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10 Best Anti-Spyware Software — Full Analysis 2023

Updated on: September 12, 2023
Fact Checked by Katarina Glamoslija
Conor Walsh Conor Walsh
Updated on: September 12, 2023

Short on time? Here’s the best anti-spyware software in 2023:

I tested nearly 70 anti-spyware apps and found that premium antiviruses provide the best protection against spyware — as well as protecting you against all other types of malware, like viruses, worms, ransomware, and rootkits, and offering a wide range of additional security and privacy tools to keep you safe online.

The best antiviruses use massive online malware databases that are continuously updated, alongside advanced detection and removal methods — like behavioral analysis and machine learning.

However, not every antivirus or anti-spyware tool is effective. Many missed significant spyware samples and other threats throughout my tests.

So, I’ve created a list of the 10 best antiviruses that can detect, remove, and alert you to spyware and malware threats in 2023. My top picks also provide a wide range of additional security features, including anti-phishing/suspicious site protections, built-in VPNs, microphone and webcam protections, dark web monitoring, and much more.

The clear winner is Norton 360. Aside from detecting 100% of malware in every test — including some of the most obscure spyware — its suite of internet security tools is the best in the industry. It’s easy to use, excellent value, and offers everything from parental controls to dark web monitoring in one simple package.

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Quick summary of the best anti-spyware software in 2023:

🥇1. Norton — Best Overall Anti-Spyware Protection in 2023

🥇1. Norton — Best Overall Anti-Spyware Protection in 2023

Norton 360 offers the best overall protection against spyware and other internet threats in 2023. Its malware scanner uses a unique scanning engine powered by a massive malware database, heuristic analysis, and machine learning to detect every kind of malware threat, including many that most other antiviruses miss.

During my tests, Norton detected and removed 100% of the spyware samples on my PC. And once I turned on Norton’s real-time protection, it stopped me from downloading a single piece of malware (including spyware samples) from a test hard drive.

Norton comes with a ton of extra features, such as:

  • Smart firewall.
  • Privacy protection.
  • VPN (virtual private network).
  • Dark web monitoring.
  • Password manager.
  • Webcam protection (Windows only).
  • Parental controls.
  • And much more…

Norton’s additional security features are the best in the industry (only rivaled by Bitdefender). Its dark web monitoring, which is powered by both automated scanning and human intervention, monitors dark web forums, data breach databases, and other platforms to notify you of a data breach that contains your personal information or private data (including credit card details, passwords, and much more). No other antivirus utilizes human agents in its dark web monitoring. This makes Norton unique. However, this service is only available on the 360 Deluxe plan to customers in 20+ countries.

Norton’s Privacy Monitor scans popular data brokerage websites for your personally identifying information (PII). Privacy Monitor compiles any PII belonging to you from various brokers onto a single list. You can then manually request the brokers remove you from their lists or subscribe to Norton’s Privacy Monitor Assistant (for an additional fee), and a Norton agent will contact them for you.

I also really like Norton’s webcam protection, which prevents hackers from remotely controlling your webcam and spying on you directly. This adds another layer of security and peace of mind. However, it’s only available for Windows.

Starting at $54.99 / year, Norton offers a range of plans that all provide excellent value. Its entry-level AntiVirus Plus plan comes with the fewest features, but it has real-time malware protection that guarantees complete protection against all types of threats — including spyware — as well as a firewall, password manager, and 2 GB cloud storage. You can install it on a single device.

Norton’s 360 plans include additional security tools for multiple devices. Norton 360 Deluxe ($49.99 / year) is the best-value plan. It includes Norton’s advanced security features — a VPN with unlimited data, dark web monitoring, parental controls, and much more — and covers up to 5 devices. Norton offers a 60-day money-back guarantee on all its plans.

Norton - 56% off
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Bottom Line:

Norton has the best anti-spyware capabilities out of any software on the market. In addition to 100% malware detection and removal rates, its real-time protection immediately blocked all of the spyware samples I tried launching during testing. Norton also provides additional internet security features like dark web monitoring, privacy monitoring, and webcam protection. US users can gain access to Norton’s LifeLock identity theft protections. There’s a 60-day money-back guarantee on all of Norton’s plans.


Read the full Norton review here >

🥈2. Bitdefender — Excellent Spyware Detection & Tons of Additional Features

🥈2. Bitdefender — Excellent Spyware Detection & Tons of Additional Features

Bitdefender’s advanced cloud-based scanner is one of the best on the market — capable of detecting and removing every kind of spyware and malware. It removed all of the malware samples from my computer, including hidden spyware that was bundled with legitimate programs. And unlike many other antiviruses that can slow down your device during scans, Bitdefender’s scanner operates in the cloud, so its scans didn’t affect my computer’s performance.

