The Best Antivirus Software of 2016

Protect your data and privacy

Nick Moore
Updated 03-02-2017

Identity theft and data corruption are becoming increasingly more common. And in an era where many of us bank and shop online, it is essential to protect ourselves and our families. To help you do this, we have analysed the 8 best antivirus software in the market. Which is the best antivirus of 2016? 4 Major brands, McAfee, BitDefender, Norton and Kaspersky, are in close competition for the throne. Although each has their own specific advantages, they are all excellent choices. 

Most downloaded
24,99 GBP

25,97 GBP

24,50 GBP

29,99 GBP
- 38% - 35% - 51%
Overall Score Score combining Protection, Features and Support 100% 98% 96% 93%
Windows 10 Compatible Windows 10 Compatible
Antivirus protection Detection and protection from malware, viruses and more
Online payment protection Keeps all your online banking and shopping details secure
Password protection Remembers and secures your passwords
Firewall Keeps hackers and destructive elements out of your computer
Supported platforms Devices you can protect using this software
Amount of devices The amount of devices you can protect with one purchase 1-10 1-10 1-Unlimited 1-10
Money Back Guarantee Duration of return policy 60 days 30 days 30 days 30 days
Norton
Bitdefender
McAfee
Kaspersky

Norton Security 2016

Norton Security (or Norton Security, as it recently rebranded itself), is the flagship of the Californian security company, Symantec. Thanks to its long history of security excellence, it is an old acquaintance among PC users and one of the biggest brands in the industry. For many years now, Norton’s test results have been excellent, and 2016 is no exception. In fact, it is a particularly good year for Symantec’s Norton. It’s antivirus software scored top tier results in AV-Test’s independent analysis, it has a clean and intuitive interface, robust security tools and hardly any impact on a PC’s performance. If you are looking for the best antivirus software of 2016, Norton comes highly recommended.

Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2016

BitDefender has established itself in recent years, as a role model within the security software industry. It is a favourite of all independent test laboratories that specialise in IT security. It offers outstanding protection against all types of malicious software. The anti phishing shield is impenetrable. And at the same time BitDefender is the fastest security suite, which together with Norton, has the least impact on your PC’s performance.

McAfee Antivirus Plus & Internet Security 2016

McAfee Antivirus Plus 2016 scores excellently in the independent test labs,, on both protection and performance. It comes with an impressive range of features and offers something that the other three don’t: For one single purchase, you can protect all the Windows, Mac, iOS and Android devices you want. If you have a great amount of devices, and are looking for the best antivirus software of 2016, McAfee should be very high on your list.

Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2016

Kaspersky is a well respected brand with tradition and prestige in the world of computer security. And it’s latest protection software for Windows fully lives up to that name. The test results from the most authoritative independent test laboratories underline this: Kaspersky scores top-tier results in malware protection, maintaining it’s position among the best. Adding to this, are Kaspersky’s excellent anti-phishing shield, and useful bonus features that both protect and clean a PC thoroughly. Together with Norton, McAfee and BitDefender, it has our highest recommendation.

