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What's behind our security software Ratings?

Experts at our National Testing and Research Center tested 19 models in security software to see which ones perform best.
We look for:
  • Overall score
    Based on performance detecting and blocking online and offline threats, ease of use, and effective response to newly-discovered malware.
  • Threat blocking
    Threat blocking shows how well the product protected automatically against live exploits from websites and local drives.
  • Ease of use
    Ease of use covers installation, changing settings, interacting with the software, and getting help.
  • Firewall
    Firewall shows how well the software and its firewall stopped rogue connections to and from the Internet. For products without a built-in firewall, the default Windows firewall was enabled.
  • Malware scan
    Malware scan measures effectiveness scanning the PC on demand for malware, both online and offline.
  • Use of resources
    Use of resources measures the software's use of memory, boot-up time impact and tendency to slow computer operation during a scan.
  • Anti-phishing
    Anti-phishing measures the ability to block websites known to host malware or fraud.
  • Updating
    Updating shows how soon the product was updated to detect newly-discovered malware.
  • USB drive threats
    Shows how well the product detected, blocked and removed malware on external drives.
  • Response to threats
    Response to threats indicates effectiveness of the suggested or default response to a detected threat.



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Recommended security software

Recommended security software are standout choices with high scores. They include CR Best Buys, which offer exceptional value. When narrowing your choices, weigh features, price, and attributes that matter to you.
  • Buying Guide
  • Price & Shop
Security software helps protect your computer—and the personal information you have stored on it. If you're looking for information about security software, Consumer Reports is your best resource. Use our security software buying guide to help you choose the best security software for your needs.

Security software buying guide

Security software buying guide

New PCs almost invariably come with a free trial version of a subscription security suite from a company such as Symantec or McAfee. But you can probably skip paying for those programs and still be safe online, our latest tests confirm.

Our evaluations, performed in conjunction with International Consumer Research & Testing, an association of independent, not-for-profit organizations, turned up free programs that should adequately protect all but the most at-risk Internet users from malware--viruses, spyware, and other online threats.

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