Bitdefender also includes:

  • Firewall.
  • Anti-phishing protections.
  • Secure browser (Safepay).
  • VPN (limited to 200 MB per day per device on most plans).
  • Webcam and microphone protection.
  • Parental controls.
  • Password manager.
  • System optimizer.
  • And much more…

I really like Bitdefender’s secure browser, Safepay. It’s a completely isolated, read-only browser window for online transactions — spyware can’t monitor your traffic, gather information through screen capture, or infect the toolbar or search engines. If you regularly visit banking sites or even payment websites like PayPal, Safepay is an excellent tool to keep your private data and login credentials hidden. However, it can be a bit buggy and slow, especially when streaming. If you just want to use a single browser for everything, Norton’s Safe Web browser extension might be better, as it works best across all websites.

Bitdefender’s VPN is one of the best antivirus-bundled VPNs on the market. Built on Hotspot Shield’s lightweight VPN software, it’s fast, secure, and easy to use. However, when I tested it, every major streaming service flagged that I was using a VPN and blocked me. Also, on most plans, you’re limited to 200 MB per day per device — which is almost nothing. If you need to protect unlimited data and want to use a VPN for streaming, I suggest a standalone VPN like ExpressVPN.

Bitdefender offers a huge range of extra security and privacy features. For example, its phishing, webcam, and microphone protections are all excellent, providing important extra layers of protection against hackers. Its parental control features are also among the best on the market. You’ll be able to monitor your kids and keep them safe online via Bitdefender’s easy-to-use parental control app.

Starting at $14.99 / year, Bitdefender offers a range of plans to suit most needs and budgets. Bitdefender Total Security ($35.99 / year) is the best value, providing all of Bitdefender’s features for up to 5 devices across Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android. If you’re only looking for PC protection, you can get Bitdefender’s Antivirus Plus ($19.99 / year), which protects 3 Windows PCs, or Internet Security ($32.99 / year), which adds features like parental controls and a firewall. Bitdefender has a 30-day money-back guarantee on all of its plans.

Bitdefender Total Security - 64% off
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Bottom Line:

Bitdefender quickly and effectively detects and removes all types of malware, including spyware. It barely slowed my system down during scans, and it has an excellent range of additional security features — I especially like the secure Safepay browser, which secures all online transactions. Bitdefender has a 30-day money-back guarantee on all of its plans.


Read the full Bitdefender review here >

🥉3. TotalAV — Good Spyware Protection for Beginners

🥉3. TotalAV — Good Spyware Protection for Beginners

TotalAV has an easy-to-use antivirus scanner and a decent variety of security features, making it a great option for beginners and less-techy users. It uses a whitelisted version of Avira’s malware scanner, which is one of the best in the market.

In my testing, TotalAV detected 99% of the spyware on my system, including browser extensions like CoolWebSearch and even rootkit/spyware hybrids like Look2Me. However, this still isn’t quite as good as Norton and Bitdefender, which both detected 100%.

TotalAV also offers:

  • Real-time malware protection.
  • Anti-phishing protection.
  • VPN (with unlimited data).
  • Ad blocker.
  • Password manager.
  • System clean-up tools.

If you’re not the most tech-savvy person, you’ll appreciate TotalAV’s simple interface. After I downloaded TotalAV, it automatically scheduled a system scan and initiated real-time protection. I was able to access and customize all of TotalAV’s features — including the VPN, system optimization tools, and password manager — with just a few clicks on the desktop app.

I also really like TotalAV’s VPN, which comes with unlimited data. It maintains good speeds, works with every major streaming site, and supports torrenting. If you don’t want to download a separate VPN and just want something that performs well and is easy to use, TotalAV offers the best antivirus-VPN bundle available.

TotalAV’s system clean-up tools are great. They will improve the overall performance of your computer and ensure it’s running smoothly by removing junk and duplicate files, managing apps, and clearing out your browser. The browser clean-up tool is especially useful, as it makes deleting tracking cookies much easier — a huge boost to your privacy. Overall, TotalAV helped me delete 4 GB of junk.

All TotalAV packages include anti-spyware protection. TotalAV Antivirus Pro is a good basic package, providing malware scanning and system tune-up for up to 3 devices for $19.00 / year, while TotalAV Internet Security adds a VPN and covers up to 5 devices for $39.00 / year. TotalAV Total Security adds an ad blocker, a password manager, and coverage for up to 6 devices for $49.00 / year. TotalAV also offers a free plan that includes on-demand scanning and phishing protection for 1 Windows device. The paid plans are all covered by a 30-day money-back guarantee.

