The Best Internet Security Suites of 2012-2013

We started reviewing the 2012-2013 lineup of security products in the autumn of 2012. Today we are done with our reviews and we would like to share the final results of our testing. Which security suites are very good and worth buying? The answer is: incredibly few!

Before you read our recommendations, don’t hesitate to learn more about how we test each product and what each verdict means. Complete information can be found in this article: Security for Everyone - How We Evaluate the Products Reviewed.

Buy for Everyone!

In our testing we tried to identify products that are easy to use, very good at protecting your computer and that offer advanced customisation options to those who need them. Unfortunately, our ultimate recommendation has been given to only three products:

  • Bitdefender Internet Security 2013 - Bitdefender is one of the very few companies that brought a large number of new features to their line-up of security products. As always, with high risks comes high reward: it should not surprise anybody that Bitdefender tops most security charts, including our own.
  • ESET Smart Security 6 - ESET have upgraded their security products and it shows. This security suite not only looks good but it is also easy to use, light on performance and effective in securing your system.
  • Kaspersky Internet Security 2013 - Kaspersky was a bit conservative this year. They focused on improving their 2012 version of products and did not include any revolutionary new features. However, this doesn’t mean their internet security suite is not a top notch product. On the contrary! They still offer a great product to their customers.

Buy for Geeks!

These security suites are either aimed at knowledgeable users or they have some shortcomings that can be compensated or fixed only by knowledgeable users. The security suites we recommend for "geeks only" are the following:

  • avast! Internet Security 8 - avast! is a rather unbalanced product: it is very friendly to use, it offers everything you need in terms of advanced configuration and it uses very little memory to function. Also, its antimalware engine is effective in detecting and removing threats. However, the firewall protection being provided is average and the suite’s effectiveness in securing the system is hindered by its default configuration. In order to receive a good level of protection, users need to do quite a bit of additional configuration, take plenty of decisions and compensate for the shortcomings of this suite.
  • BullGuard Internet Security 2013 - BullGuard offers a very friendly product that's also very effective. However, its default configuration is lacking in certain aspects and users need to do some manual configuration, before the maximum protection level is offered by the suite.
  • Comodo Internet Security Pro 2013 - Comodo has always created security solutions that offer very detailed configuration options, that please advanced users. This remains true for their 2013 edition of products. Even though some improvements have been made in terms of usability and performance, Comodo's main target remains geeks and advanced users who know how to configure the suite in detail and get the best security possible out of it.

Test First!

Our verdict of "Test First!" is given to products which have important shortcomings that do not allow us to recommended them wholeheartedly. It is best that you use the trial version for a couple of days, prior to purchasing these products, to make sure you are OK with the way they work:

  • Avira Internet Security 2013 - Avira is able to provide effective security but it is not very friendly to use. Its user interface uses old paradigms, the processes involved for configuring it or dealing with malware need improvements in order be easy to use and faster than they are today. We recommend that you first test this suite before purchasing it, to understand if you are OK with its user interface and the way it works.
  • Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security 2013 - Trend Micro continues to provide a product that is targeted at novices that want an "install and forget" kind of product. The suite is very easy to use, fast and light on system resources. However, when it detects malware on your computer, it has the tendency to eat all of your system’s resources until the removal is performed. Also, it does a poor job at protecting some if its services from unauthorized termination. You should read our review for more details and test it for a while before purchasing it.

Stay Away!

This verdict is pretty self-explanatory and it is awarded to products which fail to provide effective protection to their users:

  • AVG Internet Security 2013 - AVG offers a product with many shortcomings: weak firewall protection, weak malware protection when browsing the web and a very poor integration with Windows 8.
  • F-Secure Internet Security 2013 - F-Secure has further simplified their product. It includes fewer modules than other security suites, it is easier to use but it also doesn't provide much in terms of control and configuration options. Also, because it doesn't protect its services from termination, it can be easily disabled by nasty viruses. This hinders its effectiveness when dealing with malware infections.
  • McAfee Internet Security 2013 - McAfee is a contradictory product: its interface is not easy to use, especially for beginners. However, it does not provide many advanced customization options that would appeal to knowledgeable users. Therefore it ends up pleasing nobody. Also, it has quite a few bugs and provides little in terms of protection while browsing the web. Some of its protection services (like the firewall) can be terminated with ease. It simply has too many problems that don't allow us to recommend it to our readers.
  • Norton Internet Security 2013 - Norton managed to surprise us this year in a negative way. We identified quite a few issues with their internet security suite: weak malware protection, a firewall that needs too much manual configuration in order to work as required by the user, many of its bundled products cost extra while others, like Norton Online Family, don’t work too well.
  • Panda Internet Security 2013 - Panda is a dated product which has updated only its main interface in this new version. Old problems and shortcomings have not been fixed for years and the additional products it bundles add no value to the security of your system. Some of them are dodgy and should be avoided.
  • ZoneAlarm Internet Security Suite 2013 / v11 - First of all, ZoneAlarm offers no integration with other web browsers except Internet Explorer. This is a major flaw in today’s world, where people use many different browsers. Also, its malware protection is weak. It was easy for us to infect our test system and difficult to remove malware infections when using this suite.

Conclusion

This year’s testing session was eye-opening for us. We learned a lot about what it means to deliver good security to your users and how few vendors can pull this off. As a result, we plan to write a couple of articles that we are sure you will find interesting and worth sharing. So... stay tuned for more.