to go with the premium security products as they come with even more features than an entry-level bundle; it's a case by case matter.
To delve into the features that are part and parcel of the best internet security suites, have a look at the Internet Security Suite Features section below.
One more thing to consider when deciding which of the best security packages to go with is the help and support.
While performance and features are extremely competitive selling points for antivirus providers, help and support isn't something that all of them take into consideration.
Help and customer care ranges from FAQs pages and email during business hours, to 24/7 customer care, telephone numbers, and online chat.
A lot of the time, security suites will offer 24/7 customer care via phone, email, and live chat when the basic antivirus packages do not.
This might just be critical if your PC succumbs to a malware attack at a godforsaken hour and you need urgent help and cannot wait until Monday morning!
As I have outlined a few times in this article, internet security suites offer more features and security for its users.
These are the main features to expect from these suites, and what each one entails in a nutshell:
Firewall choices are a big deciding factor between different suites and even different antivirus providers.
Some vendors develop a strong two-way proprietary firewall, while others just rely on the standard Windows Firewall or don't have this mechanism in the software at all.
The function of a good Firewall is to do two things:
A reliable Firewall will carry out both these functions as equally important components of the technology.
Some security suites just use the Windows Firewall configuration because the vendors feel that it does the most essential tasks when in fact it only fulfills function number 1 and does not include program control.
Another important element to consider is if the Firewall has automatic permissions for known programs. This means that the user is not alerted about every single online activity and whether it should be blocked or allowed.
A modern Firewall will configure permissions for all known programs automatically, and the best ones also handle unknown programs without much interruption by closely monitoring for signs of suspicious behavior and improper network activity.
One or two emails about Russian brides, your new-found fortune, or quick diet fixes are okay...maybe not!
But if it becomes an issue that you cannot find any of your valid email among all the crazy spam emails that you actually miss important notifications and information, well then it's definitely not okay!
Some email providers filter out spam email but nothing is better than an anti-spam mechanism to come to the rescue.
You need to know what makes for excellent anti-spam technology:
Be sure to find security products that include anti-phishing as part of the antivirus engine.
In fact, phishing sites are a huge problem that even standard antivirus packages include this tool.
Phishing sites are fraudulent sites that trick users into giving away financial and security credentials by posing as legitimate banking sites, auction sites, and even online gaming sites.
The ultimate privacy protection the best internet security suite will provide is not only steering users away from phishing sites but also with specific protection for sensitive data defined by the user.
This sensitive data includes credit card details, bank accounts, and personal credentials.
Privacy protection usually works according to one of these three mechanisms:
Personally, I don't penalize internet security software that doesn't include parental control because not everyone needs it; either there are no kids, or the parents don't feel the need to monitor and control their kids' devices.
But, it is definitely a bonus if you want it and if it works well!
The basic things to look out for are:
Some advanced suites take things a step further with not just parental control but what's called kids monitoring with features like:
These features can get complicated so the user needs to make sure that the antivirus provider uses a sophisticated but easy to use tool that does not slow down PC performance.
File and document backup is one of the most vital measures to take to ensure ultimate security for your PC.
A ransomware attack is not fun, but if you have your data backed up somewhere that it can be restored, then it isn't the end of the world if your data is destroyed.
Some antivirus vendors reserve the online backup for the advanced premium suites, while others include it in the entry-level suites.
In saying that, it is essential to understand backup capabilities are different depending on the vendor.
Some online backup tools do no more than what you can get from free online backup services like Google Drive or Mozy, while the high end online back up tools will host 25GB for online storage as well as the ability to make local backups.
While this feature has no direct connection to internet security, tuning up your system performance is always a win, especially if your antivirus software causes a drag in the PC performance.
A PC Tune-Up can however include privacy measures which is a bonus, such as:
The advanced antivirus and security products tend to offer more coverage for a larger number of devices, sometimes even an unlimited amount, and the packages also come with the best internet security for Mac, Android, and iOS devices.
This can be a game changer for some users and small businesses but irrelevant for others, which may explain why premium packages provide these options.