TotalAV - 84% off
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Bottom Line:

TotalAV has good anti-spyware protection and a solid range of additional features inside an easy-to-use interface. Users looking to protect their systems from spyware and malware without dealing with a confusing user interface will love TotalAV’s mix of simplicity and quality. All of TotalAV’s plans are available with a 30-day money-back guarantee.


Read the full TotalAV review here >

4. McAfee — Advanced Anti-Spyware That’s Great for Families

4. McAfee — Advanced Anti-Spyware That’s Great for Families

McAfee offers excellent spyware detection and removal rates, as well as a variety of useful internet security tools on an unlimited number of devices. Its scanner detected 100% of my malware samples, including various types of spyware. However, the scanner slowed down my computer significantly while it was running. I could still browse the internet and perform simple tasks, but streaming was impossible. Competitors like Norton and Bitdefender achieve 100% detection without impacting performance.

McAfee’s huge range of internet security features includes:

  • Firewall.
  • Wi-Fi network protection (Android and iOS only).
  • Anti-phishing and web protection.
  • Unlimited-data VPN (for auto-renewal subscribers).
  • Parental controls.
  • Password manager.
  • Identity theft protection (in certain countries).
  • And much more…

McAfee is one of the best antiviruses for families, with the option of unlimited device coverage and excellent parental controls. It’s also easy to use, with preset filters for web and app usage, customizable settings, and accurate location tracking for your kids’ devices. I tested the location tracking with a friend’s iPhone and confirmed the accuracy myself.

I also like McAfee’s VPN, which is fast, secure, and has thousands of servers worldwide with unlimited data protection. While it’s not as powerful as standalone VPNs like ExpressVPN, it’s a good option if you’re looking for a convenient way to boost your anti-spyware protection even more.

McAfee Total Protection offers several plans to choose from. Its Plus plan ($79.99 / year) covers just 5 devices, and isn’t the best deal when compared to similar plans from the likes of Norton. The Premium plan ($39.99 / year) is a better deal, covering unlimited devices (select countries only) and including monitoring of 40+ data broker sites for your PII. The Advanced plan includes everything offered on Premium, plus identity theft monitoring and protection, while the Ultimate plan adds ID theft and ransomware coverage as well as extensive credit score monitoring and Credit Lock. All McAfee plans are backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Bottom Line:

McAfee offers really good anti-spyware protection, a ton of excellent internet security tools, and great value. However, it’s a shame the malware scanner impacts device performance so much, but it makes up for this with the sheer number of tools available.


Read the full McAfee review here >

5. Intego — Excellent Spyware Protection for Mac

5. Intego — Excellent Spyware Protection for Mac

Intego is the best antivirus suite for Mac computers. Unlike most antiviruses — even Norton and Bitdefender — which primarily focus on Windows devices, with far fewer features available on their macOS versions, Intego is designed exclusively for Macs. Its features are all a significant improvement on Apple’s built-in versions and other Mac-focused antiviruses, such as MacKeeper.

Intego’s security features include:

  • Malware scanner.
  • Real-time protection.
  • Firewall.
  • Parental controls.
  • System optimizer.
  • Data backup tool.

Intego’s anti-spyware detection is great. In my tests, Intego successfully analyzed and removed every spyware sample I’d installed on my Mac, including ThiefQuest and SearchAwesome — two notorious Mac-focused spyware threats. Intego also successfully detected all my other malware samples, including trojans, ransomware, adware, and cryptojackers.

The NetBarrier firewall is another excellent layer of protection. It builds on your Mac’s native firewall and automatically detects what kind of internet network you’ve joined — for example, your home or work network, or a public Wi-Fi network. It then adjusts its settings to provide the most appropriate protection for that network type.

Intego offers a range of plans, starting at $1.67 / month. The Mac Internet Security X9 plan offers real-time antivirus protection, anti-phishing protection, anti-spyware tools, and a firewall. The Mac Premium Bundle X9 ($34.99 / year) adds Intego’s excellent parental controls, system optimizer, and file backup. A range of other packages are also available, which include different combinations of Intego’s various features, and there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee on all Intego plans.

Bottom Line:

Intego is my favorite Mac anti-spyware and anti-malware protection in 2023. It has comprehensive spyware protection and some excellent extra features, like a great firewall, parental controls, clean-up features, and more. Intego offers a 30-day risk-free money-back guarantee on all its plans.


Read the full Intego review here >

6. Avira — Best Free Spyware Protection

6. Avira — Best Free Spyware Protection

Avira Free Security is one of the better free antiviruses on the market — it provides better spyware protection than some paid antivirus providers, and it includes some pretty good additional features too.

