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19 best security software of 2015 UK: best internet security software - best antivirus, best antispyware for Windows

The best antivirus and security software for Windows PC and laptop you can buy in the UK in 2015

Best security software for PC or laptop in the UK. 2015's best internet security suites for Windows. Security suites tested, reviewed and ranked. (See also: 2015's best antivirus and best free antivirus for PC and laptop.)

Internet security software is no longer just about countering viruses. Although they still exist, viruses are arguably a minor part of the malware now prevalent on the Web. More important now is security of personal data. Security exploits aren’t about show-off hackers massaging their egos, any more, but about monetising their malware. (See all security software reviews)

You don’t have to be a hard-line hacker, either. You can buy all the software you need, and millions of addresses, on the dark web or even on eBay, if you know where to look. You can buy everything from a denial of service attack - with botwebs for hire - to individual exploits. Custom attacks are available, where the code changes after only a dozen uses or so, making it very hard for Internet Security (IS) providers to block every new variant.

Although the primary concern is to block malware so it doesn’t install on your PC in the first place, there isn’t an internet security suite made which is 100 percent effective. Worthwhile IS software should also detect so called ‘zero day’ attacks, where the malware is so new it hasn’t yet been analysed or had ‘signatures’ built into IS protection routines.

The speed with which these analyses are made is an important factor in the level of protection an IS suite can provide. Some companies now claim a turnaround of well under an hour, using information gained from their own customers about similar attacks. The cloud element in security applications is growing more and more important in speeding this process.

Newly installed software can be monitored, looking for suspicious activity and can then be prevented from potentially damaging actions, such as changing registry entries, or installing as a browser add-in.

Most IS suites don’t just handle malware exploits. When looking at suites, you may expect several modules dealing with file backup, protection of passwords, web site checks, online transaction security and other associated tasks.

Backup is a particularly useful combination with malware protection. In a worst-case infection, you can still retain clean copies of important data to reinstate once the attack has been cleared.

Many suites offer PC tune-up facilities and while these often duplicate existing Windows facilities, such as defragmentation and removal of cookies, several have useful extras, which can determine the applications and utilities loaded at startup and check you have the latest versions of software and drivers.

Keeping applications up to date is important, as exploits specific to individual programs can be stopped at source using revised code from their producers. Applications such as Adobe Reader, Flash player and Oracle’s Java are often targets for attacks.

19 best security suites for PC and laptop 2015 UK: best security software

19. Avast Premier 2015

Avast produces an excellent free AV offering, giving nobody an excuse to lack protection on a PC. This commercial product is not quite such good value, lacking some of the features we've come to expect of premium suites. Backup and PC tune-up are missing or require an extra purchase.

18. AhnLab V3 Internet Security 8.0

Scraping an AV-Test Certification may put some people off AhnLab V3 Internet Security 8.0, but standards in malware protection are now very high. We wonder if its scanning should be more thorough too. In its favour it's very easy to setup and use. For general-purpose home protection it's definitely better than having nothing, but there are more secure alternatives available at similar and lower cost.

17. ESET Smart Security 8

ESET Smart Security 8 is an efficient IS suite, though it doesn't have many of the extras which are now often standard issue. It's good at what it does and from our tests has a fairly light touch.

16. Webroot SecureAnywhere Internet Security Complete 2014

Webroot's utilitarian approach may appeal to those who shun ostentatious software, and it's undoubtedly useful to have a product which can protect up to five devices at a time. That those devices can be based on a number of different platforms is also a benefit. The problem with SecureAnywhere Internet Security Complete 2014 is the question mark over its ability to do the business spotting malware.

15. Webroot Internet Security Plus 2015

It’s not possible to compare Webroot’s offering with the others in terms of AV efficacy, as we have no test results, but the company’s claim to scan fast and leave a light impression looks fair.

14. Avira Internet Security Suite 2015

Avira Internet Security Suite 2015 is a good, solid IS suite with useful extras in the System Speedup app. Technically excellent, it loses a little for lack of any form of backup, but is still a good choice.

13. Panda Global Protection 2015

Panda Global Protection 2015 is a good option, if you need to protect a range of different devices from Windows PCs to Macs and Android machines. Not quite as generous as McAfee's ‘as-many-as-you-like' offering and a point off the perfect score in AV-Test's testing, the Panda product costs £20 less, too and is particularly easy to use.

12. eScan Total Security Suite 1

Since Microworld produces IS software for Mac and Android, as well as PC, it would be good to have cross-platform support in this suite, but given the asking price for a 3-PC licence (you can buy 1, 2, 3 and 5 PC variants), it's still very good value. It's quick, AV-Test shows it to be effective and its no-nonsense interface is refreshing.

11. F-Secure Safe 2014

The Usability score of 5.5 reflects a low total of five false positives, during system scans and the use of legitimate applications. The 4.5 figure for a Performance score shows a noticeable resource hit while running regular computing tasks, like downloading and installing software.

10. G Data TotalProtection 2014

With excellent protection and decent performance at a good price, we like G Data TotalProtection 2014.

9. Symantec Norton 360 2014

AV-Test gave the Norton code 17.0/18.0, a very good result. Broken down, this gives 5.5/6.0 in both Protection and Usability and a full 6.0/6.0 in Performance, even if this wasn’t reflected in our own tests of PC slowdown.

8. G-Data Internet Security 2015

G-Data Internet Security 2015 is relatively inexpensive for a full-featured security suite. It's not the most successful at beating out web threats, but it is sufficiently good to be worth installing. A decent purchase, if not the best.

7. Kaspersky Total Security 2015

A three-device, full protection IS suite for under £50 is good value and when that includes cover on all the major platforms, it should be flexible enough for most. Kaspersky Total Security 2015’s technical strength can’t be faulted, with only Avira Anti Virus Pro matching it in the AV-Test group.

6. Bullguard Internet Security 2014

We like Bullguard Internet Security 2014 a lot. It's AV and protection provision is robust and well automated, but it's also one of the most comprehensive suites we look at each year. Combining IS, backup and tune-up seems to us the ideal approach and this one suite handles all these issues in a sensible and easily controllable way. It's also one of the most economically-priced solutions out there.

5. Qihoo 360 Internet Security 4.3

Although the Performance score, which shows the resource hit, is a bit low, this wasn’t reflected in our own, admittedly simpler, test. The Protection result was pretty good on recent threats, though it dropped down to around 90 percent on zero-day attacks.

4. Trend Micro Internet Security 2015

With such a good performance and the lower asking price, Trend Internet Security 2015 represents very good value, even though it misses out on certain extras offered by some of its competition.

3. Bitdefender Total Security 2015

Bitdefender is consistently among the best IS suites we’ve tested and also provides the best AV protection, according to AV-Test. There are a few small chinks in its armour, though. The syncing process, by which it backs up designated files and folders is by no means clear and 2 GB of storage for a 3-PC package is downright mean. We’d want to check why the anti-theft feature places us in South Yorkshire, too.

2. Bitdefender Internet Security 2015

This is one of the very best AV suites available, in terms of outright protection against malware. It's also very good at not throwing up false warnings, but there are other products offering more auxiliary modules for the money.

1. Symantec Norton Security with Backup

Offering excellent value with 10 licences to cover all your devices, Norton Security with Backup also offers a strong feature set and very good protection from viruses and other malware. Recommended.

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