Cylance Smart Antivirus Review 2020 - Is it Any Good? 

Scott Jackson
Scott Jackson
Published on: September 16, 2020

Detailed Expert Review

I tested Cylance Smart Antivirus against the latest malware — viruses, ransomware, trojans, spyware, and more. I also looked for helpful additional features and assessed the antivirus’s overall ease of use, comparing Cylance to the best antiviruses on the market.

Cylance’s AI-based malware scanner was very quick to detect and quarantine 100% of the ransomware files and 95% of the malware files on my test PC. But it did miss a few malware samples that other antiviruses detected.

Cylance is a bit basic when compared to Norton and McAfee, both of which offer a huge range of premium internet security tools. But Cylance is far cheaper than any full-suite antivirus package, and it still offers a high level of malware protection.

I’m a bit disappointed by Cylance’s lack of a desktop app. However, instead of a desktop app, Cylance has a very easy-to-use web dashboard — one that’s fully capable of protecting not only your device, but all devices connected to your Cylance account.

Overall, Cylance Smart Antivirus does a good job of protecting against most internet-based malware, and if you’re looking for a cheap, simple antivirus scanner, Cylance is a good option.

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Cylance Security Features

Cylance Security Features

Cylance Smart Antivirus uses artificial intelligence (AI) to power its malware scanner. This scanning engine is also cloud-based, which means that the antivirus uses a much smaller amount of resources than an antivirus which needs to be installed on the computer.

I was impressed by Cylance’s AI engine, which monitors a system and learns how various malicious programs are likely to behave. Then, based on the AI engine’s findings, Cylance will stop all files and processes that look suspicious.

Instead of notifying users about the threats, Cylance quarantines dangerous files and automatically deletes them after one month. This hands-off approach is great for people who don’t want to spend time manually removing quarantined malware files.

One important thing to note is that there’s no desktop interface — Cylance Smart Antivirus is operated on a web-based dashboard. The web dashboard is pretty cool, as it shows the security status of all devices, and it also gives options to remotely remove malware from any device covered by your Cylance subscription.

Personally, I’d prefer Cylance to offer a desktop app, but the web-based dashboard is still very easy to use. And I like how I could easily see the security status of all my devices — perfect for users who need to protect multiple devices.

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Malware Scanner

Cylance’s malware scanner is both powerful and easy to use. But unlike regular antivirus scanners, Cylance does not offer an easy option to manually run system scans. I did manage to locate a manual scanning option, but it was tricky to find, and it isn’t something Cylance expects you to use.

Cylance has developed their Smart Antivirus software to focus on real-time protection — continuously scanning devices for malware threats. This does make life a lot easier for most users who probably don’t want to spend time manually running virus scans. However, I would like to see Cylance include a much easier-to-access manual scan option.

Once I installed Cylance Smart Antivirus, I launched various ransomware files onto my test PC — Cylance successfully identified and quarantined all 35 ransomware threats.

Cylance Security Features

I then tested Cylance with a huge folder of malware samples, including generic malware, spyware, trojans, viruses, and more. Out of just over 1,100 malware samples, 52 were not detected by Cylance. This is a pretty decent score for a malware scanner — a 95% detection rate is very close to the industry standard. However, this is not as good as other antiviruses, like Norton or Avira, which both had a 100% virus detection rate in our tests.

I re-scanned my PC using Norton, and it successfully picked up all of the 52 malware samples missed by Cylance.

An example of a missed malware file issue I had was when I downloaded a trojan file from a malicious email message to my test PC. I found that the trojan file was not quarantined by Cylance. I even performed a manual Cylance scan, but the malicious file still went undetected.

Cylance Security Features

However, the same email trojan threat was successfully picked up by Windows Defender. This was a little frustrating, especially since Windows Defender isn’t nearly as good as Cylance!

Cylance Security Features

On a positive note, Cylance is extremely lightweight. Cylance saves computer resources by only scanning files that are attempting to run suspicious processes, including newly downloaded files and files transfered from external drives. This method saves a lot of CPU power that would usually be eaten up by antiviruses that perform full system scans.