Avira’s antivirus also comes with a potentially unwanted application (PUA) Shield — this feature is specifically designed to detect and remove spyware apps that come bundled with legitimate software. A colleague recently downloaded several adware and spyware programs, so I tried to download the same files from the original source, but Avira flagged all of the spyware ‘.exe’ files that came bundled with my download.

The Free Security package also offers a couple of extras, including excellent internet privacy browser extensions, a secure password manager, and a free VPN (limited to 500 MB/month) — this is a very limited amount of data, but few antiviruses offer free VPNs, and other top antiviruses like Norton don’t offer any free plans at all.

Avira also has a range of paid plans, the best of which is Avira Prime ($59.99 / year). It comes with unlimited data on the VPN, advanced system tune-up tools, dark web monitoring, excellent mobile apps, and more. All Avira’s plans are covered with a 60-day money-back guarantee.

Bottom Line:

Avira offers great free spyware protection, and it also comes with a couple of decent internet privacy protections — including a built-in PUA Shield that detects spyware and adware that’s bundled with other legitimate software, and a free (but limited) VPN. Avira’s premium plan, Avira Prime, is also a good value if you’re looking for multi-device coverage, advanced system tune-up tools, and an unlimited data VPN. Avira offers a 60-day money-back guarantee on all its annual-subscription plans.


Read the full Avira review here >

7. Malwarebytes — Minimalistic Antivirus With Good Spyware Protection

7. Malwarebytes — Minimalistic Antivirus With Good Spyware Protection

Malwarebytes is a simple, minimalistic antivirus program that is able to detect all types of spyware. In my tests, Malwarebytes detected and removed every spyware sample I installed, including the WebDiscover Browser, a fake spyware browser that secretly collects your data and displays annoying pop-ups. However, Malwarebytes’s scanner only detected around 95% of malware types I tested overall — which isn’t bad, but it’s nowhere near as good as top competitors like Norton or Bitdefender.

Malwarebytes also provides:

  • Real-time protection.
  • Web protection.
  • VPN (unlimited data).
  • Browser Guard (a browser extension that blocks ads and malicious sites).

The VPN is only available on the most expensive plan — Premium + Privacy VPN — and while it’s not bad, it doesn’t work with streaming sites or support torrenting, so if you specifically want a VPN, you’re better off going with the likes of Norton, which comes bundled with an excellent VPN, or opting for a standalone VPN.

The lack of useful (and, in some cases, essential) features really lets Malwarebytes down. For example, it doesn’t have a firewall, a password manager, parental controls, or system clean-up tools. Most of these come as standard on the best antivirus packages. So, while Malwarebytes offers a good, basic antivirus solution, there are many better alternatives on this list.

Malwarebytes offers 2 plans. Malwarebytes Premium (from $44.99 / year) includes the anti-malware scanner with real-time protection, web protections, and Browser Guard, while Malwarebytes Premium + Privacy VPN ($99.99 / year) adds the unlimited-data VPN. There is also a free plan available, but it only scans your device for existing infections — there’s no ongoing or real-time protection. Malwarebytes offers a 60-day money-back guarantee on all its paid plans.

Bottom Line:

Malwarebytes offers excellent spyware detection and removal, but it lacks a lot of the cybersecurity protections I want to see in a top-quality antivirus. It only has a virus scanner, phishing protection, Browser Guard, and an optional VPN (which isn’t as good as that of its competitors). It may be too basic for some users, but if you’re just looking for a lightweight, affordable antivirus with excellent anti-spyware capabilities, Malwarebytes isn’t a bad choice. It also offers a 60-day money-back guarantee on its paid plans.


Read the full Malwarebytes review here >

8. MacKeeper — Simple, Fast Spyware Removal (Mac Only)

8. MacKeeper — Simple, Fast Spyware Removal (Mac Only)

MacKeeper is one of the few antivirus suites designed exclusively for macOS — and it comes with good malware protection that is able to quickly remove spyware and other threats. When I tested MacKeeper, the malware scanner took just 50 minutes to scan every file on my Mac. It removed most spyware samples I’d installed, including SearchBaron, a browser hijacker and spyware that collects your data and sells it to third parties.

However, Mackeeper is missing anti-phishing protection and a firewall, which I consider pretty essential security features these days — Norton has both of these features, and Intego, my favorite Mac-focused antivirus, comes with an excellent firewall.

MacKeeper does include:

  • VPN (unlimited data).
  • System cleanup tools.
  • Ad blocker.
  • Adware removal.
  • Data breach monitoring.

MacKeeper’s Adware Cleaner tool is great for removing Mac-specific adware hidden on your device. It’s easy to use, only took 5 minutes to scan my test laptop, and identified a number of adware threats hidden on it.

