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.