A guide to the best internet security software that won’t dent your wallet

3 min Read Published: 20 Jan 2011

Following my recent article concerning the pharming attack on my online bank account I thought it would be a good idea to do a quick overview of the best Internet security software in the market.

So over the last week I have been researching the best internet security suites for 2011 and have outlined the benefits and shortcomings of each. Internet security suites generally include anti-virus software, anti-spyware, and firewall protection. Everything you need to protect you while using the internet for personal banking, or indeed anything else.

But before we get started I must point out that you do not have to pay to keep your computer safe when you are online as there are a number of free internet security solutions available. However whilst these are perfectly adequate for home use they sometimes come up short in performance testing against their big hitting paid for cousins. In part, this is due to the fact that by charging for their security products, companies are immediately under a greater pressure to ensure that their customers are protected from the latest threats. Therefore it has been my experience that some free security suites do not protect you from the very latest threats, at least not immediately.

The leading internet security suites - reviewed

AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition - FREE
One of the oldest anti-virus and anti-spyware solutions on the market but still one of the best despite being free. It consistently performs well in testing and often its results are only marginally behind its paid for rivals. It has the added bonus of being easy to use. However, it does not include a firewall.

Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security 2011 - £
A paid for solution that is a high performer in testing and currently offers market leading protection. If you don’t mind paying then definitely one to consider.

Symantec Norton Internet Security 2011 - £
A mainstay of the internet security world. Norton is currently the market leader with a proven track record of good performance over a number of years. An excellent choice for the novice but where it falls down is on price with it being one of the more expensive solutions on the market.

Zone Alarm - £
Like Norton, Zone Alarm has been one of the most downloaded security solutions for a number of years. Feature heavy with good performance in testing, it is definitely worth considering. However the amount of management the frequent onscreen alerts require could prove annoying / unsettling for some users.

Bitdefender Internet Security 2011 - £
An unknown to me before I started researching and I have come to appreciate that this award winning solution is both high performing and feature packed. However a word of caution to anyone not comfortable with configuring software options as the large number of features mean that Bitdefender can be a little overwhelming for less advanced users.

Kaspersky Internet Security 2011 - £
Feature packed security solutions that stands shoulder to shoulder with its competitors in performance tests. This suite has some nice features like some rather useful low-resource features that can help reduce the impact of the software on the general performance of your pc. However my favourite feature is a Safe Run mode that offers extra protection when you are online banking!

Microsoft Security Essentials 1.0 - FREE
Light on features and not the best performing solution from the tests I’ve seen. If you want a free solution than AVG or Comodo may be a better bet.

F-Secure Internet Security - £
A straight forward interface that is good for less advanced users. But a lack of features and average performance in testing means that other solutions may be better suited to both your needs and your wallet.

McAfee Internet Security 2011 - £
A personal favourite of mine for many years with good parental control and secure erasing features. However recent performance in testing has shown that McAfee is not what it used to be so personally I would look at one of the other solutions ahead of this one.

Comodo Internet Security - FREE
An all in one solution completely free of charge. Good performance against most threats and the fact it needs little interaction once it has been installed has meant that I have recommended this software to friends in the past and see no reason why I will not continue to do so in the future.

If you are still unsure of which security software is best for you why not try a free trial of the ones that sound like they might be for you and then decide.

Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net