The VPN is also an excellent addition. It works great with Macs and offers excellent security — including industry standards like military-grade encryption, DNS leak protection, and much more. It also has unlimited data on its paid plan. It’s really rare to get an antivirus-VPN bundle with no limits, without paying a premium. Only TotalAV and McAfee offer similar value in their VPN.

MacKeeper has just one premium plan, starting at $10.95 / month. The price changes depending on the number of devices you want to cover (1 or 3), and whether you pay monthly or annually. MacKeeper offers a 30-day money-back guarantee on its annual plans.

Bottom Line:

MacKeeper is a decent antivirus suite for Mac with good spyware protection. It also includes a good VPN, solid identity theft protection, and system tune-up tools. However, it’s missing some other essential features, like anti-phishing protection, that come as standard with competitors like Norton. MacKeeper only offers one premium plan, and there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee.


Read the full MacKeeper review here >

9. Kaspersky — Good Anti-Spyware With Excellent Parental Controls

9. Kaspersky — Good Anti-Spyware With Excellent Parental Controls

Kaspersky’s lightweight scanner detected 100% of malware samples in my tests — including numerous forms of spyware. The scanner’s also fast, taking just 45 minutes to conduct a full scan of my computer. That puts Kaspersky up with the best antiviruses on the market, such as Norton and Bitdefender.

Kaspersky also offers:

  • Real-time protection.
  • Web and anti-phishing protection.
  • Secure web browser.
  • Rescue Disk.
  • VPN.
  • Parental controls.
  • Password manager.

Rescue Disk is a great tool if your computer is already compromised with spyware or another form of malware. You download a separate app onto a USB or CD/DVD, which you connect or insert into the computer. The next time you turn on your computer, Rescue Disk will launch at startup and clean out any malware. Not many antiviruses offer something like Rescue Disk — Panda has a similar tool, but Kaspersky is a much better antivirus overall.

Kaspersky’s parental controls are among the best on the market. While they require installing a separate app — Safe Kids — they’re very easy to set up and use. The parental controls offer all the standard tools you’d expect, such as web and app filtering, monitoring and reports, location tracking on mobile devices, and much more.

Kaspersky has 3 plans, starting at $41.99 / year. The best value plan for most users is Kaspersky Plus, which costs $56.99 / year and provides all the security basics, plus an unlimited-data VPN, system cleanup tools, a password manager, a data leak checker, and more, for up to 10 devices. The most advanced plan, Kaspersky Premium, costs $81.99 / year and adds an identity protection wallet, remote access detection, and parental controls — but note that the parental controls are only included for the first year, after which you’ll need to pay for them separately. Overall, you can get better deals from top competitors like Norton and TotalAV. All of Kaspersky’s plans are covered by a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Bottom Line:

Kaspersky offers excellent anti-spyware tools with plenty of easy-to-use features. It’s got one of the best parental control apps on the market, making it a great option for families. And the Rescue Disk tool is handy if your computer is already infected with malware. Kaspersky offers a 30-day money-back guarantee on all its plans.


Read the full Kaspersky review here >

10. Adaware — Decent Anti-Spyware Protection for PCs

10. Adaware — Decent Anti-Spyware Protection for PCs

Adaware offers a decent antivirus package that will protect your PC against spyware, ransomware, and many other threats. Adaware’s scanner performed well in my spyware tests, detecting most of the test spyware files that I placed on my PC. But Adaware underperformed in my general malware tests, failing to catch a lot of advanced ransomware and cryptojacker files that the other brands on this list, such as Norton and Bitdefender, successfully detected.

Adaware also provides:

  • Real-time protection.
  • Web protection.
  • Network protection.
  • System optimization tools.
  • VPN.

However, none of these are as good as the offerings from premium antivirus suites like Norton and Avira. As much as I liked the network protections, you can get much better versions from the top antiviruses on this list that offer more robust protection and significantly more features and tools.

Adaware offers free and premium versions of most of its products. Adaware 14 includes real-time malware protection, on-demand scanning, and webcam and microphone blocking, while Adaware 14 Premium adds things like the firewall, a VPN, and email monitoring for $49.99 / year. The premium versions of the antivirus, privacy protection, and system optimization tools also come bundled in Adaware Total for $49.99 / year.

Bottom Line:

Adaware is a decent anti-spyware and antivirus package for PCs with a good range of additional security tools. It has a firewall, web and network protections, and a VPN, but they’re not as good as similar tools from brands like Norton or Bitdefender. Adaware offers refunds for 30 days after purchase, but if you’re curious to try it, you can also download Adaware Antivirus Free before you decide if you want to upgrade to one of Adaware’s paid plans.


