In an IT landscape still marked by cybercrime and various attacks (ransomware, botnets, after-sales scams….) and reinforced by the health crisis and the massive use of telecommuting, the installation of a security suite remains highly recommended to navigate the Internet serenely and work safe from data leaks. We have compared the offerings of the top 10 antivirus vendors and we deliver our findings.
What is the best antivirus for 2021?
To help protect your Windows computer, here’s the Best Antivirus Software of 2021:
- Trend Micro
- AVG Technologies
- Avira Prime
1. Bitdefender Total Security Antivirus 2021: the best in all categories
Described as an outstanding product by leading independent testing laboratories, the Bitdefender suite is very impressive. Despite some unclear functions, it offers optimal protection and excellent comfort of use. Able to operate in total autonomy thanks to its auto-pilot mode, it is an ideal protection for families and novices who do not need to take care of anything. Conversely, experts have discreet access to many settings to be able to configure each module. So many assets that make the 2021 edition a very grand cru.
Undisputed champion for several years, Bitdefender Total Security 2021 continues to offer the strongest suite, brilliant both for its efficiency, simplicity of use, relevance of its offer and a more than moderate impact on Windows performance.
Bitdefender: Bitdefender has five different antivirus packages, each with different prices depending on the number of devices (usually three, five, or 10) and subscription length (one, two, or three years). Prices for these packages start at $19.99/$39.99 for one device for one year for Antivirus Plus. The most expensive plan costs $89.99/$149.99 for 10 devices for one year for Bitdefender Premium Security. On the downside, Bitdefender includes only limited VPN services and no identity theft protection. View Plans
Protection, features, ergonomics and interface
Bitdefender Total Security 2021 continues to squat the podiums of independent laboratories, approaching perfection on Comparative AV tests or AV Test, on known and unknown threats
The suite’s protection remains based on a multi-layer approach that uses both cloud and behavioral analytics to combat any type of threat, from Trojan to rootkit, with Advanced Threat Defense monitoring and a ransomware protection module that effectively protects data.
The latest in the suite targets ransomware and its remediation, or network attacks with the Network Threat Prevention module. These improvements have reinforced an already solid protection on all points: web, online payments, system vulnerabilities … all with an impact on Windows performance that remains negligible.
Features, ergonomics and interface
The BitDefender interface evolves for this release, adopting a little more colorful visuals and a more didactic approach to guide the neophyte user. The software remains nevertheless recommendable to experts thanks to well-crafted options.
In terms of features, the full version of Bitdefender Total Security remains the most bundled with tools on all tables : Windows performance optimization, digital vault, webcam monitoring, firewall, anti-theft, file shredder and password manager, with neat modules for the most part. Only regret: a VPN that remains limited to 200 MB / day.
Finally, we will remember its excellent web console Bitdefender Central and successful applications on all platforms : Windows, macOS, iOS and Android.
- Ransomware remediation
- Adaptive network protection
- New graphical interface
2. Norton 360 Premium: the best family suite
Renamed Norton 360 Premium, NortonLifeLock’s security suite that covers up to 10 devices (Windows, Mac, Android and iOS) is still one of the most secure and best suited for family use. In addition to an arsenal of defensive shields capable of blocking all types of threats, it stands out for its functional wealth unmatched on the market, including an unlimited VPN, a 75 GB cloud storage space, or a password manager. A must…
Norton: Norton has five primary antivirus/identity theft protection packages that range in price. Norton 360 Standard costs $39.99 for the first year and $79.99 thereafter. On the upper end is Norton 360 with LifeLock Ultimate Plus, which costs $299.99/$349.99. If you just want antivirus protection, consider Norton Antivirus Plus for $19.99/$59.99. View Plans
Norton Lifelock continues to assert the reputation for reliability and efficiency that the Norton 360 suite – which has become the banner of its entire offering – remains one of the most simple to use and transparent solutions for the user.
Multi-layer protection is based on the same foundation: SONAR behavioral protection combines with a cloud-based reputation detection system that Norton was among the first to integrate into its solutions, threat virtualization, or enhanced monitoring of files that can be attacked by ransomware. A solid package that comes with protections against exploits, fraudulent sites or intrusions.
Norton 360 performs with honors in terms of efficiency with a maximum result on the latest tests performed by the AV-Test laboratory, which allows the suite to obtain a Top Product label. On AV Comparatives, it is only narrowly that Norton 360 drops the Advanced + label, the fault of a high number of false positives. Overall, however, Norton offers very good quality protection.
