Short on time? Here is the best anti-spyware software of 2020:
It’s not easy to find trustworthy and reliable anti-spyware software. There are a lot of bad products out there, and some can actually be pretty dangerous. A colleague of mine was recently hacked by a fake anti-spyware program — it was stealing his most private data for weeks before he realized his computer was infected!
I put the latest anti-spyware tools to the test, filling my test computer with spyware and trying out 47 different programs. Not only did I test antivirus software with built-in spyware protections, but I also tested standalone anti-spyware tools. It took a lot of work, but I finally found 10 powerful programs that were able to detect and destroy even the most deceptive spyware.
I split this list into two parts, the first part has 7 antivirus and anti-malware programs with powerful spyware protections and the second parts has 3 standalone anti-spyware tools.
Here’s what I found out.
The best antiviruses with anti-spyware capabilities:
- Norton — #1 anti-spyware pick for 2020. Powerful spyware protection with many top-notch features to help guarantee device security.
- McAfee — One of the best antivirus brands for decades. Great spyware protection and lots of other anti-malware features.
- TotalAV — Powerful antivirus with dedicated anti-spyware functionality.
- And 4 more great antiviruses with high-quality spyware protection.
Dedicated anti-spyware picks:
- SUPERAntiSpyware — Excellent protection against adware, trojans, rootkits, and other kinds of spyware. Good compliment to dedicated antivirus program.
- SpywareBlaster — Excels at blocking ActiveX malware. Best for those who enjoy browsing online.
- Spybot — Prevents spyware by keeping track of usage tracks. One for advanced users.
- FAQ about spyware and anti-spyware software.
The 10 Best Anti-Spyware Software for 2020 — Reviewed & Compared
I’ve divided this list into two sections:
- Antivirus software that includes anti-spyware capabilities. Get one of these if you don’t have any antivirus/anti-malware software currently installed.
- Dedicated anti-spyware software. Get one of these if you already have great antivirus software, but you need additional software to protect against spyware.
Best Antivirus Software That Protects Against Spyware
1. Norton 360 Standard — Best for All-Around Protection
Norton is a world leader in fighting all types of malware — including spyware. Because Norton’s antivirus engine uses artificial intelligence (AI), it’s continually learning about new and emerging threats. The malware scanner detected 100% of the spyware on my test computer and even found many hidden pieces of spyware that other scanners missed — making it the most powerful anti-spyware tool on this list.
Along with Norton’s fantastic anti-spyware capabilities, it also includes some of the best features of any antivirus software on the market.
Norton 360 comes with:
- Full malware scanning and removal.
- Online threat detection.
- Smart Firewall.
- Dark Web Monitoring.
- Password manager.
- Secure VPN (virtual private network).
While still amazing on Mac, smartphones, and tablets, Norton 360 Standard provides some extra anti-spyware features specifically for Windows users. Windows users should take extra security precautions because spyware often targets Windows due to its well-known security vulnerabilities.
For example, Norton’s “SafeCam” feature protects your PC’s webcam, preventing hackers from hijacking your webcam in order to spy on you. Norton also features “PC Cloud Backup” — 10 GB of secure storage where you can keep safe copies of your private files in case you fall victim to a ransomware attack, which as I noted in my Norton 360 review, is an incredibly generous offering.
As a bonus, if you’re looking to protect more than one device, Norton 360 Deluxe is the same price as 360 Standard for the first year and comes with parental controls on up to 5 devices.
Norton’s trusted antivirus technology will definitely keep your devices free from spyware, and its additional security features will prevent your Windows PC from being hijacked by hackers. Norton is a great choice for everyone, regardless of which operating system or device you want to protect. But it’s particularly great for Windows users who want a complete internet security package.
2. McAfee Total Protection — Best for Extra Anti-Spyware Features
McAfee’s security package offers cross-platform detection and removal of spyware, viruses, and all other types of malware. It also has a strong set of additional features to keep you safe from spyware, including:
- Safe Web Browsing.
- Performance Optimization.
- Unlimited VPN.
McAfee got great malware detection scores in our in-depth review, and it’s high up on my list of the best antiviruses of 2020. There’s Wi-Fi protection, a password manager, encrypted storage, ransomware protection, and a whole lot more.
McAfee’s antivirus also offers a great range of identity theft protection tools (only available to U.S.-based customers). These include:
- Dark Web Monitoring.
- Social Security Number monitoring.
- 24/7 identity theft support.
McAfee Total Protection Multi-Device is a great antivirus package with particularly strong protection against identity theft — one of the worst effects of spyware. And while they offer a lot of protections against spyware threats, their extensive Identity Theft Protection is only available for US users. Even still, McAfee is an excellent choice for anyone who wants a comprehensive internet security package.