Overall, Cylance Smart Antivirus provides a very good level of malware protection. With a 100% ransomware detection rate and a 95% malware detection rate, I can rate Cylance alongside some of the best antiviruses on the market. While it didn’t score a perfect detection rate, Cylance can still be considered a very good antivirus.

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Cylance Cloud File Scanner

Cylance sends suspicious files to the “Cylance Cloud” for more advanced scanning.

By default, the option to automatically send suspicious files to Cylance’s cloud for analysis is turned on — but you can disable it manually from the web dashboard. That said, I found no real reason to turn it off, as it mostly improves Cylance’s malware protection capabilities.

Cylance Security Features

When samples are sent to the Cylance Cloud, they are checked against the most recently discovered threats uploaded to the Cylance Cloud network. This is similar to many antiviruses which also scan files against a continuously updating cloud database of newly discovered malware.

I didn’t receive any notifications when my files were uploaded or scanned in the Cylance Cloud, so I wasn’t entirely sure if or when it was functioning. But I know that having it turned on not only benefits me, but also other Cylance users, as it makes for faster detection against brand new viruses and malware.

While I think this feature is great, I don’t think it’s necessarily better than other antiviruses that also use cloud-based technology. Avira, Bitdefender, Panda, and many others all power their manual scanning engines with cloud-based technology. That said, I like the fact that Cylance offers this advanced level of malware protection at a much cheaper cost than many competing antiviruses.

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Web Dashboard

Cylance Security Features

Cylance’s web dashboard is the default interface for managing Cylance Smart Antivirus. I could use the web dashboard to add or remove devices, view my devices’ protection status, adjust the settings, and manage quarantined files.

One thing to keep in mind is that performing any operation through the Cylance dashboard requires an internet connection, so Cylance isn’t a good option for people who want to manage their antivirus settings while offline.

The web dashboard is pretty easy to navigate. I had no trouble accessing the settings, and I could easily see a detailed overview of each device’s security status. I also really liked that all threats could be seen from the right-hand column on the main display.

I could remotely manage other devices from the web dashboard, meaning if Cylance had quarantined malware files on my desktop PC, I could remove the files from my desktop by using the web dashboard on my laptop — which is pretty cool.

Overall, I really like Cylance’s dashboard. It has a nice, easy-to-use layout, and I like that it’s possible to remotely manage other devices. The fact that the dashboard requires an internet connection may be an issue for some, so alternatives like Norton or TotalAV may be better for users who want to manage their antivirus via an offline app. But as most devices are typically connected to the internet, I don’t think the lack of an offline desktop app will be a big concern for most users.

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Popup Client

Cylance’s popup client gives you a clear breakdown of malware threats and events. It has a simplistic layout which shows the time and date of a specific event, such as a malware attack, when a suspicious file was moved to quarantine, and when a file has been marked as safe.

Cylance Security Features

It can be easily accessed from the system tray of the Windows Taskbar.

Cylance Security Features

Mac users can access it from the Cylance logo at the top right corner of the toolbar.

I found this popup window useful for quick monitoring of Cylance’s activities. It meant that I didn’t have to log into the web dashboard to get an overview of my computer’s security. But if I did need to access the dashboard to perform any actions, the My Dashboard shortcut made it easy to instantly load the web dashboard.

I personally don’t think the popup client is a sufficient replacement for a desktop app. I would also like to see Cylance include a “Clear Quarantined Threats” button on the popup client, so I don’t have to log into the web dashboard to remove quarantined malware files.

That said, I think the popup client is a handy feature that most users will find useful.

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Cylance Plans and Pricing

All Cylance Smart Antivirus plans include the same features outlined here, and the only difference is how many devices you want on your plan: 1 device, 5 devices, or 10 devices.