Features, ergonomics and interface
If Norton 360 has not evolved its user interface for several years, with the exception of a new hub “My Norton”, the need is not necessarily felt, Norton Lifelock having found in recent years a formula that is both easy to access, readable, compatible with the mouse as with the touch, and effective for the main tasks.
On the feature side, Norton 360 has been in a way the pioneer of “all in one” suites, and it continues to apply this approach by being one of the few antivirus to integrate a free and unlimited VPN. Norton 360 features also incorporate the publisher’s expensive online backup and optimization tools, with 75 GB provided in Norton 360 Premium.
We may regret a web interface a little fair in features, but the quality of mobile applications, especially for Android, rather successful. On Google’s OS, Norton is among those that provide the most responsive and accurate information about downloaded applications.
- Secure VPN with unlimited access (Windows, macOS and Android)
3. Kaspersky Total Security Antivirus 2021: the most protective
Many publishers should take an example of Kaspersky’s care for every detail of its security suite. The Russian publisher leaves absolutely nothing to chance and for many reasons deserves to be in the first place in this comparison. But as in previous years, the publisher sins by its lack of commercial competitiveness with overpriced offers unsuitable for current demand.
Kaspersky: Kaspersky antivirus software packages are available with three-, five-, 10-, or 20-device coverage and in one-, two-, or three-year subscriptions. Introductory discounts of 50% are available for all versions except the top-tier Security Cloud antivirus package, which has a 40% introductory discount. Annual prices range from $29.99 for three devices for the Windows-only Anti-Virus plan ($59.99 upon renewal) to $74.99 for 10 devices for Kaspersky Total Security ($149.99 upon renewal). None of Kaspersky’s packages include a full VPN or identity theft protections. View Plans
Kaspersky Total Security 2021 continues on a rather slow pace of evolution : the interface undergoes some cosmetic changes, but the ergonomic and functional bases remain the same.
The Kaspersky Total Security 2021 protection is based on the same pillars : the cloud via the Kaspersky Security Network combined with a good dose of heuristics and behavioral analysis, and a protection still as robust on the banking part, ransomware or network exploit, both online and offline.
On the latest AV-Test and AV Comparative tests on the end of 2020, Kaspersky makes a faultless or almost. The first lab notes no hitches in its detection of recent threats or even zero days, nor any false positives. AV Comparatives brings out high-quality online and offline protection and again a limited number of false positives.
Despite a small downside on the impact on performance that remains limited, Kaspersky confirms the solidity and optimization of its protection.
Features, ergonomics and interface
The Kaspersky interface evolves little, but there is frankly not much to change to this ergonomics which remains today one of the best balances between simplicity of use and wealth of options, enough to satisfy both neophytes and experts.
In terms of features, Kaspersky Total Security is also the most consistent suite and the richest both on the amount of features offered (parental control, password management, firewall, encryption….) as on the quality of realization of these modules.
Finally, we appreciate the consistency of the solution on all platforms, including on the web where Kaspersky offers the most functional interface that we have seen, offering a real remote administration of the different devices. We also appreciate quality mobile and Mac applications for Total Security users in multi-device mode.
- Kaspersky Security Cloud (free web protection tool)
- Password Manager and Software Updater Improvements
4. F-Secure TOTAL Antivirus 2021: easy to use and focused on privacy
F-Secure TOTAL brilliantly proves that a security suite does not have to offer too wide a range of features if the modules present are relevant, well thought out and effective. And this is the case, especially thanks to a very good user interface that will be at most a little frustrating for experts who like to configure everything to the smallest detail. The publisher’s focus on privacy protection is a well-controlled angle, and the effectiveness of the protection confirms the progress of recent years to rise again among the best suites of the moment. View Plans
F-Secure TOTAL continues the momentum of previous versions with a solution that emphasizes ease of use, while providing effective and comprehensive threat protection, on all devices in your family.
With an approach that combines machine learning and the cloud, F-Secure TOTAL 2021 ranks among the best in the market according to AV-Test and AV-Comparatives. The first measures absolute faultlessness, without false alarm and with optimal detection. It is a little worse at AV
Comparatives where we note a very small flaw in the protection rate, but it remains excellent, with a very limited impact on the performance of Windows.
Features, ergonomics and interface
F-Secure already distinguished itself by being one of the first publishers to integrate a VPN into its solution. This one is not only provided : Freedome, especially used on iOS and Android, is also unlimited. You can surf serenely with a VPN certainly not among the fastest, but very effective in terms of data protection.
F-Secure has also revised its privacy offering with a new ID Protection module that replaces and complements the KEY password manager. ID Protection can also track the leak of your personal information on the dark web.
