5 Best Internet Security Software [2020] - Full Malware Protection

Bjorn Johansson
Published on: August 28, 2020
5 Best Internet Security Software [2020] - Full Malware Protection

Short on time? Here’s the best:

I tested the top 50 antiviruses to find the ones with the best internet security protections.

It wasn’t easy — many antivirus software only protects against viruses, and antivirus engines alone don’t do much to help guarantee a person’s online security in 2020.

That’s why a lot of internet security software now includes a wide range of advanced online protections alongside an antivirus engine.

Things like:

  • Anti-phishing — for blocking dangerous websites from stealing your info.
  • Anti-spyware — for protecting your private data from leaking on the web.
  • Anti-ransomware — for stopping ransomware from locking up your device.
  • Firewall — for monitoring and blocking unwanted and suspicious network traffic.
  • Password manager — for creating and storing strong passwords.
  • VPN (virtual private network) — for browsing the web anonymously.
  • Parental controls — for restricting your children’s access to unsuitable content.

Of course, all cybersecurity packages differ greatly in the quality of protection offered, the usefulness of its extra features, and the overall value of the product.

But after several weeks of testing, comparing, and analyzing, I was able to narrow down my list to the top 5 — the ones with the best security, the best features, and the best overall value.

Here’s what I found out.

The Best Internet Security Software of 2020:

🥇1. Norton 360 Deluxe — Best Internet Security Suite in 2020

🥇1. Norton 360 Deluxe — Best Internet Security Suite in 2020

Norton 360 Deluxe has one of the best antivirus engines on the market — combining known malware databases with artificial intelligence and machine learning, Norton scored 100% detection rates on all of my tests.

Norton is my favorite choice for complete protection (on all operating systems), not just because of its excellent malware scanner, but also because of the easy-to-use internet security features it has.

All Norton 360 packages come with:

  • Firewall — blocks dangerous incoming and outgoing internet traffic.
  • Password manager — generates and stores complex passwords.
  • PC SafeCam — makes sure no one can access your PC’s webcam.
  • Dark web monitoring — notifies you the moment your private data ends up on the dark web.
  • Cloud backup — lets you store up to 50 GB of data.
  • VPN (unlimited data) — offers secure connections in over 25 countries.

I particularly like Norton’s VPN — it’s fast, highly encrypted, has a strict “no-logs” policy, can access lots of geo-restricted content, and currently ranks as the #1 best antivirus with a VPN in 2020. And the fact that the VPN comes with unlimited data (even on the cheapest 360 plan) makes it even better.

Norton 360 Standard covers just 1 device and comes with 10 GB cloud storage. Norton 360 Deluxe covers 5 devices (across all OS) and comes with 50 GB cloud storage and parental controls. And Norton’s parental controls are really good — app and website supervision, time limits, location tracking, and a lot more.

Norton 360 is a well-rounded internet security suite ideal for both individuals and families with several devices to protect. You don’t have to be an expert to use any of its additional features, and you can feel at ease knowing that your system is completely protected from all online threats.

Bottom Line

Norton 360 Deluxe is a top-tier internet security suite, offering excellent protection at a great price. Norton’s antivirus engine is one of the most powerful on the market — scoring 100% detection in all of my tests — and all 360 packages come with an impressive set of online security features. Since 360 Deluxe includes up to 5 licences, it’s a perfect choice for individuals or families looking to protect multiple devices. And there’s a 60-day money-back guarantee on all Norton packages.

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Read the full Norton review >

🥈2. McAfee Total Protection — Best for Wi-Fi Network Protection

🥈2. McAfee Total Protection — Best for Wi-Fi Network Protection

McAfee Total Protection is a well-rounded internet security package — it has everything you need to build and maintain a strong online defense in 2020.

For starters, McAfee’s real-time antivirus engine scored a perfect 100% detection rate against all of my test malware. And there are also some great extra features.

All Total Protection plans have:

  • Home Network Security — protects Wi-Fi networks from cyber attacks.
  • Safe Web — browsing extension which blocks potentially dangerous websites.
  • VPN (unlimited data) — securely connects to 22 countries.
  • File encryption — secures sensitive files behind 256-bit AES encryption.
  • File shredder — permanently deletes files.

My favorite feature is Home Network Security. It gives you full control over all the devices connecting to your Wi-Fi network, and it further reinforces your firewall against malware attacks. I also like McAfee’s VPN, which had almost no impact on my browsing speed, even when I connected to servers in Asia from my home in the USA.

If you’re in the US, McAfee’s Multi-Device plan (5 devices) and Family plan (10 devices) also come with identity theft protection, which includes credit monitoring, SSN tracing, and identity restoration insurance (up to $1 million).

The one thing I don’t like is McAfee’s password manager. Total Protection only includes a limited version of True Key — not only is True Key not very good, you don’t even get the full version. That said, McAfee is cheap enough that even after getting another password manager, it’s still one of the best value internet security packages out there.