#1
24,99 GBP
Parental control IS Protect your children and family members with smart filters
Overall Score Mac Score combining Protection, Features and Support 95%
Score Internet Security Score combining Protection, Features and Support 98%
Antispam Internet Security Filters unwanted messages (spam) out of your mailbox
Firewall Internet Security Keeps hackers and destructive elements out of your computer
Password protection IS Remembers and secures your passwords
Temporary Discount Don’t miss out, save money! 50%
Overall Score Score combining Protection, Features and Support 98%
Windows 10 Compatible Windows 10 Compatible
Antivirus protection Detection and protection from malware, viruses and more
Online payment protection Keeps all your online banking and shopping details secure
Password protection Remembers and secures your passwords
Supported platforms Devices you can protect using this software
Amount of devices The amount of devices you can protect with one purchase 1-10
Money Back Guarantee Duration of return policy 30 days
24,99 GBP
25,97 GBP
Parental control IS Protect your children and family members with smart filters
Overall Score Mac Score combining Protection, Features and Support 97%
Score Internet Security Score combining Protection, Features and Support 98%
Antispam Internet Security Filters unwanted messages (spam) out of your mailbox
Firewall Internet Security Keeps hackers and destructive elements out of your computer
Password protection IS Remembers and secures your passwords
Temporary Discount Don’t miss out, save money! 50%
Overall Score Score combining Protection, Features and Support 96%
Windows 10 Compatible Windows 10 Compatible
Antivirus protection Detection and protection from malware, viruses and more
Online payment protection Keeps all your online banking and shopping details secure
Password protection Remembers and secures your passwords
Supported platforms Devices you can protect using this software
Amount of devices The amount of devices you can protect with one purchase 1-Unlimited
Money Back Guarantee Duration of return policy 30 days
25,97 GBP
24,50 GBP
Parental control IS Protect your children and family members with smart filters
Overall Score Mac Score combining Protection, Features and Support 100%
Score Internet Security Score combining Protection, Features and Support 100%
Antispam Internet Security Filters unwanted messages (spam) out of your mailbox
Firewall Internet Security Keeps hackers and destructive elements out of your computer
Password protection IS Remembers and secures your passwords
Temporary Discount Don’t miss out, save money! 25%
Overall Score Score combining Protection, Features and Support 100%
Windows 10 Compatible Windows 10 Compatible
Antivirus protection Detection and protection from malware, viruses and more
Online payment protection Keeps all your online banking and shopping details secure
Password protection Remembers and secures your passwords
Supported platforms Devices you can protect using this software
Amount of devices The amount of devices you can protect with one purchase 1-10
Money Back Guarantee Duration of return policy 60 days
24,50 GBP
29,99 GBP
Parental control IS Protect your children and family members with smart filters
Overall Score Mac Score combining Protection, Features and Support 93%
Score Internet Security Score combining Protection, Features and Support 92%
Antispam Internet Security Filters unwanted messages (spam) out of your mailbox
Firewall Internet Security Keeps hackers and destructive elements out of your computer
Password protection IS Remembers and secures your passwords
Temporary Discount Don’t miss out, save money! -
Overall Score Score combining Protection, Features and Support 93%
Windows 10 Compatible Windows 10 Compatible
Antivirus protection Detection and protection from malware, viruses and more
Online payment protection Keeps all your online banking and shopping details secure
Password protection Remembers and secures your passwords
Supported platforms Devices you can protect using this software
Amount of devices The amount of devices you can protect with one purchase 1-10
Money Back Guarantee Duration of return policy 30 days
29,99 GBP

We’ve analysed the leading 8 security suites of 2016

Click the logo’s to read the full reviews

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  • What is antivirus software?

    Antivirus programs are very capable software designed to safeguard your financial and privacy data, and prevent your PC, Mac, Android or iOS device from being hacked or infested by Malware. Especially on Windows PCs they are considered essential. 

    If the antivirus software detects that your system has been infected or is about to be infected, it will either solve the problem proactively on your behalf, or place the threat in quarantine and ask you to decide what to do with it.


    What is malware?

    Malware is short for malicious software. Which are programs designed to disrupt your PC or steal sensitive data, without you being aware of it until it’s too late. The term stands for a wide range of different programs, including computer viruses, key-loggers, phishing, worms, Trojan horses, spyware, adware or any other form of malicious code capable of infecting your system. 

    Generally speaking, any software designed to inflict harm to your device, track your behaviour, steal sensitive data or performs malicious acts without your consent, is considered malware. 


    What types of malware exist?

    Virus: Designed to infect your device, a computer virus can take control of some or all of its functions, replicate itself and spread to other computers. The motivation can be vandalism (such as disrupting your device) or financial (in which it will steal sensitive information such as passwords or credit card data). It can also be used to hijack your system and forward spam emails or (child) pornography, or attack websites from your system.

    Worm: A worm is known, just like a virus, for its self replicating characteristics. Although the two terms are often used interchangeably, viruses rely on human action to be able to spread, where worms have the capability to spread independently. A classic example is a worm finding its way into your system through email, and sending a copy of itself to your entire contact list. As it sends this message from your device, and under your name, this can often lead to embarrassing situations.

    Trojan Horse: As in the historic tale of the Greeks entering Troj stealthily on a wooden horse, the digital counterpart is malware disguised as legitimate software. Sometimes, the software can even have a legitimate purpose, but is hiding an ulterior motive underneath. The goal from this type of malware is very similar to that of a computer virus; capture data, spread data or disrupt your system.

    Adware: As the name suggests, adware automatically delivers advertisements. These can be pop-ups or in-software advertisements. Often, adware finds its way into your system through free software packages, that come bundled with adware. On top of this, adware is often combined with spyware, which is capable of tracking your activity and stealing information.

    Spyware: Spyware literally spies on you. In its most innocent form, it monitors your online behaviour, to be able to send you targeted advertisement. However, it can also be designed to harvest most sensitive information (credit cards, passwords, accounts) or track your keystrokes. 

    Phishing: Phishing is based on tricking you into giving up sensitive information, whether private or financial. Usually this involves pretending to be a legitimate link or website, that is actually designed to capture your details.

    Ransomware: A form of malware designed to capture your system and demand ransom for its release. It can do this by blocking your access to the system, or by encrypting important files on your hard drive. 

