Security software

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What's behind our security software Ratings?

Experts at our National Testing and Research Center tested 18 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 against live exploits from websites and local drives.
  • Ease of use
    Ease of use covers installation, changing settings, and interacting with the software.
  • Malware scan
    Malware scan measures effectiveness scanning the PC for malware, both online and offline.
  • Resource drain
    Resource drain measures use of memory and tendency to slow computer operation during a scan.
  • Firewall
    Firewall shows how well the software and its firewall stopped rogue connections to and from the Internet.
  • Updating
    Updating shows how soon the product was able to protect against new malware.
  • Anti-phishing
    Anti-phishing measures the ability to block websites known to host malware.
  • Response to threats
    Response to threats indicates appropriateness 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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