Read the full Adaware review here >

Bonus. SUPERAntiSpyware — Best for Additional Spyware Protection

Bonus. SUPERAntiSpyware — Best for Additional Spyware Protection

SUPERAntiSpyware is an excellent anti-spyware program for Windows PCs with some additional anti-malware tools. Even though it’s advertised as an anti-spyware tool, SUPERAntiSpyware also offers decent protections against other types of malware, including adware, trojans, rootkits, and ransomware.

SUPERAntiSpyware can’t compete with Norton or Bitdefender in terms of virus detection, but it was able to detect most of the test spyware on my browser and desktop. SUPERAntiSpyware also doesn’t have any anti-phishing protections or other helpful additional features like a VPN, parental controls, or mobile protections, but it does come with:

  • AI-powered detection engine.
  • Real-time threat blocking.
  • Automatic updates.
  • Scheduled scanning.
  • Email notifications.

I like how SUPERAntiSpyware offers both a free and a paid version. The free version only performs on-demand scanning. The paid version, SUPERAntiSpyware Pro X Edition, costs $39.95 / year and continuously monitors your device for spyware infections with its AI-powered engine. It also includes multiple scan options, real-time threat blocking, automatic updates, and email notifications. The Pro X Edition plan is available on a free 14-day trial, and it also comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Bottom Line:

SUPERAntiSpyware is an excellent anti-spyware tool that also offers good protection against adware and ransomware. You can’t expect it to do everything your antivirus software can do — but if you’re looking for an anti-spyware program to complement your existing antivirus software, SUPERAntiSpyware is a pretty good option.


Bonus. SpywareBlaster — Best for Additional Browsing Protection

Bonus. SpywareBlaster — Best for Additional Browsing ProtectionSpywareBlaster is a good spyware prevention tool for Windows browsers that specializes in blocking spyware installation by restricting ActiveX-based malware. ActiveX is a set of technologies that provide interactive website content, mainly on Windows devices. ActiveX controls can be useful — they allow you to play media and fill in forms on websites. But hackers can also use them to gain access to your system and then install keylogging software, steal your private files, and access your webcam.

SpywareBlaster offers both free and paid versions. SpywareBlaster Free simply protects against spyware and other PUPs (potentially unwanted programs) being installed on your browsers. The paid version, SpywareBlaster AutoUpdate, which starts at $14.95 / year, additionally provides automatic database updates, easy multi-user coverage, and technical support.

That said, SpywareBlaster doesn’t scan your computer like an antivirus software — it only prevents spyware installation. It’s an affordable option for users looking to tighten up their browser security, but it should only be used together with a good antivirus program like Norton or Bitdefender.

Bottom Line:

SpywareBlaster blocks spyware aiming to hijack your computer via ActiveX website content. However, it’s not a replacement for antivirus software — or even for other dedicated anti-spyware applications. You’ll need additional antivirus software like Norton to protect you from other types of malware.


Bonus. Spybot – Search and Destroy — Best for Advanced Users

Bonus. Spybot – Search and Destroy — Best for Advanced UsersSpybot – Search and Destroy uses active scanning to stop spyware and other types of malware from making changes on your computer, and it can also perform full spyware scans of your system. During my tests, Spybot’s scanning engine caught and removed all of the test spyware, adware, and PUPs on my PC. But Spybot doesn’t provide a lot of the additional features that the best antivirus programs like Norton do.

However, Spybot does contain some advanced features to protect your device from spyware and adware, including real-time spyware scanning, antivirus scanning, cookie and plugin blocker, and rootkit scanning.

Spybot offers both free and paid plans. Spybot – Search and Destroy Free comes with anti-spyware tools, the rootkit scan, and the cookies and plugins blocker. Upgrading to one of the paid plans like Spybot – Search and Destroy Professional adds antivirus protection and real-time scanning (for $29.30 / year).

Bottom Line:

Spybot – Search and Destroy is a surprisingly good anti-spyware and anti-malware app. However, it doesn’t have features like phishing protection, a VPN, or device optimization tools, like Norton and Avira offer. Spybot offers free and paid plans, as well as bulk deals for enterprise users.