Bottom Line

McAfee Total Protection is an excellent antivirus package that is particularly great at securing Wi-Fi networks. McAfee comes with additional tools like a VPN, file encryption, a file shredder, and even identity theft protection (if you’re in the US). The Family plan is one of the best value family antiviruses on the market, covering lots of devices for a low price. And all McAfee plans are protected by a 30-day money-back guarantee.

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🥉3. BullGuard Premium Protection — Best Internet Security for Gamers

🥉3. BullGuard Premium Protection — Best Internet Security for Gamers

BullGuard Premium Protection is another top-notch antivirus package with perfect detection rates against my test malware.

While BullGuard isn’t as feature-rich as Norton and McAfee, its packages include some pretty excellent tools — my favorite of which is the Game Booster (it increased my FPS by over 40%), earning BullGuard its spot as the #1 antivirus for gamers in 2020.

BullGuard’s most full-featured package includes extras like parental controls, a firewall, anti-phishing protection, and cloud backup. And like McAfee, BullGuard has its own Home Network Scanner — I was impressed that it found ALL the devices connected to my network, including my speakers and baby monitor!

BullGuard also has its own identity theft protection feature, making sure sensitive data like email addresses and credit card numbers don’t end up in the wrong hands. And unlike McAfee or Norton, BullGuard’s identity theft protection is available to US, Canada, UK, and EU residents.

The biggest downside to BullGuard is that it doesn’t include some features I consider important for complete internet security, like a password manager and a VPN (BullGuard’s VPN can be purchased separately at checkout). But considering that BullGuard’s Game Booster and identity theft protection tools are as good as they are, BullGuard Premium Protection is still a great deal.

Bottom Line

BullGuard Premium Protection is an impressive antivirus and internet security suite, which is particularly good for gamers. Its Game Booster mode optimizes and improves gameplay, and its wide range of internet security tools — a network scanner, a firewall, anti-phishing, and identity theft protection — help make this antivirus package one of the most secure on the market.

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4. TotalAV Total Security — Best Internet Security for Beginners

TotalAV Total Security — Best Internet Security for Beginners

TotalAV’s Total Security is the most advanced online protection suite from TotalAV, but it’s still simple to understand and very easy to use.

TotalAV has an excellent antivirus engine that detected 100% of the malware in my tests, and it comes with lots of online security tools — a safe browsing extension, a firewall, anti-phishing protection, an ad blocker, and a VPN (with unlimited data).

TotalAV’s VPN is quite good, performing much better than even some standalone VPNs. During my tests, I was able to stream geo-restricted content and download torrents using servers from around the world with almost zero slowdown.

Since TotalAV is still new to the antivirus market, it has some work to do before it can outperform top companies like Norton and McAfee. For instance, I would really like to see the company add parental controls and encrypted cloud storage.

That said, if you’re looking for a simple, beginner-friendly security suite that you can install and forget it’s there (on up to 6 devices), TotalAV Total Security is a good choice.

Bottom Line

TotalAV Total Security offers easy-to-use antivirus protection and comes with some pretty good internet security protections. The antivirus engine is fast, lightweight, and highly secure, and the included VPN is comparable in speed to some of the top names in the VPN industry. TotalAV is truly ‘plug and play’ — you’ll be protected within seconds, and it’ll run quietly in the background without you even noticing.

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Read the full TotalAV review >

5. Bitdefender Premium Security — Best for Tech-Savvy Users

Bitdefender Premium Security — Best for Tech-Savvy Users

Bitdefender Premium Security is one of the most comprehensive internet security packages out there, with extra features like a password manager, webcam and microphone protection, parental controls, a file shredder, and a VPN.

Bitdefender’s anti-malware engine is quite advanced — using a sophisticated cloud-based scanner which is not only fast and lightweight, it scored 100% detection rates in all of my tests.

Bitdefender also offers multi-layered protection against ransomware. In addition to recognizing and blocking ransomware, it prevents all unauthorized access to personal files and starts securely backing them up if it detects any suspicious behavior. The password manager and parental controls are also very good, and the VPN is powered by Hotspot Shield, one of the giants of the VPN industry.

The only drawback is that it may be a bit too advanced for the average user. If you’re not tech-savvy and just want an easy way to manage your online security, Bitdefender is not the best choice. But if you’re looking for superior protection and want a ton of advanced security tools, Bitdefender’s Premium Security plan will not disappoint you.

Bottom Line

Bitdefender Premium Security is one of the more advanced cybersecurity packages you can get. It may be a bit excessive for the average user, but the cloud-based antivirus scanner is excellent, and the full-suite package includes a ton of top-quality internet security tools — like a password manager, parental controls, and a VPN.

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Read the full Bitdefender review >

Bonus. Intego Mac Internet Security X9 — Best Internet Security for Mac Users

Bonus. Intego Mac Internet Security X9 — Best Internet Security for Mac Users

If you’re looking for an internet security suite specifically designed for Macs, Intego’s Mac Internet Security X9 is the best there is.

Most of the products on this list are primarily intended for Windows (although they all work well on Mac), so I decided to add one more that exclusively focuses on protecting Macs.

Intego’s internet security package includes:

  • VirusBarrier X9 — antivirus software that protects against Mac-based malware (and PC malware which can spread via your Mac).
  • NetBarrier X9 — two-way network firewall with in-built anti-spyware protections.

Unfortunately, Intego’s Mac Internet Security X9 doesn’t offer much else. If you need something with more advanced features like parental controls, a macOS optimizer, and advanced backup tools, you can upgrade to Intego’s Mac Premium Security X9 package.

Bottom Line

Intego’s Mac Internet Security X9 comes with an exceptional Mac-based malware scanner and a really good firewall. It doesn’t have many of the additional features included in the other packages that made it to my top 5, but it’s an affordable option which has been optimized for Mac protection. Intego offers a free trial, and all packages come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

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Read the full Intego review >

Top Brands That Didn’t Make the Cut

  • Kaspersky — Kaspersky is an easy-to-use antivirus with a good anti-malware engine. Unfortunately, it doesn’t offer identity theft protections, and the scanning engine significantly slowed my system down during testing.
  • Panda — Panda’s got a really good-looking interface, a fast VPN, and tons of special features… but a lot of them just don’t function that well. Things like the parental controls and password manager just aren’t very good, especially when compared to competitors like Norton.
  • Avira — Avira has one of the best malware scanners on the market, but the internet security protections are not the best (the VPN is a bit slow, there’s no identity theft protection, and no parental controls).

How I Rated the Best Internet Security Suites of 2020

  • Malware protection. I only recommend products that can protect against known and emerging threats in real time — viruses, trojans, spyware, ransomware — and anything in between.
  • Internet security features. Internet security suites include a lot of extra features, but not all of them are genuinely useful. I thoroughly tested each feature to figure out whether or not it worked as promised and whether or not it was actually useful.
  • Ease of use. I ranked each product based on the number of steps it took to download, open, and get started, as well as how easy it was to use, troubleshoot, and customize each feature. Bonus points are given for helpful in-app instructions and exceptional customer support.
  • Value. When ranking products on my top list, I took into account how many extra features they offered, how many devices they covered, and whether or not they offered free trials or money-back guarantees. I also checked the prices for the standalone products included in a package in order to determine whether or not the combo provided good value.

🤔Why is internet security important?

Internet security is important because of the huge amount of valuable data most users keep online, and the increasing number of hackers targeting unprotected online accounts.

There’s a growing number of hackers on the internet, and most of them are using increasingly sophisticated malware and social engineering tactics to get access to financial information, online logins, and browsing data.

Without proper internet security protection, you could fall victim to one of these hacks, leaking banking info and credit card numbers, compromising social media accounts, and ultimately becoming a victim of identity theft and fraud.

🤔 What’s the difference between “antivirus” and “internet security”?

Antivirus software protects against computer-based malware like viruses and trojans. Internet security software protects against network-based malware like spyware and ransomware.

That said, today, many internet security suites (like all on this list) offer both an antivirus engine and internet security protection in the same product.

Many antivirus/internet security packages have:

  • Phishing, spyware, and ransomware protection
  • Secure browser extension
  • Identity theft insurance
  • VPN
  • Firewall
  • Dark web monitoring
  • Password manager
  • Encrypted cloud storage
  • …and a lot more

My favorite internet security suite of 2020 is Norton 360 Deluxe — it’s got 100% malware protection, a fast VPN, 50 GB of cloud storage, a highly secure firewall, and excellent parental controls.

🤔 Are there any free internet security programs?

Free internet security software usually comes with a couple of caveats. It either has severely limited functionality, major product flaws, notifications that prevent you from normally using your device, or a secret agenda (like stealing your data).

That said, not all free security software is bad. In fact, I think there are some good free antiviruses for Windows, Android, iOS + Mac, but none of them are nearly as good as the products listed here.

It’s always better to spend a couple bucks a month on a premium internet security suite like Norton 360 than it is to deal with hassles and limitations of a free antivirus.

🤔 Are Google Chrome’s internet security protections any good?

Chrome doesn’t have a lot of online protections — like a VPN, identity theft protection, advanced phishing detection, and encrypted password storage.

Internet security protections from Google (and Apple and Microsoft) have come a long way, but none of them are even close to as good as those offered from major cybersecurity brands like Norton and McAfee.

Most antivirus software in 2020 offers far better protection than anything found in Google Chrome.

Read more about the best antivirus software of 2020 here >

About the Author

Bjorn Johansson
Bjorn Johansson
Cybersecurity researcher and digital rights advocate

About the Author

Bjorn is a cybersecurity researcher and digital rights advocate. Originally from Sweden, he now lives on the Maine coast with his wife and their two kids. When he’s not helping keep the internet safe for everyday people, he enjoys boating with his family and woodworking.
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