Despite having access to a few additional settings compared to previous editions, the F-Secure interface remains too minimalist for experienced users. For general public use, we are still in the presence of one of the best choices alongside Norton 360.
- ID Protection: password management and monitoring of data leaks on the dark web
- Built-in and unlimited Freedome VPN
5. ESET Smart Security Premium 2021: the best performing
Despite fairly measured evolutions from version to version, ESET Smart Security Premium remains a highly recommended security solution, especially for those who like antivirus with targeted features, a chatty interface and settings offering a very good level of granularity. Despite everything, without putting your hands in the engine, it is also a very good software for more novice users, provided you do not expect the same panel of features as the most provided suites in this matter.
ESET: ESET sells three antivirus software configurations in one-, two- or three-year subscriptions. The cheapest option costs $39.99 a year for basic malware defense for one device. The most advanced option is the Smart Security Premium package, which starts at $59.99 for one device for one year. Subscriptions cover a specific number of devices rather than a set number (such as five or 10), which is more common in antivirus plans. View Plans
With 110 million users for its security solutions and more than 1 billion for Chrome, ESET is now one of the heavyweights on the market. This partnership with Google, which was extended in 2019 to the protection of the Play Store, allows the publisher to aggregate huge masses of data to improve its detection tools and its home cloud base “Live Grid”. Year after year, the Slovak publisher refuses to fall into the overbidding of additional features and continues to focus on the performance of its software and its arsenal of defensive shields.
ESET is no longer included in the list of publishers tested by AV-TEST since 2017, we must be content with the results of the Austrian laboratory AV-Comparatives. According to the results of the October 2019 test report, ESET Smart Security’s threat detection rate is 98.4 %. The program also reported 2 false positives (erroneous detections). Honorable scores, but quite disappointing compared to those of some competitors like Norton and Kaspersky who realize a full card with a detection rate of 100% and no false positives. Unsurprisingly, the report shows that ESET’s solution has the lowest impact on the system.
Features, ergonomics and interface
ESET Smart Security offers a particularly effective banking protection system. The latter works through a secure in-house browser that automatically encrypts all data as well as communications between the keyboard and the system to guard against keyloggers (keyloggers).
A network scanner called “Monitoring of home connected devices” allows to monitor the Internet box as well as all objects connected to the network. In addition to the ability to block possible intrusions on devices, it is possible to update or disconnect them.
The program also has a webcam protection module, minimalist parental controls, a system for encrypting data and a password manager (premium version only). Although unchanged for several years, the ESET interface has an ergonomics that is both simple to handle and highly customizable.
Without being the most complete, the associated web console MyESET includes some interesting options, including a social network scanner.
6. Antivirus G DATA Total Security 2021: feature-rich, but confusing interface
G DATA does not seem to be on the path of change, which should not disappoint the regulars of the sequel. With offline protection appearing the best parties on the market, the suite shows a noticeable resource cost. A redesign of the interface would be most desirable to succeed in competing with the tenors of the market on all terrains. View Plans
Nothing seems to look more like an old version of G DATA than a new version of G DATA. The German, UK, USA, security suite evolves very little according to the years, and it does not change.
Among the latest innovations, the Deep Ray system has enriched the two-engine protection of the suite to bring a touch of artificial intelligence with its neural network designed for zero day threats.
The arsenal still includes strong protections against ransomware, exploits, fraudulent sites… In short, it does not change but it is still as robust.
This effectiveness is confirmed on laboratory tests. since early 2020, G DATA Total Protection has only missed AV Test’s Top Product label once. And on the latest test, from November and December 2020, the suite achieves a perfect score on all three criteria: threat protection including zero day, false positives and impact on Windows performance. This efficiency is confirmed by AV Comparatives, G DATA being one of the few solutions to obtain a protection score of 100%, with only a few false positives.
Features, ergonomics and interface
G DATA, like other publishers, always relies on an unchanged interface. On the other hand, unlike F-Secure or Kaspersky which do not really need a redesign, the overloaded interface of G DATA, especially in its Total Protection version, would benefit frankly to review its copy, if only to prioritize a little better its multiple features.
And precisely, it is all the more regrettable that the solution benefits from a great functional richness with many modules for parental control, data backup, encryption, system optimization… A real antivirus “Swiss army knife” efficient and serious, but which we hope that the modernized web interface is a sign of a future overhaul.