Read the full Spybot review here

Comparison of the Best Anti-Spyware Software in 2023

Product Starting Price Free Version Removes Spyware Infections Anti-Malware Scanning Blocks Phishing Sites Money-Back Guarantee
1.🥇Norton $54.99 / year 60 days
2.🥈Bitdefender $14.99 / year 30 days
3.🥉TotalAV $19.00 / year 30 days
4. McAfee $39.99 / year 30 days
5. Intego for Mac $1.67 / month 30 days
6. Avira $45.99 / year 60 days
7. Malwarebytes $37.49 / year 60 days
8. MacKeeper $10.95 / month 30 days
9. Kaspersky $41.99 / year 30 days
10. Adaware $49.99 / year 30 days
Bonus. SUPERAntiSpyware $39.95 / year 30 days
Bonus. SpywareBlaster $14.95 / year none
Bonus. Spybot — Search and Destroy $18.99 / year none


How to Choose the Best Anti-Spyware Software in 2023

  • Check for comprehensive spyware protection. This includes both detection and removal of spyware software. I’ve tested all anti-spyware software on my list and can confirm they all remove and protect against spyware threats. All of them detected spyware 100% (or almost 100%) of the time.
  • Real-time protection is a must. Real-time protection ensures your device is continuously guarded against emerging threats, as malware like spyware is detected and blocked even before it’s downloaded. I evaluated the real-time protection of every antivirus in this list with various spyware, viruses, adware, ransomware, and other common types of malware. I made sure all could fend off even the most advanced real-time threats. For instance, Norton and Bitdefender successfully thwarted every malware sample that I attempted to download.
  • Consider additional features. The best antiviruses offer a lot of extra security and privacy features, like built-in VPNs, identity theft protection, password managers, and parental controls. A lot of them also come with tools that boost your device performance, such as system clean-up and optimization tools.
  • Go for something that’s easy to use. Most anti-spyware and antivirus products are easy to use, but some are more advanced than others. If you’ve never used an antivirus before, I suggest opting for one with a money-back guarantee so that you can ensure you’re happy with it before committing. Norton, Avira, and Malwarebytes all provide a 60-day money-back guarantee — which is excellent!
  • Consider the quality of customer support. In the event of any difficulties or questions, having reliable customer support can be a lifesaver. Many anti-spyware providers offer 24/7 support through various channels such as phone, email, live chat, and extensive online resources. A company that provides efficient and effective customer support shows that it cares about its users, which is a good indicator of overall service quality. For example, companies like Norton and Bitdefender have a strong reputation for comprehensive customer support services.


What Is Spyware & How Does It Affect Your Device?

Spyware is a form of malware that’s main function is to “spy” on the user. It works sneakily, often without the user’s knowledge, collecting information and monitoring activities conducted on their device. It can be anything from mildly intrusive to severely malicious.

The less dangerous forms of spyware are mostly used for advertising — collecting user data to offer targeted ads. While this may appear benign, it still constitutes a breach of privacy and should be removed using an antivirus. The more malevolent forms of spyware are designed to steal sensitive information such as passwords and financial credentials. Some even let cybercriminals take control of a victim’s device, letting them inject additional malware into it.

Spyware affects devices in multiple ways. Firstly, it degrades system performance by consuming significant system resources. Secondly, it can result in increased data usage on a victim’s device. Thirdly, it exposes users to potential fraud, identity theft, and loss of personal and financial assets.

There are different types of spyware, which can include:

  • Keyloggers: Capture every keystroke a user makes, allowing attackers to obtain passwords, chat logs, and other typed information.
  • Screenloggers: Capture screenshots of the user’s activity. This can be particularly dangerous when users view sensitive documents or enter credentials.
  • Adware: While some may argue that not all adware is spyware, malicious adware can track browsing habits and display intrusive ads based on user activity.
  • Browser hijackers: Alter the user’s browser settings, redirecting them to unwanted websites or replacing their default search engine. This can lead the user to phishing sites or other malicious web pages.
  • Trojan horses: While not spyware in the traditional sense, trojans are viruses that can introduce spyware onto a system once installed. They can carry payloads that allow for remote control, data theft, or further malware installations.
  • Info stealers: These harvest specific types of data from the infected system, such as financial information or login credentials.
  • Tracking cookies: These are not always malicious, but they do monitor users’ browsing habits and can create a profile based on their activities.

In short, spyware represents a multi-faceted cybersecurity threat. Being vigilant and proactive, and using security solutions like Norton and Bitdefender while also practicing safe browsing habits is essential in defending against it.


Top Brands That Didn’t Make the Cut

  • Comodo. Comodo is a free antivirus that comes with a pretty decent firewall and virtual desktop mode, but it only detected 93% of the malware samples in my tests and allowed me to visit websites that had spyware samples on them.
  • Avast. Avast is an excellent antivirus with 100% malware detection rates, but it’s let down by a pretty average VPN, and it lacks a password manager and identity theft protections.
  • AVG. AVG provides top-quality protection against spyware, but it forces you to download multiple apps to access every feature, and its ransomware simulation results were disappointing.
  • Panda Dome. Panda is a decent antivirus with an excellent malware scanner and other great features. However, its web protection tools detected less than 50% of the phishing sites in my tests. This is way too low for me to recommend it.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is anti-spyware software?