3. TotalAV — Best New Antivirus Software
In addition to lots of extra features, TotalAV provides really good anti-spyware protection. As I noted in my recent TotalAV review, this company has really stepped up their game and have turned a mediocre product into a highly capable, dedicated antivirus program.
Unfortunately, the free version is not that useful, but the paid versions offer a lot of great features.
The cheapest TotalAV plan gives you:
- Spyware detection and removal.
- Adware cleaner.
- Phishing protection.
- Remote access firewall.
- Device optimization tools.
But you need to be aware of the price. It’s normal for companies to offer a cheap introductory price, but TotalAV has been accused of being sneaky about this, so make sure you understand their renewal policy.
TotalAV is still a new antivirus company, and they haven’t had the best history with users. A lot of people complain that their renewal policy is sneaky. But their introductory price is definitely unbeatable. Overall, they’re clearly getting better and working out some of these problems, and they’re now offering some of the best all-around antivirus protection in the industry.
4. Bitdefender Total Security — Best for Secure Banking
Bitdefender is a world leader in detecting and removing spyware and all other types of malware. And in the rare event that spyware does sneak through Bitdefender’s defenses, the software includes a powerful set of additional features to make sure it can’t spy on you.
Bitdefender is particularly great at protecting users’ financial information. If you bank online, you’re vulnerable to a devastating type of spyware known as a “Banking Trojan”. Bitdefender provides an ultra-secure browsing environment called “Safepay” to keep your bank details safe from cybercriminals.
Some of Bitdefender Total Security’s other security features include:
- Microphone Monitor. Prevents spyware applications from eavesdropping on your conversations.
- Password Manager. Keeps your passwords and payment information locked up in a secure vault.
- Multi-Layer Ransomware Protection. Advanced defense against ransomware, an increasingly common and dangerous type of malware.
Bitdefender Total Security provides an incredible level of malware protection alongside a comprehensive set of security features. If you do a lot of online banking and online shopping, this is the best antivirus for protecting you against keyloggers and hackers looking to steal your information because of its Safepay browser. But this feature is only available on Windows.
5. Malwarebytes — Best for Ease-of-Use
Malwarebytes started as a dedicated spyware tool, and it’s still a world-class anti-spyware product. And as we found out in our last Malwarebytes review, it also protects against a much wider range of other threats.
Malwarebytes doesn’t rely on a list of spyware definitions like other antiviruses. It monitors the behavior of your files and applications. If it observes an application acting suspiciously — accessing restricted parts of your system or logging your activity — Malwarebytes takes immediate action to eliminate the threat and protect your personal information.
Malwarebytes is missing a firewall and a VPN, which is kind of annoying as I prefer to have these features included in an anti-spyware program. However, Malwarebytes focuses on having powerful malware detection, and it’s also extremely easy to use — perfect for new antivirus users.
Malwarebytes is the original spyware-fighting software — and it now provides unparalleled protection against viruses and other types of malware, too. Malwarebytes might not throw in a lot of complicated extra security features, but if you want a simple and highly effective antivirus and anti-spyware solution, it’s the perfect choice.
6. Avira Antivirus Pro — Best for Keylogger Detection
Avira Antivirus Pro provides real-time protection against spyware and other malware,
Avira is on my anti-spyware list because of how well it detects keyloggers — spyware that records what you type, which could include your private messages, passwords, or credit card numbers. From my testing, I found that Avira detects keyloggers better than almost all of its competitors, including McAfee and Trend Micro.
Avira Antivirus Pro also includes the following additional features:
- Ad Blocker.
- Safe Browser to prevent you from visiting phishing websites.
- PUA Shield which detects harmful software that might appear legitimate.
Avira’s software is also extremely efficient, making it a great choice even for slower, older computers.
Avira Antivirus Pro offers excellent protection against keyloggers and internet security threats. It’s so lightweight that you’ll barely notice it protecting your system in the background — but you can be sure that it’s working hard to keep your device safe from keyloggers and other types of spyware.
7. Adaware Antivirus Total — Best for Securing Personal Information
Adaware was developed exclusively as a program to block ads and web trackers. Now it protects against much more — including viruses, ransomware, and spyware.
Adaware Antivirus Total’s Digital Lock feature prevents spyware from stealing personal information from your computer by:
- Encrypting your private files with “military-grade” 256-bit AES encryption.
- Securely “shredding” the unencrypted original files by erasing and overwriting them.
- Applying multiple levels of encryption and password protection to sensitive documents.
In addition to the incredible Digital Lock feature, Adaware Antivirus Total offers:
- Email Protection.
- Web Protection.
- Parental Controls.
This is a great level of protection for your private information — some other brands, such as Avira Antivirus Pro, defend your device against spyware infection but don’t provide any tools to help protect the contents of your files and documents. But other big brands like do McAfee and Norton offer this functionality as well.