All Cylance plans are available as a 1-month, 1-year, or 2-year subscription. Cylance does not have a free version or offer any free trials. However, all Cylance subscriptions come with an unconditional 30-day money back guarantee, so there’s enough time to try it and see if it’s the right choice for you.

All of Cylance’s personal plans are priced much cheaper than most other popular antivirus packages, and the 10-device plan is the best value. However, it’s worth noting that Cylance lacks nearly all of the additional features offered by competitors, like device optimization tools and VPNs offered by antiviruses like Norton 360, which explains Cylance’s low price.

Please note: Cylance Smart Antivirus is only available in the US, Canada, UK, Ireland, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. Also, their mobile app for iOS is only available for US residents, but Cylance’s Android app is available in all previously mentioned locations.

It’s great to see that Cylance promises no price hikes after the first year of use, so users who are happy with Cylance do not need to switch to a competitor just to get a better deal. This is where Cylance has an advantage over such industry heavyweights as McAfee or Norton, who typically charge more after the first year of coverage.

Overall, I like that Cylance keeps its plans and pricing simple and offers a full set of features with every plan. Most antivirus programs offer a wider range of features when compared to Cylance, hence why Cylance is much cheaper. But this makes Cylance good for users who want simple yet effective malware protection for a low cost. Honestly, the lack of a free trial is a bit disappointing. But the 30-day money-back guarantee will give you enough time to see if Cylance is a good antivirus for you.

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Cylance Getting Started

Cylance Smart Antivirus is very easy to set up.

After paying for my plan, I received an email inviting me to create my Cylance account and detailing how to use the software.

Cylance only offers a web interface — the Smart Antivirus dashboard — for setting up and managing the program. The dashboard works in Chrome, Edge, Safari, and Firefox.

Once I logged into my Cylance account, I needed to click on Add A Device in the dashboard to get started.

Cylance Getting Started

This took me to the next screen where I could start downloading Smart Antivirus onto my computer. I was also given the option to send installation links for my other devices — including my Android, MacBook, and iPhone.

Cylance Getting Started

Before I could complete the installation, I was asked to enter a “token” from my dashboard. The “token” was just a code found at the bottom of the Settings tab of the dashboard that I needed to copy and paste into a field during the installation process. For every device I wanted to connect, I needed to generate a new token, so I had to generate a new token for my Android, MacBook, and iPhone.

Cylance Getting Started

It was great that Cylance didn’t require me to restart my PC to complete the installation. Most desktop-based antiviruses require restarting the computer to complete the installation process, which I find to be time consuming and annoying.

After the installation was complete, my PC was added to the list of My Devices in my dashboard, and I could see its current status.

Cylance Getting Started

Once the installation had finished, Cylance started operating in real-time in the background, stopping any files that looked malicious from running and putting them in quarantine.

Overall, Cylance Smart Antivirus is very easy to set up — much faster than full-suite antiviruses like Norton and Avira. All I needed to do was pay for my plan, create my Cylance account, download Smart Antivirus from the dashboard, and install it onto my PC.

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Cylance Mobile App

Cylance Smart Antivirus mobile apps are available for both iOS and Android.

However, the iOS version is currently available to US residents only. Annoyingly, no information about restricted access to the iOS app is available on Cylance’s website. So, non-US residents with iOS devices will have to find another antivirus app for their iPhone or iPad.

Cylance’s Android app is available in all countries where Cylance is sold. However, the setup process is a bit confusing. When trying to download Cylance Smart Antivirus onto my Android device, I was asked to agree to become a Cylance tester with no option to say no.

Cylance Mobile App

However, the next screen informed me that I was “being removed from the beta program” — what?? So confusing!

Cylance Mobile App

I was able to eventually download the app after clicking Rejoin  but the version I got was still in beta! After installing the app, I was asked to activate it using my token — and only then was I finally able to start using it.

I’d like to see Cylance clear up this issue, as it may really confuse non-tech-savvy users.

Cylance’s Android and iOS app both have a range of features, including various scan options that show potential security issues. But the Android app also includes real-time virus scanning — the iOS version doesn’t include real-time virus scanning because iOS devices are at much less risk of being affected by viruses.