    Rootkit: A rootkit is designed to grant remote access to your system, without you or security programs noticing it. This allows the remote party to steal data, execute programs or modify configurations. Due to its stealth-like behaviour, it is one of the most difficult malware to detect.


    Do I need antivirus software?

    In our ever more connected (online) world, there is a lot of money to be made through cyber criminality and the creation of malware. This has lead to a rapidly evolving industry in which the volume of adware, spyware and other forms of malware increases daily. 

    The effects from malware range from fairly harmless, such as forced advertisement through adware or email spam, to terrible, such as spreading child pornography from your pc without you knowing it (zombie computers) or extort money by capturing your system and demanding payment (ransomware). 

    As ever more people are banking and shopping online, the financial up-side for malware creators increases. And with it, the amount of malicious software out there. To protect both your own financial data and privacy, and that of your family, we highly recommend investing in top antivirus software.

    What is the difference between free and paid antivirus software?

    Put simply: Free antivirus heals after the harm has been inflicted, where paid antivirus software prevents the harm from being done. An in a world where financial and privacy sensitive data are up for grabs, preventing is much better than healing.

    In more detail:

    Free antivirus is more of a virus-scanner than anti-virus software. This means it hunts down malware already invested on your pc using something called “signature-based detection”. Using this method, the software compares samples of potentially malicious code to its database of existing malware that have already been identified. If there is a match, it has discover a threat and either eliminates it pro-actively or places it in quarantine for you to decide. 

    Paid antivirus software goes a step beyond this approach. Outside of a wide range of bonus tools, the core difference is that in most modern programs, a heuristic process (/ self-learning process) is used to catch new, previously unidentified threats. Also called zero-day threats. To do this it uses the same “signature-based detection”, but in this case to identify new variants of existing virus code, instead of previously identified code. It also uses virtual environments (often referred to as a sandbox), to host viruses and see whether there is any harmful intent behind it. 

    As virus designers are fully aware of the difference between the two, they test their malware code against most known types, to make detection as difficult as possible for the antivirus software. It is therefor highly recommended to use paid software over free software, as it simply offers much more complete protection. 

    What types of antivirus software exist? 

    Practically all antivirus brands divide their products into 3 protection levels, in which the first caries the basic tools and the 2 following add additional (often online focused) security features. The only exception to this rule is Norton, which provides all security features in all its products. The difference between the three levels at Norton is which devices and how many you wish to protect.

    The 3 protection levels are:

    Antivirus - This entry-level security software provides the basic protection features: Proactive and retroactive file and system scans, to prevent new and eliminate old malware infections. 

    Internet Security - This mid-level security software provides everything included in antivirus, while adding a few online-focused security features on top. Often being a firewall, anti-spam and parental control. If you shop and bank online, this is a highly recommended security level for you.

    Total Security - The premium security level, providing file encryption, anti-theft and optimisation tools. 

    The exact divide of features between the various levels depends from brand to brand. So it pays to visit the product pages, where we have lined up exactly what you get in each security level of each brand. 

    How to choose the right antivirus software for me? 

    All antivirus brands try to solve the same problem and use the same set of tools to solves these. Their effectiveness in doing so however, is definitely not the same, with some being far more capable then others. These differences come to the light quickly, when analysing two points: The independent lab tests and the features to look for. Both are explained in more detail below.

    Independent lab tests

    As we read above, malware takes a great variety of forms, ranging from worms, trojans, viruses, spyware, adware, key-loggers to phishing scams. It is important that the antivirus software is capable of preventing and solving all these threats. To get the most objective answer to the question “what is the best antivirus software of 2016”, we have analysed the test results of all the independent IT security test labs:

    • AV-Comparatives
    • AV-Test
    • Dennis Technology Labs
    • ICSA Labs
    • Virus Bulletin
    • West Coast Labs

    These independent testing institutions analyse antivirus software for their capability to detect malware and prevent them from impacting your computer. Although all are capable laboratories, we consider the Germany based AV Test to be the most authoritative one. It is therefor, that we have taken their 3 segment approach, divided between protection, performance and usability, to provide you with insights into the most effective antivirus software of 2016.

    Protection

    AV Test analyses all security solutions, whether antivirus, internet security or total security, for their effectiveness against malware. They do this by installing the anti-malware software on non-infected devices and analysing their response to malware threats. In doing so, they simulate various real-life scenarios which include downloading malicious files from websites, transferring them from external storage devices (usb or external hard drives) or receiving them through email attachments. 

    After the analysis, everything is neatly scored on a 6 point scale and a ranking between the various security software is created. In our comparison above, you can find the protection score expressed by percentage, in which a higher score means better protection. 