Adaware keeps your computer free from spyware infections, and its Digital Lock feature lets you encrypt your most important files so you can store and send them safely. It’s a good choice if you keep sensitive or work-related documents on your PC.
Best Dedicated Anti-Spyware Software
8. SUPERAntiSpyware — Best for Additional Spyware Protection
SUPERAntiSpyware is a powerful tool for fighting spyware and related types of malware, including:
- Adware that displays nuisance ads.
- Trojans that look harmless but attack your system once installed.
- Rootkits that gain control over core parts of your PC.
SUPERAntiSpyware is designed to complement your existing antivirus setup. It’s a great choice if you’re happy with your current antivirus software but want to add extra spyware protection.
SUPERAntiSpyware provides both a free and a paid version. The paid version, SUPERAntiSpyware Pro, continuously monitors your device for spyware infections, and it updates automatically. In terms of spyware protection alone, SUPERAntiSpyware can even compete with top antivirus brands like Norton.
SUPERAntiSpyware will complement your existing antivirus software. You can’t expect it to do everything your antivirus software can do — but it will add a strong additional layer of protection against spyware.
9. SpywareBlaster — Best for Browsing Protection
SpywareBlaster specializes in blocking ActiveX malware. ActiveX is a tool that provides interactive website content. ActiveX controls can be useful — enabling you to play media or fill in forms on websites. But they can also be malicious.
Hackers can use ActiveX controls to gain access to your system. Once inside, they could install keylogging software, steal your private files, or access your webcam.
SpywareBlaster offers both free and paid versions. The paid version, SpywareBlaster Autoupdate, is excellent value. It provides the following benefits:
- Automatic updating.
- Protection for every user on your computer.
- Technical support.
SpywareBlaster doesn’t scan your computer like an antivirus software — it only blocks incoming threats. Therefore, you’ll need to invest in separate scanning software, such as Malwarebytes.
SpywareBlaster is a powerful solution to a specific problem — spyware that hijacks your computer via ActiveX website content. You’ll need additional software to protect you from other types of malware. SpywareBlaster is not a replacement for antivirus software — or even for other dedicated anti-spyware applications. SpywareBlaster works in harmony with any other security software installed on your computer.
10. Spybot – Search and Destroy — Best for Advanced Users
Spybot – Search and Destroy is a powerful spyware prevention tool. It uses active scanning to prevent spyware and malware from making changes on your computer, and it can also perform full spyware scans of your system. When I tested the scanning engine, it caught all of the test spyware, adware, and Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUPs) on my PC.
It’s also got a lot of advanced features, so it’s a good tool for experienced users. One unique feature is the ability to manage usage tracks. Usage tracks are the PC’s way of recording processes like:
- Which documents you’ve opened.
- Which applications you’ve launched.
- Which websites you’ve visited.
By cleaning up these usage tracks, Spybot keeps hackers from stealing your data for identity fraud or gaining control of your computer.
If you’re not tech-savvy, this isn’t a good tool, but if you want a dedicated anti-spyware tool with lots of settings, Spybot is a good choice.
Spybot – Search and Destroy offers spyware prevention, detection, and removal for advanced users. If you want to keep your device activity totally private, Spybot offers a level of control that no other software can match.
Anti-Spyware — Frequently Asked Questions
🕵️ What is spyware and what is anti-spyware software?
Spyware is a type of malware (malicious software) that spies on your device, monitoring your activity and collecting your personal information — often using it to access your online accounts or to perform identity theft.
Using spyware, hackers can steal your credit card details, passport number, web browsing history, or any other sensitive info you don’t want falling into the wrong hands.
🧐 Are anti-spyware and antivirus software the same thing?
No, anti-spyware and antivirus software are not the same thing. After all, spyware and viruses are different types of malware.
Dedicated anti-spyware software detects and removes spyware, and sometimes they fight other related types of malware such as adware (unwanted advertising software).
Technically, antivirus software only fights viruses. However, “antivirus software” can also be a broader term for software that fights lots of different types of malware. The best antivirus products, such as Norton and TotalAV, have powerful anti-spyware protection included in their products — but many antivirus products don’t include spyware protection.
🔎 How does anti-spyware software work?
Anti-spyware software can protect your personal information by:
- Detecting and removing spyware already present on your device.
- Preventing you from downloading spyware.
- Encrypting your files to secure your private data.
- Encrypting your keystrokes to confuse “keylogger” spyware.
- Blocking access to your device’s camera or microphone.
- Scanning the dark web for signs that your personal information has been stolen.
💾 How can I install anti-spyware software?
You can install anti-spyware software by purchasing it from a reputable cybersecurity company and downloading it from their website.
Be careful when downloading free anti-spyware software. Some anti-spyware software, known as “rogue anti-spyware software”, is actually spyware in disguise. You can trust all the antivirus and anti-spyware products on this list.