much protection do you need?
Buying an Internet security software suite is usually
cheaper than buying separate stand-alone programs. It also reduces the
likelihood that security programs will refuse to work together. However, you
can assemble your own security software system by choosing the top-rated
software in each category; you can get some good free security programs as well.
Keep in mind that you may not want or use all the
components of an Internet security software suite. A firewall is essential to
protect your computer from intrusion threats (programs looking to steal data
from your computer or hijack your identity), but you may already have a
firewall in your wireless router, and experts say that a hardware firewall of
that type is generally more effective than a software firewall. You might not
need a spam filter if your Internet service provider or email program is
already filtering spam. Therefore, choosing between buying an Internet security
suite or stand-alone antivirus software is partly a matter of weighing the
strengths and weaknesses of each package against your own security priorities.
"Shop around" is always good advice, but especially with
Internet security suites. Prices swing wildly all over the map, and you should keep
an eagle eye out for sales or special promotions. For example, we found Norton
Security selling for $80 at Symantec's site (Symantec is the maker of Norton),
but a promotion had reduced the price of the upgraded version, Norton Security
with Backup, so that it was cheaper, just $60. At Amazon.com, Norton Security
with Backup was offered at $60 as well, but the base Norton Security was being
offered at less than $55. Also watch for rebates, which are sometimes offered
only for products purchased from a specific store or website, and those rotate
are some other things to consider when selecting an Internet security suite:
install and setup. The security software
should be simple to install, and the interface should be easy to understand,
whether or not it's been redesigned with tiles and icons for Windows 8.
number of licenses. Some Internet
security software suites offer licenses to install its software on three, five
or 10 PCs, or just one. Be sure you are comparing apples to apples (and
licenses to licenses) when looking for the best price.
with multiple operating systems. Some of the
Internet security software suites that we review run on both Windows and Mac
operating systems, as well as iOS and Android tablets
- Parental controls. Most Internet security software comes with some form of parental
control. However, most is not all, and some programs either lack that feature
or include it as an option, sometimes at extra cost. In terms of features,
basic parental controls can monitor and control your child's Internet
usage; more sophisticated controls cover texts, calls, Facebook and more.
- Do you even need Internet
security software? If you already have an effective firewall and
security features in your operating system and browser, you may just need
antivirus software. Windows includes Windows Defender antivirus, but that
security software, while better than having none at all, finishes at the bottom
of the pack in many independent tests. See our report on antivirus software for our recommendations dedicated software -- including free products -- that
- Surf smart. Though you have security software
installed, you must still monitor your Internet behavior. Research before
clicking on an ad or download, and don't open emails or attachments that look
suspicious. Stay up to date about the latest Internet dangers by browsing
computer news sites or subscribing to email alerts.
- Update Internet security software regularly. Be sure your security
suite is set to check for updates automatically, preferably at least once a
day. Most security software applications do this, but some free programs
require manual updates.