Short on time? Here’s the best internet security software in 2021:
- 🥇 Norton 360: Excellent internet security suite that offers complete protection against all malware and cyber threats. Comes with a VPN, parental controls, secure storage, a password manager, and a lot more.
I tested 58 of the top antivirus products to find the ones with the best internet security protections.
But it wasn’t easy. A lot of antivirus programs only offer protection against “viruses”, but viruses are not the only form of malware. That’s why most internet security software now includes an antivirus engine alongside other cybersecurity protections 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 their extra features, and the overall value of each product.
But after several weeks of testing, comparing, and analyzing, I was able to narrow down my list to the top 10 — the ones with the best security, the best features, and the best overall value.
Here’s what I found out.
Quick summary of the best internet security software of 2021:
- 1.🥇 Norton 360 Deluxe — #1 internet security suite for all devices + operating systems.
- 2.🥈 McAfee Total Protection — Excellent antivirus with good internet security tools.
- 3.🥉 TotalAV Total Security — Most beginner-friendly internet security package.
- 4. Bitdefender Premium Security — Well-rounded cybersecurity package with a ton of additional security tools.
- 5. BullGuard Premium Protection — Good antivirus (great for gamers) with online protections.
- Bonus. Intego Mac Premium Bundle X9 — Best internet security software for Macs.
- Numbers 6-10 of 2021’s best internet security suites.
- Frequently Asked Questions about Antiviruses with Internet Security.
How I Rated the Best Internet Security Suites of 2021
- 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.
Top Brands That Didn’t Make the Cut
- AVG/Avast. Both AVG and Avast have been accused of selling users’ personal data to businesses, so we no longer recommend these antiviruses to our readers.
- Comodo. Comodo offers a variety of advanced settings for experienced users. But during my tests, Comodo missed some malware files that the brands on this list all detected. Plus, Comodo significantly slowed my computer down.
- ESET. ESET is a lightweight internet security suite with pretty good malware protection. However, ESET is not as good at detecting internet-based malware like ransomware as the other programs on this list. It’s also pretty expensive, especially if you own multiple devices.
🥇1. Norton 360 Deluxe — Best Internet Security Suite in 2021
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) — in addition to having an excellent malware scanner, Norton also includes a wide range of easy-to-use internet security features.
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 30 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 2021.
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 excellent parental controls — app and website supervision, time limits, location tracking, and a lot more (it’s also ranked as the #1 best antivirus with parental controls).
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.
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 licenses, 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.
🥈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 2021.
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 which gives you full control over all the devices connecting to your Wi-Fi network and it also 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.
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.
🥉3. 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 many 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.
I also really like TotalAV’s anti-phishing browser extension, which blocked more phishing sites in my testing than Chrome or Firefox.
TotalAV doesn’t have as many extras as Norton and McAfee (which both come with additional features like parental controls and encrypted storage), but it offers better identity theft protections — TotalAV’s identity theft protections are available for users in the US, Canada, and most of Europe, whereas Norton and McAfee’s identity theft protections are only available for US users.
If you’re looking for a simple, beginner-friendly security suite that you can install and forget about (on up to 6 devices), TotalAV Total Security is a good choice.
TotalAV Total Security offers easy-to-use antivirus protection and comes with some pretty good internet security tools. 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. There’s a 30-day money-back guarantee on all of TotalAV’s plans.
4. 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 very advanced — using a sophisticated cloud-based scanner, it scored 100% detection rates in all of my tests without slowing down my computer. I was really impressed with Bitdefender’s lightweight scanning — even top competitors like Norton and McAfee cause a little slowdown during full system scans.
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 — during my tests, the password manager accurately auto-filled logins and forms, and the parental controls allowed me to limit device usage, filter content, monitor apps, and even set up location tracking.
Bitdefender’s VPN is decent, too — it’s powered by Hotspot Shield, one of the giants of the VPN industry, but it’s limited to only 200 MB per day. Most competitors offer VPNs with unlimited data in their top-tier plans, so I’d also like to see Bitdefender remove the limitations on its VPN.