7. McAfee Total Protection Antivirus 2021: still perfect but in progress
McAfee may not be perfect and stay a little behind the best security suites of the moment, we must admit that the American publisher has worked well on its suite in recent months to improve its ergonomics and enrich the value of its suite with a VPN finally included in the application. On the interface, the consumer side remains a little too pronounced compared to other competitors who know how to place the cursor so as not to annoy more expert users, but we appreciate the work done on alerts and visuals. And on its effectiveness, McAfee Total Security always makes a good figure although, again, a little behind the holders of the podium.
McAfee: McAfee antivirus software ranges in price from $29.99 for one device for the first year ($79.99 upon renewal) for McAfee Total Protection to $39.99 for McAfee LiveSafe, which covers an unlimited number of devices for one year ($119.99 upon renewal). View Plans
The McAfee Total Protection 2021 suite remains in the nails of previous versions in terms of its protection, that is to say of good quality but not infallible.
AV Test, in its latest benchmark dating from November and December 2020, does not see much to complain about, and even nothing except a small false positive detected. At AV Comparatives, it’s more nuanced. First, the offline detection rate is rather low. This is balanced by a perfect protection rate – i.e. blocking rate. That’s the main thing, right? Unfortunately, on the last Real World Protection Test of October 2020, which puts the security suites in real conditions, AV Comparatives still detects 11 compromises.
The whole thing is done with a moderate impact on performance : the installations, according to AV Test, are noticeably slowed down. On the other hand, the impact on web browsing, downloading or running software is negligible.
Features, ergonomics and interface
McAfee has focused most of its efforts on improving its behavioral analysis engine, particularly with the goal of limiting false positives. Given the low number detected on the last tests, it looks conclusive. The publisher has also strengthened its protection of the web with better support for social networks and protection against after-sales scams that have multiplied, according to the publisher, with the increase in the use of telecommuting.
Finally taking example on its American competitor Norton Lifelock, McAfee finally offers a VPN integrated into the main interface, and obviously not limited. A late but welcome addition.
Otherwise, improvements have been made to the user experience despite an interface that does not evolve in the main lines. But let’s say that many points have been reviewed for clarity and readability, a small UX effort still relevant for neophyte users.
- Interface improvements
- AI improvements
- Better social and web protection
8. Avira Prime 2021: a half-completed overhaul
Avira Prime is not a bad security solution in itself. Its performance in terms of protection is certainly not infallible, but remains of a good level and we appreciate the efforts undertaken to clarify a little the interface for beginners, even if the regulars of Avira will, as for them, pout. We could laugh at the fact that they are left with the old-fashioned parameters, but frankly, we would prefer that the redesign be total and consistent. In terms of features, it’s a bit the same : on the one hand we applaud the presence of an unlimited VPN in the Avira Prime offer, and on the other we deplore the absence of a real firewall.
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Known in part for its free antivirus, however, Avira offers a suite that is more than correct in terms of its performance and the effectiveness of its detection and blocking technologies, even if it is not yet free of defects.
Thus, AV Test and AV Comparatives still note some occasional small flaws that prevent it from successfully detecting all zero-day threats. Nevertheless, the suite still offers a good level of protection with remarkable reliability : where we could blame the editors officiating in the free antivirus a tolerance to false positives, Avira Prime limits their number to a minimum.
Avira also continued to work on the impact on the performance of its suite, with rather convincing results on this 2021 edition which slows down the use of the system rather little.
Features, ergonomics and interface
Avira has often disappointed us with its interface not only aging but not the most successful. This time, the German publisher has completely revised its copy, at least on the surface. And what has been recast has been recast in a relevant way in our opinion, even if this new ergonomics divides the regulars. What we especially reproach the editor is for having a little hidden the dust under the carpet : as soon as we venture into the settings, we find the old interface, which is more with bugs of display on the high resolution screens.
Avira makes up for its features and especially its VPN, by joining Norton Lifelock in the club of suites that offer a free and unlimited VPN. It’s good, Avira has also joined Norton Lifelock all short, one would be tempted to say.
Pending the outcome of this merger, it is an imperfect security solution in all respects, but still successful enough to offer a relevant alternative to the”big ones”.
- New interface
- Improved detection engines
- Performance optimization (software weight, less resource consumption…)
9. Trend Micro Maximum Security 2021: A simple but perfectible solution ?
Trend Micro Maximum Security est typiquement le genre de suite qu’on aimerait pouvoir recommander sans hésitation, car elle coche toutes les cases que l’on aime voir cochées. L’interface est minimaliste et prend l’utilisateur néophyte par la main sans être intrusif, les fonctionnalités essentielles sont là, et l’impact sur les performances, point noir des précédentes versions, semble ici avoir été corrigé. Malheureusement, il subsiste toujours des doutes sur la fiabilité de sa protection dans toutes les conditions, et il manque à Trend Micro Maximum Security des fonctionnalités telles qu’un VPN ou un gestionnaire de mots de passe aussi robuste que celui de concurrents comme BitDefender ou F-Secure.