Once I’d set up the Cylance Android app, it performed an automatic initial scan of my device and displayed the results in an easy-to-understand way.

Cylance Mobile App

The initial scan showed my results in 3 different tabs:

  • Device Safety listed recommendations for making my phone more secure, like enabling screen lock and turning off the developer mode.
  • Network Safety checked the security of my internet connection.
  • Apps Safety looked for any suspicious apps installed on my phone.

Luckily, no malicious apps or malware files were found on my Android. But the scan did reveal some security issues, like the fact that there wasn’t a passcode set for my Android. The detailed results of my Android and iPhone device’s safety scans were also displayed in my web dashboard.

Cylance Mobile App 

Cylance for Android also allows initiating manual scans of apps. This is useful if you download apps after the first initial scan, just so you’re 100% sure that the app you’ve downloaded is secure.

Cylance Mobile App

Overall, I got the impression that Cylance’s mobile apps are still in their early days, and they were put on the market mostly for beta testing purposes. I don’t think that giving paying Android users access to the beta version is a good idea. I was also not impressed to learn that paying Cylance users from outside the US can’t access the iOS app.

That said, I liked the easy-to-understand options that the Cylance mobile app for Android offered, as well as the ability to monitor the status of mobile devices through the web dashboard.

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Cylance Customer Support

Cylance does not offer phone support, but you can contact them by email via a link at the top right-hand corner of their support page.

Cylance Customer Support

I submitted a question using the online support form and received an auto-reply from Cylance (as shown below) that did not indicate when I could expect an answer from them.

Cylance Customer Support

I received a reply to my email asking for more details in about 7 hours — not bad, but not the best!

However, I was not impressed with the quality of support I received. It looked like Cylance’s support staff tried to answer my question as quickly as possible without paying much attention to it, as they kept asking for details that I had already provided. It took me 3 more hours and 2 more emails to get an answer to a basic question about the Cylance mobile app for iOS!

However, Cylance does offer some useful resources on their website, including:

  • “How to” guides. A section of Cylance’s site that contains step-by-step guides with screenshots. The guides cover a number of common installation, operation, and account management questions.
  • Common issues. A page that lists current problems experienced when installing and running Cylance, along with suggested workarounds.
  • Getting started. Shows Cylance’s Smart Antivirus system requirements and resources like the user manual and a quick start guide.
  • FAQ. Offers in-depth and helpful explanations to common setup questions.

The FAQs and guides are actually pretty good. They’re very detailed, and I was able to find answers to many issues regarding setup and how to use certain features.

I wanted to post a question to the community of Cylance users. So, I followed a link from their website — and I got to a page that appears to be completely inactive!

Cylance Customer Support

However, if you access the community using the Support option of your dashboard, you are taken to a different page where there is some activity — again, this is extremely confusing!

Cylance Customer Support

Overall, I’m not exactly thrilled by Cylance’s customer support. Their support team isn’t as responsive as I would like, and the quality of the support I received from them wasn’t great.

Currently, there is no phone support and no live chat available. I also couldn’t find any information about Cylance support’s operating hours. By contrast, Norton and McAfee offer phone, live chat, and 24/7 email support. That said, Cylance’s FAQs and online guides are pretty helpful for resolving a lot of common issues.

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Final Verdict: Is Cylance Smart Antivirus Any Good?

Cylance Smart Antivirus is good for a few reasons — it’s a powerful, AI-based malware scanner which is inexpensive, lightweight, and particularly good at providing a “hands-off” approach to virus protection.

It’s got an intuitive web-based dashboard, and it’s designed to be incredibly simple to use — the real-time scanner is always active, and quarantined files are automatically removed after a month.

I think the mobile applications need some work, as there were many things about them that were particularly confusing to use. I also don’t like the fact the iOS app can’t be used outside of the US.