Bitdefender may not be the best choice for non-tech-savvy users who want an easy way to manage their online security. But if you’re looking for superior protection and want a ton of advanced security tools, Bitdefender’s Premium Security plan won’t disappoint you.
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. Bitdefender is backed up by a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.
5. BullGuard Premium Protection — Best Internet Security for Gamers
BullGuard Premium Protection uses machine learning to detect the latest and most advanced online threats — it’s another excellent antivirus package with perfect detection rates against my test malware.
While BullGuard isn’t as feature-rich as competitors like Norton and Bitdefender, its packages include some pretty helpful tools — my favorite is the Game Booster which increased my frame rate and load times while gaming, earning BullGuard its spot as the #1 antivirus for gamers in 2021.
BullGuard includes extras like parental controls, a firewall, anti-phishing protection, identity theft protections, and cloud backup. Like TotalAV, BullGuard’s identity theft protections use Experian’s international network to provide live credit/dark web monitoring in countries across North America and Europe.
While I like most of BullGuard’s tools, I think its parental controls need some improvement — if you’re looking for a good internet security suite to keep your kids safe online and encourage healthy digital habits, Norton is a much better choice.
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.
BullGuard Premium Protection is a good internet security suite with a unique Game Booster for PC gamers. In addition to optimizing and improving gameplay, BullGuard has helpful cybersecurity protections, like a firewall, anti-phishing protection, and identity theft protection. There’s a 30-day money-back guarantee on all of BullGuard’s plans.
6. Avira Prime — Fast Virus Scans & Secure Browsing
Avira Prime has one of the best antivirus engines around — it runs entirely in the cloud, so it’s fast, lightweight, and doesn’t cause lags or slowdown.
During my tests, Avira’s antivirus engine identified all of the malware samples I placed on my computer, and the real-time protection feature blocked all of the malware files I tried running.
Avira also has an excellent Safe Shopping browser extension which identified and blocked more phishing sites in my tests than most competitors. The extension is also very useful because it also blocks browser tracking, preventing companies from tracking your online activity and delivering ads based on your browsing habits. One other cool thing about this extension is that it helps you find the best shopping deals online.
Avira comes with an excellent VPN as well — it’s secure, fast, and very easy to use. The VPN allowed me to access the European versions of geo-restricted streaming platforms, and it barely affected my internet speed even while watching video in HD.
Avira Prime is the company’s best internet security suite, and it covers up to 5 devices across all operating systems (the mobile apps also come with really good anti-theft protection and a network scanner).
Avira has a lightweight cloud-based antivirus engine with perfect detection rates as well as excellent web protection. I’m particularly impressed with Avira’s Safe Shopping browser extension which prevents phishing attacks, blocks browser tracking and ads, and finds the best shopping deals. Avira Prime also has a VPN, a password manager, a game booster, system tune-up, and more. There’s a 30-day money-back guarantee on all Avira purchases.
7. Panda Dome Complete — Intuitive User Interface with Lots of Additional Security Protections
Panda Dome Complete has a good malware scanner, an easy-to-use interface, and more additional features than most competitors. Panda uses artificial intelligence to protect devices from all types of malware — in my tests, Panda found most of my malware samples (95% detection rate), but it missed some adware and spyware files that competitors like Norton were able to detect.
Panda’s most prominent feature is the Rescue Kit which lets users save infected PCs via a USB stick. I also like Panda’s user-friendly password manager and file encrypter and shredder which locks and permanently deletes sensitive files.
However, not all of Panda’s extras are that good. For instance, the web protection needs some serious improvement (only 50% detection rate in my tests). I also think the parental controls aren’t very useful (they’re just too basic), and the virtual keyboard which is supposed to protect from keyloggers should be a lot bigger.
Panda Dome offers 5 different plans, which range from a free plan with real-time protection for Windows to the Panda Dome Premium plan, which comes with a VPN with no limitations. However, I recommend most users get the best-value Panda Dome Complete plan, as I don’t think Panda’s VPN is worth the upgrade.