Trend Micro: Trend Micro antivirus offers a range of antivirus software. On the cheaper side, it costs $29.95 for one year of the Windows-only Antivirus+ Security. The Maximum Security package covers up to 10 devices and costs $154.95 for a two-year subscription. Trend Micro’s antivirus programs include minimal identity theft protection and lack a VPN, although the company sells a separate VPN. View Plans
Trend Micro is quite difficult to follow on its protection which, according to the laboratories, does a bit of yoyo between excellence and sometimes surprising flaws.
Among the publishers that have chosen to make the most of the cloud, Trend Micro offers an arsenal of defense quite close to its competitors, between behavioral protection and “traditional” detection.
The software suite also includes strong defensive shields for the protection of financial transactions, social networks, or fraudulent emails.
Yet, despite relevant security features, one is a little mixed on its actual performance. AV Test does not score anything serious and even a perfect score on its tests in November and December 2020.
The doubt comes from AV Comparatives which does not assign any label to the suite during its test of September 2020, a counter performance that is explained by an abnormally high number of compromises during the execution of the tested samples. It is still necessary to nuance this misstep: on the last test “Real World Protection”, Trend is faithful to its usual reputation. A passing limp?
Features, ergonomics and interface
We like Trend Micro for its simplicity and its no-frills approach that does not seek to multiply features, while the main thing is there, and rather well presented by an interface that is both simple, fluid and didactic for novice users. A real success.
The protection still has some shortcomings in its features, including its somewhat aging parental control, and a VPN for absent subscribers. Difficult to find a balance between gadget features and relevant modules, but Trend Micro could do a little more.
Finally, if the web interface is nothing extraordinary, Trend Micro offers two mobile applications of good quality, on Android as on iOS, exploiting very well the possibilities of each system in terms of security, including Apple’s platform yet much more locked.
In the end we would love to love Trend Micro which ticks almost all the boxes that we like to see ticked on this type of software, but doubts that we hope passengers remain on this latest version.
10. Antivirus BullGuard Premium Protection 2021: the best web protection
Bullguard Premium Protection, on the whole, is a decent suite that plays the card of familiarity : one does not risk ruining the accustomed users with an interface that moves so little. The protection seems effective and relevant, and the essential features are there even if, for the price, it may be missing a VPN.
Bullguard is not for everyone, but those who appreciate this suite precisely because it does not try to please novice users too much will not be baffled. For others, on the other hand, there are probably more suitable choices on the side of Bitdefender, Kaspersky or Norton.
The BullGuard Premium Protection 2021 security suite does not revolutionize the genre but displays a robust multilayer protection, and an approach that instead makes the bet to appeal to audiences such as gamers.
The data on Bullguard is a bit complicated to cross-reference, as AV Comparatives stopped integrating the solution into their benchmarks in 2018. Therefore remains AV Test, which notes rather very good results since 2020, and a Top Product on its last tests of November and December 2020, even if the solution was tested with more irregular scores before this date.
The impact of Bullguard on performance is one of the areas of improvement that the publisher seems to have worked on and with the exception of the slightly slowed installation of software, the impacts of the software seem quite limited.
Features, ergonomics and interface
Bullguard has not moved frankly on its interface which remains on its gains. For users accustomed to the software, it is nothing prohibitive, on the contrary since each version is almost identical to the previous one since 2014. On the other hand, if the experts will be rather satisfied, the general public will be able to sulk at this ergonomics that is not for everyone.
There is also some irregularity in the functionalities. Some are very well thought out, including the firewall. Others are to absent subscribers. So, even if it is not essential, at the price of the suite, why not offer an iOS version ? And while Bullguard markets a VPN, we would like the publisher to take inspiration from F-Secure to integrate it into its Premium Protection suite.
The best free antivirus
Increasingly complete, free antivirus from Avast and Microsoft do not have to blush in the face of paid suites. As evidenced by the tests carried out by AV-TEST and AV-Comparatives, they are now among the best protections on the market. To the chagrin of security vendors, Microsoft’s natively integrated Windows Defender antivirus in Windows 10 has made significant progress and now has a set of defensive shields that allow it to fight against all types of threats, including ransomware, exploits, and more. The Windows Security Center also offers a firewall and parental control system, two features usually reserved for paid security suites. Its anti-phishing SmartScreen is unfortunately only available for the Edge home browser. Windows Defender now provides reliable protection for PCs.