While there are a lot of great customer support resources available on Cylance’s website, I didn’t have particularly good encounters with Cylance’s support team, and I feel that there should be more contact options available (instead of only email).

Overall, Cylance doesn’t have any of the extra features that the best internet security suites have, but what it does, it does well — good antivirus protection at a low price.

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Cylance — Frequently Asked Questions

Does Cylance have a free version?

No. Cylance Smart Antivirus does not have a free version and does not offer free trials of its packages.

However, the company offers an unconditional 30-day money back guarantee with all paid plans, so you can try it to see if it’s good enough for your needs before committing to a paid plan.

Is Cylance Smart Antivirus safe to use?

Yes. Cylance Smart Antivirus is a safe and trusted antivirus.

Cylance is a well-established brand that uses artificial intelligence (AI) technology to power its antivirus engine, blocking threats before they even have a chance to damage your device or steal personal data.

I’ve thoroughly tested Cylance for its security, usability, and overall protection from malware and other cyber threats, and indeed, it’s a very good product.

You can try Cylance Smart Antivirus risk-free for 30 days to see if it’s the right antivirus for you and your devices.

Does Cylance require an internet connection to operate?

Yes. Cylance Smart Antivirus runs via a web-based dashboard that requires an internet connection to be accessed. Cylance does not offer a desktop interface at the moment. You need to use the web interface to monitor the status of your devices, adjust Cylance’s settings, remove files from quarantine, and perform any other operations.

Cylance’s web interface is actually pretty useful, as it allows users to manage all of their devices from any location. From the web interface, you can manage and remove quarantined files from specific devices.

If you need a decent antivirus that can be installed and run offline, you can try Norton or McAfee.

What is the best Cylance plan for me?

Cylance Smart Antivirus offers only one plan with 3 tiers:

The 1-device plan is enough for single users looking to protect their PC. The 5-device and 10-device plans are suitable for families and small business teams. The 10-device plan is the best value if you are looking to protect multiple devices.

All of the plans include the same features and come with a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try Cylance risk-free before deciding if it’s good enough for your device.

If you’re looking for an affordable AI-based antivirus with more additional features, Norton and Avira are also competitively priced, and include tools like parental controls, a virtual private network (VPN), gaming protection, and much more.

Cylance Smart Antivirus Products & Pricing

Personal 1 Device
Household 5 Devices
Family 10 Devices
Bottom Line

Cylance Smart Antivirus provides good, inexpensive malware protection. Cylance is lightweight and blocked all ransomware and most malware files during my tests. It doesn’t include a lot of additional features like Norton 360 or Avira Prime, and Cylance needs to improve its mobile apps. That said, Cylance is very easy to set up and use, making it a good option for users who want a simple, low-cost antivirus.

About the Author

Scott Jackson
Scott Jackson
Internet security researcher

About the Author

Scott Jackson is an internet security researcher who has spent the last two decades working as an IT technician, programmer, and cybersecurity consultant with more than a dozen Fortune 500 companies. He spends his time researching hacking trends and helping make sure that people stay safe on the internet.

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Cylance Smart Antivirus User Reviews

2 1
Based on 3 reviews in 3 languages 3.2
Language
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Wayne
Wayne
United States
0.5
be aware
Windows User
[email protected]

Mar 1, 13:28 MST

I sent this information to you in an email but have not received a response so I want to ty again to provide it. I think it should be helpful.
> Okay folks. Cylance is frustrating me to no end and I have not yet even done a system scan
> which I am supposing will be an option.
I have installed on 2 machines, Both installations were a little confusing. I suppose you will tell me I should have read the

but when the installation gerts to the install folder location, it says "desktop." With the first install I made the mistake of
changing that. I do not remember what I did, but after installaion I had all these Cylance files and folders literally on my desktop
fortunately, I install programs with ...Show More
user avatar
Another user Wayne
Our own experience is that the thing is a nightmare. Endless false positives and performance problems. Our own IT department got sold the thing, and as end users we are stuck with it. Each time there is a problem we have to cre...Show More

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