Panda Dome Complete offers good malware protection and is one of the most feature-rich internet security suites on the market — although not all of its extra features are that good. Panda detected most of my test malware, and I was impressed with its intuitive interface and unique features like the Rescue Kit. However, Panda’s web protection is pretty bad, the unlimited VPN is only available with the most expensive package, and the parental controls are too basic. If you’re interested, you can try Panda risk-free with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
8. Kaspersky Total Security — Best for Online Shoppers
Kaspersky Total Security has a good antivirus scanner (100% detection rate) and plenty of extra internet security features — including a VPN, parental controls, a password manager, webcam protections, and a secure browser for online financial management.
During my tests, Kaspersky’s Safe Money feature detected when I was making purchases and it automatically opened a new browser that analyzed sites for security risk, blocked pop-ups and trackers, and gave me an onscreen keyboard to deter keylogging hackers.
I also like Kaspersky’s parental controls which come with very helpful features like setting up safe searches on YouTube, monitoring your child’s activity on social networks like Facebook, and blocking games and other entertainment apps.
Kaspersky’s password manager and VPN are also really good — although the VPN is limited to just 200 MB per day and lets you connect to just 1 server.
Kaspersky’s Total Security has excellent malware detection and some pretty cool features for securing online finances. Kaspersky also has comprehensive parental controls, a good password manager, and a solid VPN — although the VPN is pretty limited. While Kaspersky offers good protection, I think all of its plans are a little bit too expensive when compared to competitors with a similar amount of features. All Kaspersky purchases come with a risk-free 30-day free guarantee.
9. Malwarebytes Premium — Simple Security with a Good Antivirus Engine
Malwarebytes Premium is an easy-to-use internet security suite for users looking for malware and web protection… and not much else. Malwarebytes’s antivirus engine uses artificial intelligence to block malware in real-time — during my tests, Malwarebytes detected all of my malware samples, but I was pretty annoyed that it flagged more false-positives than most other antivirus suites.
Malwarebytes also comes with a browser extension that prevents phishing attacks, blocks sites with malware (including cryptojackers), and removes ads. Malwarebytes claims that this extension speeds up web browsing, but I didn’t notice that my browsing was any faster than usual.
Malwarebytes Premium lacks most of the features found in premium competitors like Norton, McAfee, and Bitdefender, but it’s a simple and affordable internet security suite which covers 1-10 devices across all operating systems. Users looking to protect their online activity and access geo-restricted content should consider Malwarebytes Premium + Privacy which also adds a really good VPN.
Malwarebytes is a highly effective anti-malware program, but it lacks most of the additional features I want to see in an internet security suite. Malwarebytes Premium has a good antivirus engine and decent web protection, whereas Malwarebytes Premium + Privacy adds a good VPN. The company offers a generous 60-day money-back guarantee on both plans.
10. Intego Mac Premium Bundle X9 — Best Internet Security Software for Mac
Intego’s Premium Bundle X9 is the best Mac internet security suite out there.
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 focuses on protecting Macs.
Intego has excellent real-time malware protection which blocked all of the Mac-specific malware samples I threw at it — including newer spyware samples that macOS antiviruses from competitors like Panda missed.
Intego’s other features include:
- Anti-phishing protection.
- Device optimization tool.
- Parental controls.
- File backup.
All of Intego’s additional features offer significant improvement over Apple’s built-in Mac protections. I was especially impressed by Intego’s “Smart Firewall”, which automatically adjusts settings based on network traffic. I also really like the phishing detection feature, which blocked more suspicious sites in my tests than Safari or Chrome.
Intego Mac Internet Security X9 has a firewall, anti-phishing, and malware protection. But if you’re looking for additional parental controls, an awesome file backup feature, and support across multiple devices, then Intego’s Premium Bundle X9 is the right choice for you.
Intego Mac Premium Bundle X9 improves macOS’s internet security tools in every way — excellent malware scanning, good anti-phishing protections, and a smart firewall. I really like the parental controls and file backup which both offer a ton of customization options that macOS doesn’t include. All of Intego’s plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
FAQs — Internet Security Software
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
- Dark web monitoring
- Password manager
- Encrypted cloud storage
- …and a lot more
My favorite internet security suite of 2021 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 2021 offers far better protection than anything found in Google Chrome.