Avast’s popular solution includes versions for macOS and Android and offers many additional features. However, it does not have a parental control system and a firewall, but PC users can use those built into Windows. Reliable, efficient and user-friendly, Avast Free Antivirus has almost everything. As with Windows Defender, minimalist anti-phishing protection is its main weak point. These free antiviruses may be enough for many cautious users, but they are still too limited to be able to replace a paid cross-platform security suite to effectively protect homes.
11. Avast Antivirus Free 2021: the best free security suite
Compatible with Windows, macOS and Android platforms, Avast Free Antivirus 2021 still has serious arguments to make both in terms of its defensive qualities as well as its functional richness and its user-friendly interface. It now lacks only a worthy anti-phishing to compete with… the best paid suites.
Avast: Avast offers completely free antivirus software along with two paid antivirus software packages under both the Avast and AVG brands. Avast also sells Omni, a separate combined hardware/antivirus protection subscription solution to protect smart home/Wi-Fi networks. Prices range from $39.99 to $69.99 for the first year for a single device, and from $69.99 to $119.99 a year thereafter to protect 10 devices. View Plans
Avast Free Antivirus impresses with the quality of its interface and its functional richness for a free security suite. With more than 400 million users worldwide, the publisher is not letting its guard down and continues to improve its product.
For many users, Avast is THE ideal solution to protect their devices without having to spend a penny. It is true that Avast Free Antivirus 2021 offers strong defensive shields against all types of threats, including the most sophisticated malware.
Despite the improvements announced by the publisher, it is still at the level of its anti-phishing defenses that lies its main weakness. Unlike all paid antivirus tested this year, the free suite was the only one that failed to block some recent phishing sites. The general service is nevertheless excellent, even superior to that of some paid suites.
AV-TEST’s October 2018 test results speak for themselves as the software was able to detect 99.3% of zero-day attacks, including malicious web pages, and 100% of the most common malware on 21,257 samples. It also has a remarkable zero false positive detection rate.
Features, ergonomics and interface
Despite many options reserved for the premium versions of Avast, the free suite is not lacking in attractions. It includes an excellent Wi-Fi protection module to scan the network and identify possible security vulnerabilities, a password manager, an application update function, a system cleaning and optimization system, or a new advanced game mode.
This is more than some paid editions! Far from falling asleep on its laurels, the editor has also evolved by small touches the interface of its software by improving the layout and graphics of certain menus.
12. Microsoft Windows Defender: the best integrated solution
Increasingly powerful and complete, Microsoft Windows Defender is now a reliable antivirus for Windows 10. If the publisher decides to add a sandbox and extend its SmartScreen anti-phishing technology to all browsers, it may well begin to seriously shadow paid solutions. View Plans
Now on the same level as Avast Free Antivirus and some paid antivirus software, Windows Defender now provides reliable protection against the most advanced threats.
The Redmond firm was even awarded last summer the famous “Top Product” so coveted by the German UK, USA, institute AV-TEST for an overall score of 6.0/6.0 identical to the best suites on the market.
Like them, Windows Defender now relies on a state-of-the-art detection engine combining machine learning, artificial intelligence, and behavioral analysis techniques. Microsoft does not intend to stop in such a good way and already offers on the versions of Windows 10 Pro and Enterprise a sandbox to launch potentially suspicious applications in a virtual environment, isolated and temporary totally secure. This feature is likely to be extended to consumer versions of Windows 10 soon.
The anti-phishing filter is still reserved only for the Edge home browser, but Microsoft now offers an equivalent free extension called Windows Defender Browser Protection for Chrome.
Features, ergonomics and interface
The free and perfectly integrated native antivirus of Windows has a passive mode to use another security solution in parallel. The Windows Security Center may not be as feature-rich as Avast’s free solution, but unlike the latter, it has essential features such as an advanced firewall with plenty of settings to protect the network, a compelling parental control system (only on Windows), and a web console. Perfectly implemented in Windows, the security system works in the background in a completely transparent way for users.
13. AVG Technologies Antivirus
AVG Technologies: AVG sells two paid subscription antivirus software packages. AVG Internet Security runs on Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS. Subscription prices range from $39.99 ($69.99 after the first year) for one computer to $49.99 ($89.99 after the first year) for up to 10 devices. AVG’s Ultimate package includes a VPN and AVG PC TuneUp. It covers 10 devices for one year for $79.99 ($119.99 thereafter). AVG sells a separate VPN as well. View Plans
Sophos: Sophos sells a single antivirus software package, Sophos Home Premium, in one-, two-, and three-year subscriptions. Home Premium on a one-year plan costs $44.99 a year. A two-year plan costs $74.99, and a three-year plan costs $104.99. The free version, Sophos Home Free, protects a combination of up to three computers. View Plans
How to choose your antivirus in 2021?
