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Security software showdown! 9 antivirus suites empirically tested

Nick Mediati and Sarah Jacobsson Purewal | Jan. 29, 2013
We tested security suites on PCs, tablets, and phones to evaluate how well they protect against viruses and other threats.

If you're like a lot of people, when it comes time to renew your security software, you may ask yourself, "Do I really need to upgrade to the latest version?" The answer is yes. Keeping up-to-date is generally a good idea, as new threats surface constantly. And if you value mobile security or use a social network, this year's crop of security suites is worth paying attention to.

An increasing number of security suites now feature special tools to help protect you on social networks-a growing target for spammers, scammers, and other parties who want to get at your personal information. For example, Trend Micro's Titanium Internet Security suite comes with a handy tool that highlights any possible areas of concern involving your Facebook privacy settings. Various suites also include tools that will scan links on social networks so that you aren't duped into clicking a malicious link hidden behind a URL shortener.

If you own a smartphone or tablet, or both, the security class of 2013 has some new tools for you. And some security packages come with a mobile app that provides protection against mobile malware or includes other features such as GPS tracking to help you find your phone should it go missing. These apps often also include remote-wipe capabilities that let you delete the contents of a missing phone or tablet so your private data doesn't end up falling into the wrong hands.

In addition, Windows 8 has changed the way security software makers design their programs. Many of the suites we looked at this year sport redesigned interfaces that include larger buttons and controls made to be more touch-friendly.

As usual, we teamed up with the fine folks at AV-Test, a respected antivirus testing lab based in Germany. AV-Test ran each suite through a comprehensive battery of tests to find out how well each would stand up to the worst malware currently in existence. AV-Test also performed speed testing to determine whether the suites will slow your PC to a crawl. We analyzed the data that AV-Test provided, and then tried each of the products ourselves to give you an idea of which suites you should go for-and which ones you should pass on.

Here are the suites we tested. You can click on each link to read individual reviews, or simply read this list for quick star ratings and summaries.

1. F-Secure Internet Security 2013 - 4.5 stars (Superior). F-Secure's latest suite offers excellent protection and a friendly user interface.

2. Norton Internet Security 2013 - 4.5 stars (Superior). With its great detection rate and Windows 8-ready design, Norton's suite is definitely worth a look.

3. Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security 2013 - 4.5 stars (Superior). This "titanium" suite earned high marks in almost all our detection tests, and it has a nice interface.


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