This is a great feature for those extra weary antivirus internet security users out there.
With file encryption, a user's sensitive information is changed so that anyone who shouldn't be accessing certain files or documents won't be able to read the proprietary and sensitive information.
Hard drive encryption software uses a cipher, otherwise known as an encryption algorithm, to protect files. This means that when one user sends an email to another person, the user will attach a code/key in the form of a password in order to unlock the message.
This nifty tool allows laptop, smartphone, and tablet users to track the device should it get lost or stolen.
The main components of device anti-theft are to be able to control the device remotely in order to block further usage, protect sensitive information, or send a message to the device so someone can return it.
Some of the tools contain a tracker device so the owner can see where the device is at.
Secure VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) are there to secure home and company private servers with secure access by users to a private network, and for them to share data throught public networks remotely.
You don't want to put any personal and company data at stake by using the public network like a Wifi hotspot at your favorite coffee shop, now would you?
Another feature that anyone can benefit from is a vulnerability scanner – a feature that automatically downloads critical operating system and software patches in order to minimize exploits and maintain the computer security.
Bitdefender offers four different levels of packages with the basic one coming in as Antivirus Plus.
Then a user can work his/her way up from the entry-level suite to the more advanced and premium antivirus internet security software.
Each product is designed to work perfectly on Windows 10, but be aware that the free version that is available isn't compatible with Windows 10 and doesn't come with ransomware protection.
Bitdefender comes in at number 1 place because of the myriad of features it provides, even in the standard package. Not all the antivirus providers include ransomware as part of their software so it's definitely a win.
For further details on the ins and outs of the best internet security vendor, click on this comprehensive Bitdefender review.
I would pick the Bitdefender Total Security 2017 owing to the amount of features it offers and the number of devices it includes. It is certainly worth it seeing that the price difference with the other packages is negligible.
Kaspersky is certainly a top competitor in the world of antivirus and cyber security with its veteran status and formidable products.
This vendor offers three levels of antivirus protection with the basic antivirus package powered with all the major necessities for cyber security and antivirus protection.
The only letdown is that there isn't ransowmare protection which is somewhat surprising for such an excellent provider.
To learn all the nitty gritty things about Kaspersky, read the internet security review that is sure to help you make the right choice.
I would go for the Total Security package if you have children because it provides everything you need and more in terms of internet security software and protection.
Trend Micro is at the top of its game with excellent software with four levels of coverage.
Trend Micro also provides ransomware protection from the basic Antivirus Plus package up to the Premium Security which is a great win!
Each product works smoothly on Windows XP right up to Windows 10.
It is worth a mention that the Maximum Security package is actually cheaper than the entry-level Internet Security package and comes with much more features to boot.
To get a better understanding of what each product is about, peruse this nicely set out Trend Micro review.
If it was me, I would choose Premium Security because the price difference is very small, you get 24/7 technical support, and coverage for an extra 2 devices.
Norton has a great selection of internet security software with four choices ranging from Basic to Premium.
Norton Security works for everyone because of its versatility and the fact that it works on all the popular operating systems and devices.
For an in-depth analysis of Norton Security and what makes it one of the best cyber security providers, read our helpful Norton review now.
My recommendation is the Norton Security Premium package because it includes all the important additional features, especially if you have children.
If you want to find out what all the other antivirus vendors provide, then read our excellent and professional internet security reviews to get the full picture and to help you make an informed decision without any regrets!
So, what can we take away from this article?
Well, I'd say that it's safe to assume that all the basic antivirus packages offer the same as the best internet security software in terms of malware detection, blocking, and removal.
The difference between the levels comes down to additional features that are necessary for a safe online experience that goes beyond antivirus and malware protection.
The price differences are so negligible that it's definitely worth it to invest in the entry-level internet security packages or even the more advanced and premium ones most of the time.
There is no excuse to leave yourself unprotected with the plethora of choices of both vendors and packages.
Get yourself antivirus internet security now if you haven't already, and if you have a basic package consider upgrading to the best internet security bundles for better experience and value for your money.
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