With the scale and sophistication of threats, traditional scanning techniques that rely on databases of malicious code signatures have become obsolete.
Security vendors are now focusing on proactive defense by developing heuristic and behavioral detection engines based on artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies. In charge of detecting malicious programs and variants of those already known, they are based on the recognition of pieces of code as well as the behavior of the files in execution.
Although the level of protection of antivirus suites has increased overall, they continue to distinguish themselves by the richness and quality of their additional features (Wi-Fi network monitoring, banking protection, web control center, smart firewall, secure browser, VPN…), the user-friendliness of their local and web control interface, their impact on system performance, or the possibilities of advanced settings.
We have selected twelve paid editions of the main market players in France, as well as two free solutions for Windows. Mac antiviruses are the subject of a separate folder.
Since each publisher has many distinct versions, we have favored in fairness the premium solutions for Windows common to each of them.
As a first step, we evaluated their defensive capacity based on the results of tests from the independent reference laboratories AV-TEST and AV-Comparatives dating from October 2018. They take into account the detection rate of different types of attacks (zero-day, ransomware…), the impact on system performance, interface and ergonomics, as well as the number of false positives (harmless program blocks). A large majority of security suites offer cross-platform licenses including Windows, macOS, Android, and to a lesser extent iOS.
In general, the protections for Windows and Android are more accomplished than those for macOS and especially iOS which remain siloed by Apple. We then confronted their performance, ergonomics, as well as their different features by conducting our own tests on a standard PC running Windows 10.
Once again, they reveal that most security suites offer a very high threat detection rate that is the same or very close to it.
2021, the year of all dangers?
If you are wondering what an antivirus protects you from , the list continues to grow : denial of services, exploitation of security holes, phishing, zero-day, network intrusions, ransomware, cryptojacking, botnets, these are just a few examples of the attack techniques used by cybercriminals of our time. More and more diverse, discreet and sophisticated, the latter claim a little more victims each year.
The year 2020 was marked by an unprecedented number of attacks. Zero-day vulnerabilities that involve exploiting previously unreported security holes to infect endpoints with malicious charges have literally exploded. Even though they are specifically targeting businesses, cryptominers have recorded an increase of more than 100 %. After a slight lull, ransomware has returned in force by targeting their victims ever more finely. Not to mention the multiplication of massive hacks of high-tech giants-Amazon, Google, Facebook, etc. – which have not stopped making headlines throughout the year.
In 2018, the AV-TEST laboratory detected more than 250,000 new malware per month and 28.4 million malicious applications in total over the year alone… on the Android platform. It’s even worse for Windows which has totaled no less than 850 million new malware, or 4.4 malware per second ! In this context, it is becoming more essential than ever to protect your terminals.
A rising level of protection
First surprise, and not least, Avast Free Antivirus and Microsoft Windows Defender have entered the podium of antivirus protections among the most reliable on the market alongside paid versions.
Compared to the latter, their respective anti-phishing and identity protections are still too limited. According to test reports from independent labs AV-TEST and AV-Comparatives, Bitdefender, F-Secure, Kaspersky, Norton, ESET, BullGuard, and Trend Micro are among the most reliable protections on Windows in 2020. All have a near-constant threat detection rate of 100 %, but they are sometimes quite distinct on the false positive detection rate.
Antivirus software companies are showing more and more performance overall : “Never before have so many manufacturers distinguished themselves by such excellent performance as last year ! “emphasize the experts of AV-TEST in the report of their ranking of antivirus editions 2020. As in previous years, there are still large price differences that are too often unjustified between the different antivirus licenses. An important criterion to consider, as well as cross-platform coverage and the number of devices included by licenses.
New protections and features
For this year 2021, most publishers have chosen to optimize the defensive capabilities and existing features of their security suites, rather than developing new ones. As a result, the level of threat protection, identity and network protection tools has improved overall.
Anti-ransomware and anti-exploit shields are based on artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies that perform advanced real-time analytics on the cloud. The different methods proposed by the editors consist either to completely secure sensitive folders (documents, photos, videos…) through encryption technologies, or to monitor running folders and applications in order to block unauthorized programs or processes that would attempt to lock data. Some publishers like Trend Micro, Bitdefender, Norton, ESET or Kaspersky stand out particularly with advanced anti-ransomware tools.
At the registry of novelties, Bitdefender and Norton have developed new advanced remediation tools that have hitherto been rather reserved for enterprise versions. As long as you subscribe to the automatic renewal of its antivirus, McAfee provides its users with a team of experts responsible for disinfecting the devices.
All of our comparison’s security solutions incorporate more or less advanced anti-phishing and identity protection modules to block identity theft attempts as well as unsafe websites and downloads.
The security suites of F-Secure, BullGuard, Avira,Kaspersky, ESET or Norton excel particularly in everything related to web defense and privacy. In 2018, publishers like Bitdefender, Avira or Avast started offering true independent VPNs with their security suite. In addition to restricted access to the servers, they were limited to 200 or 300 MB of daily data consumption. Avira and F-Secure decided to go one step further this year by combining their respective premium solutions with an unlimited VPN. Ultra competitive market requires, it is a safe bet that this type of offer will become widespread in 2021.
Let’s also bet that publishers take the example on Bitdefender, Norton, ESET and especially Kaspersky to develop web consoles that remain top often minimalist. Special mention for that of Kaspersky which is the only one that really allows to remotely manage all the functions of the antivirus, including defense modules, updates, etc. This year again, the macOS and in particular iOS versions are still very limited overall compared to those for Android and Windows. Publishers are finally focusing on free and unlimited access to their technical support for their customers.
Why install antivirus ?
Should I install an antivirus ? With the rise and sophistication of cyber threats, it now seems difficult, if not impossible, to protect your endpoints and privacy without the help of security tools. Even seasoned users with high vigilance cannot avoid certain types of sophisticated attacks.
In addition to the fearsome ransomware, zero-day attacks have become commonplace. Particularly difficult to detect, these infect computers with malicious loads by exploiting security holes in unknown websites, software or servers that have not yet been patched. In March 2020 alone, zero-day flaws that could potentially affect thousands of users were discovered on Windows 10, Chrome, or WordPress. These are just a few examples of the countless services and software victims of this type of attack.
Not to mention the multiple variants of malware and other forms of threats that continue to wreak havoc such as phishing, spyware, adware (spyware and adware), trojans, rootkits, malicious applications, or cryptominers.
These pests aim to infect connected machines in order to steal confidential information (bank details, passwords, email addresses…), take control of a remote computer, encrypt personal data in order to demand a ransom from their owner against their return (ransomware), exploit system resources to mine cryptomonaie, etc. Internet users are threatened from all sides ! Although no security software can claim to be foolproof at the moment, most of them significantly minimize risks.
Choosing an antivirus
With the proliferation of built-in OS protection tools, free antivirus software and paid security suites to be renewed each year, making your choice can quickly become a real headache.
First of all, it is important to determine what your needs are based on your level of computer knowledge, the number of devices and OS to protect, your uses and of course your budget. To put in place the best possible protection, it is also necessary to understand the workings, the capabilities, but also the limitations of antivirus.
If you are one of the cautious internet users with a perfect knowledge of good security practices to respect to avoid dangers, a free antivirus such as Microsoft Windows Defender on PC can do the trick. When you’re looking for a more complete solution to protect everyone in the home and their devices, you have two choices : opt for a free security suite like Avast Free Antivirus, or opt for a subscription to a paid edition that needs to be renewed each year such as Norton Security, Bitdefender Antivirus, etc. The first and least simple criterion to consider is the quality of protection offered by a security suite. In this area, it is obviously possible to refer to tests carried out by reference laboratories such as AV-TEST and AV-Comparatives which give a fairly accurate idea of their level of protection.
Even if they are more and more comprehensive overall, not all free and paid security suites are equal. Depending on the needs, it is important to check whether they cover all platforms-Windows, macOS, Android and iOS-and what additional features are included in the offer. Some may focus on the defense of privacy and the web (parental control, banking protection, password manager, webcam protection, safe, VPN…), while others focus instead on advanced settings, system optimization and cleaning tools, advanced firewalls, network and IOT monitoring modules, or backup systems. Only the most complete suites of Bitdefender, F-Secure, Kaspersky, Norton and McAfee combine all of these features.
The various security solutions for the general public are also distinguished by the usability and ease of use of their interface. This year, there are still significant price differences between antivirus licenses and the number of devices covered. Some publishers, such as Symantec, F-Secure, ESET or McAfee, offer their subscribers free, unlimited access to their expert customer support. So many criteria to take into account especially for users with little experience who are looking for complete protection. Note that all publishers offer a 30-day trial to try their products for free.