    Performance

    All antivirus software use part of the processing power of a computer as they perform security checks on your behalf. The manner in which they do this however, is very different. And with it, the amount of resources they require. The best programs find the equilibrium between keeping you out of harms way, while leaving your computer performance free of too much burden. This is especially important if your PC is older or a more lightweight version, such as a netbook or chrome-book.

    AV Test performs 13 different actions to measure the effect a security suite has on the processing speed of your device. Examples include:

    • Downloading files online
    • Copying and distributing files locally and on a network
    • Installing software
    • Running and using commonly tools like Excel or Word

    As with the protection analysis, everything is ordered on a 6 point scale and the various security software are ranked in order of performance. In our comparison above, you can find the performance score expressed by percentage, in which a higher score means lower impact on your system’s speed.

    Usability

    One of the most important features of an antivirus software is to have an excellent detection rate, meaning it catches all malware threats. At the same time however, it is very disturbing for the user experience if the antivirus software throws up a lot of false positives, meaning it warns you that a malware threat has been detected when it really concerns legitimate software (a false alarm). 

    AV Test analyses for this type of behaviour by measuring how often a system detects the correct malware threat, in relation to how often it displays warning messages. Afterwards all security software are ranked on the well-known 6 point scale, and presented in order of performance. In our comparison above, you can find the usability score expressed by percentage, in which a higher score means greater detection of real threats and very little false positives.

    Features

    Outside of the protection, performance and usability aspects of the security tools, it is worth considering the features you are looking for and the ones provided by the security software. 

    A simple and intuitive interface

    The user interface is what the consumer sees when opening the software. It is visible part of the program and how it allows the user to interact with it. It is important that the interface guides the user, clearly and directly, through the various menus and security options. We put equal weight on look and feel, as well as on easy of use. 

    Customer service around the clock

    Customer service comes in a variety of forms, whether through self service on forums, in a FAQ (frequent asked questions) section, or in person, through email, telephone and online chat.

    The ideal options is to have technical support, ready to serve you around the clock (24 hours), 7 days a week. Several suppliers have this option available in English, but only few offer this in a great variety of languages. So especially if you are less well versed in English, it could be an important feature to look into to. 

    Rich additional features

    Antivirus software are also known as security suites as they are not necessarily limited to the detection and removal of malicious software. Often, additional tools are incorporated that improve your system’s organisation, prevent attacks from hackers, improve your family’s online experience or help you manage your passwords. Examples of these bonus features include:

    Password Generators and Managers: It is highly recommended to use unique passwords for every website you frequently (or infrequently) visit. Coming up with great passwords, and remembering a great variety of them, can be very difficult. Password generators help with the generation of these passwords, and password managers help in the storage of these. The latter allows you to have unique, nearly-unbreakable passwords for each different website, while still being able to access all your sites with one single master password. Very useful.  

    Secure keyboard: Key-loggers are hackers that use malware to track what you physically type on your keyboard. This allows them to track and capture passwords, credit card and payment details. In order to prevent this tracking from happening, the security software automatically recognises when you open a payment portal like Paypal, access your online banking or enter data into the check-out of a e-commerce store. When recognising this, the software automatically adds an additional layer of security, preventing key loggers from tracking your input. 

    Virtual keyboard: Tackling the same problem as above but in a different manner. Here the security suite opens a virtual keyword (displayed on your screen) that you type on using your mouse. This also prevents key-loggers to track your keyboard-input, as there is none. 

    Parental control: Sadly, the internet has become an equally beautiful as potentially hostile place. The parental control, equipped often in the higher level security software (such as internet security or total security), allows you to protect your children and family members from the hostile places. It restricts their access to places that have a high likelihood of exposing them to inappropriate information, that request them to disclose sensitive and private information, that try to trick them in making unexpected purchases, or expose them to sexual predators. 

    File Shredders, Encryption and Back-ups: Through automatic backups you can keep your most important files stored safely, no matter what. The encryption of them keeps them safely protected from unauthorised users. And the file shredders offer you to possibility to permanently delete sensitive data (just erasing it from the trash can, isn’t the same as permeant deletion). 

    Ready to go

    Okay, you are ready to choose the best antivirus (or security suite). If you want more information on the specific products, please visit our in-depth reviews of the specific brands. This is also where you can leave a user review if you are experienced with one of the products. As your opinion is very important to both us, and your fellow consumers, we would be highly appreciative to hear your opinion. 

    We offer advice on antivirus in a great variety of languages. If you would like to read more in a different language please view our antivirus section in Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, German, French, Italian, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish and Finish.

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    John Chapman 26-03-2016 Norton has been hacked to the source code and they have not done any thing to change it, which makes their program vulnerable. I would never use their product unless they redesigned it with a new engine.