How We Test Cybersecurity Products

Our team is made up of researchers and reviewers who take cybersecurity seriously. Everything we do is based on our mission to provide readers with valuable, accurate information so they can make an informed decision about staying safe and secure on the internet.

How We Test Cybersecurity Products

While we’re the experts, we make sure every review we post is accessible, easy to understand, and based on real user experience. Our reviewers test hundreds of antiviruses, password managers, VPNs, and parental controls in everyday situations to gather genuinely useful information for our readers.

Our tests are rigorous. We’ll test a VPN’s connection speeds from multiple locations worldwide, run thousands of malware files through an antivirus, and go undercover as regular users while we test out a provider’s customer service. Every review that you read on our site comes from tests by real people, carried out in real-life scenarios, with a thorough testing methodology behind it.

We never get paid to write positive or negative reviews — each review is based on genuine experience and backed by data. For full transparency, we do have affiliate links on our website. This means that we may make a small commission if you click on a link and purchase a product — but this doesn’t impact your cost in any way — and this allows us to keep the site running. We may also review and rank providers with whom we share ownership:  ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, ZenMate, Private Internet Access, and Intego.  That said, we’ll only ever recommend products that we believe in and use ourselves.

Our dedicated research team is constantly testing and retesting top antiviruses, password managers, VPNs, and parental controls for a wide range of metrics — from security and performance to ease of use and customer support — to come up with lists of the best internet security products out there. In addition to the hands-on experience of our team, this list also takes into account satisfaction levels reported by users after their purchases, as well as our commercial agreements with service providers. Writers working on listicle pages start from these rankings, but they retain the autonomy — and indeed, the responsibility — to make appropriate changes. After conducting in-depth research into specific use cases, they offer unique recommendations tailored to the diverse needs of our users.

Our Testing Criteria

While the methodology changes slightly depending on the product, the main criteria we consider are:

Security. We’ll only recommend products that meet industry-standard benchmarks, live up to the provider’s claims, and prove to be both reliable and effective against threats in dozens of stress tests.
Speed and efficiency. The best products will run smoothly without slowing your whole system down. We test every product for speed and efficiency on all of its intended operating systems.
Extra features. Aside from basic functionality, the best products will have additional features that set them above the competition. For example, a great antivirus will come bundled with a VPN, password manager, and parental controls.
Ease of use. We know that not every user is a technology expert, and you shouldn’t have to be. Cybersecurity products should be well-designed, with a great UI that’s easy to navigate.
Value. We consider this to be the quality-to-price ratio. A great quality product should offer coverage for multiple devices and plenty of additional features for an affordable price. We’ll always assess a product’s value in line with its competitors — if a similar or superior product is available for a better price, we’ll tell you.
Customer support. You should be able to speak to a knowledgeable support team in case you need help at any stage. We’ll make sure that a product offers good customer support before, during and after purchase, and we’ll also test how easy it is to get a refund if you want to avail of a product’s money-back guarantee.

Using a rigorous testing methodology, our reviewers will spend weeks, even months, with a product to fully understand its strengths and weaknesses. The result is an expert review, informed by extensive data, and based on real user experience.

Comparison Matters

Every review will consider how a certain product compares to other options on the market, and our rating system ranks products in relation to each other.

We also understand that every product has strengths and weaknesses, and we take care to highlight the unique selling points of each product we review. There’s never a one-size-fits-all solution, so we do our best to recommend the right solutions for every need we encounter.

We also offer a helpful comparison tool to help you decide which antivirus is best for your needs.

What Our Ratings Mean

Every product we review gets a final rating out of 10. Anything above 8/10 is a great option for most users. 7/10 is pretty good, but there may be better options out there for you.

A rating lower than 7/10 means that we probably encountered a number of issues during our tests and that the product doesn’t meet the standard of the competition.

Our Commitment to Accuracy

After testing, our reviewers share their results with a team of expert editors who fact-check every detail. Each review goes through at least three levels of checks to ensure that every word is honest and fair.

We also revisit reviews every two months or less, ensuring that each fact is in line with the latest product updates and market offerings.

Testing Methodology

Below, you will find our exact testing methodology for the following: