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Group test: 13 internet security suites compared

Which internet security suite is right for you?

Think all internet security suites are the same? Not even close. Our comprehensive tests show you which of today's suites to trust, and which to skip.

We tested 13 suites in all. Norton Internet Security 2010 took the top ranking, owing to its strong overall malware detection.

Kaspersky Internet Security 2010 was a close second. AVG Internet Security 9.0 placed third for its malware detection and speedy system performance.

Closely following the top picks was a competitive middle tier of suites from Avast, BitDefender, McAfee, Panda, PC Tools, Trend Micro and Webroot.

The suites from Eset, F-Secure and ZoneAlarm lagged, due to acceptable, but not great, malware protection.

For antimalware testing, we contracted the services of AV-Test.org, a respected security testing company.

We looked not only at traditional signature-based detection but also at how well the suites cleaned infections, removed rootkits, and detected malware based on behavioural analysis.

But what if the suite slows your system performance to a crawl?

This year we added a battery of tests to measure such drag: changes in boot times, application launch times, and the time to create or open a batch of documents, among other tests, both with and without the security suites running.

All the suites we reviewed had antivirus, antispyware, and antispam components, plus a firewall.

Some, such as Eset Smart Security 4 and PC Tools Internet Security 2010, had little beyond those core functions.

The rest offered extra capabilities, such as parental controls, online backup and internet browser protection.

Here's our list of the suites, in order of rating. Click on any name to see the full review.

  1. Norton Internet Security 2010
  2. Kaspersky Internet Security 2010
  3. AVG Internet Security 9.0
  4. PC Tools Internet Security 2010
  5. BitDefender Internet Security 2010
  6. Avast 5.0 Internet Security
  7. McAfee Internet Security 2010
  8. Panda Internet Security 2010
  9. Webroot Internet Security Essentials
  10. Trend Micro Internet Security Pro 2010
  11. F-Secure Internet Security 2010
  12. ZoneAlarm Internet Security Suite
  13. Eset Smart Security 4

Test performance table (click to expand)

Internet Security Suites table

NEXT PAGE: The performance hit

  1. We look at just how the different suits vary
  2. Which security suite came out top?
  3. The performance hit

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