Anti-spyware software is designed to detect, remove, and protect against spyware threats. Advanced anti-spyware software, such as Norton 360, provides real-time protection to prevent spyware from infecting your device by constantly scanning files and programs before they’re downloaded. It also protects against other types of known malware, including rootkits, ransomware, trojans, and cryptojackers.

Are anti-spyware and antivirus software the same thing?

Anti-spyware and antivirus software are not the same thing, but the best antivirus providers offer anti-spyware and anti-malware protection as standard. However, most standalone anti-spyware tools only offer protection against spyware and adware — nothing else. This is why I always recommend buying a complete antivirus package that includes spyware protections.

In my tests, premium antiviruses like Norton offered the highest detection rates for both spyware and other types of malware. They cost more than standalone anti-spyware tools, but they also offer internet security tools like anti-phishing protection, VPNs, password managers, dark web monitoring, and mobile device protection. So, in the end, you’ll save money because you won’t need to buy all those tools separately.

Is Kaspersky safe to use as anti-spyware?

Absolutely! While the German and US governments have warned against using Kaspersky because of potential ties to the Russian government, there is no evidence to support this, so I’m happy to recommend it as a safe and reliable option for anti-spyware protection. It identified 100% of malware samples in my tests, which included several forms of spyware, and it also offers real-time protection, comprehensive anti-phishing protection, and a dedicated secure web browser for enhanced online safety.

However, while Kaspersky is safe to use as an anti-spyware solution, I do think Norton is slightly better. I prefer its wide range of dark web monitoring tools, which can alert you to information leaks caused by spyware.

Do I need anti-spyware software for smart home devices?

You don’t need traditional anti-spyware software for smart home devices, which can include voice assistants, smart lighting, and more. However, one of the primary risks with these devices is their potential exploitation as entry points into your home network. Therefore, there are some precautions you should take if you have smart home devices in your house.

For example, you should keep the smart home device’s firmware up-to-date, since manufacturers often patch security gaps. You should also use a good password manager to create and store a strong password if the device allows for password protection. Furthermore, a powerful antivirus equipped with a good firewall can monitor and block suspicious inbound and outbound traffic, providing an added layer of protection for your smart devices.

In essence, while smart home devices may not necessitate the need for traditional anti-spyware software, a holistic approach to security — emphasizing strong passwords and vigilant network monitoring — is definitely needed if you have smart home devices in your household.

What’s the best anti-spyware software for webcams?

Norton and Bitdefender are both excellent anti-spyware programs with dedicated webcam protection features. If you have either one of these installed, you’ll receive immediate alerts when an application or website attempts to access your webcam. You’re then given the option to allow or disallow the access, which is excellent for preventing unsolicited access. Beyond this, both antiviruses provide comprehensive security against a multitude of cyber threats, enhancing the overall protection of your device.

How does anti-spyware software work?

Anti-spyware software scans any files on your device for spyware, and then removes any it finds. The best anti-spyware scanners, like those offered by Norton and Bitdefender, also detect every other type of malware, using a combination of heuristics, machine learning, and massive cloud databases.

Good anti-spyware tools can also perform real-time threat detection, analyzing files before they’re downloaded onto your device and blocking their download to prevent a spyware infection from occurring.

Additionally, full-suite antivirus/anti-spyware software can:

  • Block access to your camera or microphone.
  • Protect your web browser and block phishing tools.
  • Scan the dark web for data leaks and hacks containing your data.
  • Hide your files.
  • Hide your IP address (using a VPN).
  • Encrypt your keystrokes.

How do I install anti-spyware software?

Installing anti-spyware software is pretty easy. Just follow these steps:

  • Pick an anti-spyware (or complete antivirus) program. My #1 anti-spyware choice is Norton 360 — it’s a feature-rich and easy-to-use antivirus that provides total spyware protection.
  • Download the antivirus or anti-spyware app. Whichever software you decide on, follow one of our links to get the best deals available. Some offer free plans or free trials, and most of them offer money-back guarantees.
  • Click Install & run the installer. All the best anti-spyware apps come with an installer that will guide you through the process. Simply accept the end user license agreement (EULA), accept the program destination, and you will have a high-quality anti-spyware solution running in no time.

Best Anti-Spyware Tools in 2023 — Final Score:

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We rank vendors based on rigorous testing and research but also take into account your feedback and our commercial agreements with providers. This page contains affiliate links.
About the Author
Conor Walsh
Updated on: September 12, 2023

About the Author

Conor is a tech writer focused on data privacy and cybersecurity. When not covering the latest trends in tech and privacy, you'll find him sat on the couch with a good book, seeking out random restaurants with interesting cuisines, or crate digging for rare vinyls.