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The best internet security suites in 2021

best internet security suites
(Image credit: Chinnapong/Shutterstock)

If you've got a houseful of PCs, Macs, iPhones or Android phones, one of the best internet security suites will protect all your devices from malware, phishing scams and malicious websites.

Many of these premium software packages include features you'd normally buy separately, such as password managers, virtual private network (VPN) services, cloud-backup software and identity-theft-protection services. 

Most also come with parental controls to help monitor your kids' online behavior, and some even offer webcam protections and two-way firewalls. They're the Swiss Army knives of consumer security.

Best internet security suites news and alerts

— A new website-based attack on Windows takes over PCs, even those running Windows 11.

Adobe patched serious security flaws in Photoshop, Acrobat Reader, Premiere Elements and other applications.

— HP fixed a serious flaw that affected OMEN gaming desktop and laptop PCs.

But be prepared to pay a lot, because the best internet security suites aren't cheap. Their annual subscription rates can range from $130 to $350. The upside is that they let you cover 10 machines at once, so the per-device cost spreads out well.

Exceptions to that rule are Kaspersky's affordable five-device plan and ESET's per-device pricing. But when you factor in how many features each of the best internet security suites has and how much you'd pay to get those features on your own, you'll often come out ahead.

The best internet security suites you can get

Best internet security suites: NortonEditor's Choice

(Image credit: Norton)

1. Norton 360 with LifeLock Ultimate Plus

Everything but the kitchen sink, at a premium price

Specifications
Anti-theft: No
Backup software: Yes
Firewall: Yes
Game mode: Yes
Hardened browser: No
Parental controls: Yes
Password manager: Yes
Ransomware rollback: No
Webcam protection: Yes
VPN: Unlimited
Reasons to buy
+Excellent malware protection+Huge number of extra features+LifeLock identity protection
Reasons to avoid
-Heavy slowdown during full scans-Parental controls, cloud storage don't work on Macs

Norton 360 with LifeLock Ultimate Plus throws in just about every security feature you'd need, including many that we normally review as stand-alone services. 

Unlimited password manager? Check. Unlimited VPN? Yup. Parental controls, cloud backup, top-notch identity-theft protection? All there. 

Norton 360 with LifeLock Ultimate Plus also has excellent protections against malware, its own firewall, dedicated webcam protection and can be installed on an unlimited number of devices. 

So what's the catch? The parental controls, which are otherwise excellent, don't work on Macs. Neither does the cloud-backup service, and if you have more than one PC, you might fill up its 500GB of backup storage after a year or two. 

Then there's the sticker shock. Norton 360 with LifeLock Ultimate Plus costs $350 annually after the first year, far more than any other premium antivirus suite. 

Yet buying the equivalents of all of Norton's features and services from other companies would cost at least $550 a year. If you really need and can afford all those extras, then Norton 360 with LifeLock Ultimate Plus is a no-brainer.

Read our full Norton 360 with LifeLock Ultimate Plus review.

Best internet security suites: Bitdefender

(Image credit: Bitdefender)

2. Bitdefender Premium Security

Unlimited VPN, but no identity-theft protection

Specifications
Anti-theft: Yes
Backup software: No
Firewall: Yes
Game mode: Yes
Hardened browser: Yes
Parental controls: Yes
Password manager: Yes
Ransomware rollback: Yes
Webcam protection: Yes
VPN: Unlimited
Reasons to buy
+Very good malware protection+Lots of useful extra features+Easy-to-use interface
Reasons to avoid
-Heavy background system impact-Password manager only for Windows

What if you don't want or need identity-theft protection or cloud-backup software, but still need an unlimited VPN? Bitdefender Premium Security, which costs $150 yearly for up to 10 devices, might be the answer. 

Premium Security combines Bitdefender's very good malware detection and easy-to-use interface with a huge assortment of extra features. These include a few that Norton doesn't have, such as ransomware rollbacks, a super-secure web browser for online banking, anti-theft software for laptops and a file shredder. 

Bitdefender Premium Security also has parental controls for all four major platforms, but its unlimited password manager and dedicated webcam and microphone protections work only on Windows.

Read our full Bitdefender Premium Security review.

Best internet security suites: Kaspersky Total Security 2020 Box Art

(Image credit: Kaspersky)

3. Kaspersky Total Security

Limited VPN, but excellent protection at a fair price

Specifications
Anti-theft: Yes
Backup software: Yes
Firewall: Yes
Game mode: Yes
Hardened browser: Yes
Parental controls: Yes
Password manager: Yes
Ransomware rollback: Yes
Webcam protection: Yes
VPN: Limited upsell
Reasons to buy
+Unbeaten malware protection+Stalkerware protection+Password manager, parental controls
Reasons to avoid
-Limited VPN usage-Microphone protection hard to enable

If you can live without an unlimited VPN, then your best bet might be Kaspersky Total Security, which covers 5 devices for $100 per year or 10 devices for $150 per year. 

Kaspersky has the best record on beating malware in third-party lab tests, hands-down. Its password manager works across all four major platforms, and its parental controls (also fully cross-platform) are second only to Norton's. 

Like Bitdefender, Kaspersky offers anti-theft features for laptops, ransomware rollbacks and a secure browser mode for online banking, but Kaspersky's browser works on Macs as well as on Windows. It also offers file encryption and unique protection against "stalkerware" used by jealous partners. 

However, while Kaspersky offers backup software, like Norton, it doesn't provide online storage for those backups, but instead sends you to your own Dropbox account.

The VPN service comes with only 300MB of service per day, but its unlimited VPN service costs just $30 per year, a fraction of what many stand-alone VPNs cost. If you've got five or fewer devices to protect, you can get both Kaspersky Total Security and Kaspersky's unlimited VPN for $105 annually, less than the cost of Bitdefender Premium Security.

Read our full Kaspersky Total Security review.

Best internet security suites: Mcafee

(Image credit: McAfee)

4. McAfee Total Protection Ultimate

Most of what you get with Norton for less

Specifications
Anti-theft: No
Backup software: No
Firewall: Yes
Game mode: Yes
Hardened browser: No
Parental controls: Yes
Password manager: Yes
Ransomware rollback: Yes
Webcam protection: No
VPN: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Protects at least 10 devices+Password manager, unlimited VPN, identity-theft protection+Very good malware protection
Reasons to avoid
-Heavy performance hit during scans-VPN, parental controls don't work on Mac

Norton isn't the only antivirus maker with an identity-theft-protection service. McAfee Total Protection Ultimate includes similar coverage for $160 per year, less than half of what Norton costs. 

You'll get the benefits of McAfee's Identity Theft Protection Plus plan, which costs $175 per year as a stand-alone and includes credit monitoring and up to $1 million in insurance coverage. 

The package also includes McAfee's protection against malware, the True Key password manager, Safe Kids parental controls, file encryption, file shredding, a firewall and unlimited VPN service for up to five devices. Like many McAfee antivirus subscriptions, Total Protection Ultimate nominally protects up to 10 devices but in practice is unlimited.

The downsides are that neither the VPN nor the parental controls work on Macs, and that there's no webcam protection, hardened browser or backup software. But if you want all-encompassing protection at a bargain rate, you could do a lot worse than McAfee.

Read our full McAfee Total Protection Ultimate review.

Best internet security suites: Trend Micro

(Image credit: Trend Micro)

5. Trend Micro Premium Security

A reasonable alternate

Specifications
Backup software: No
Firewall: No
Game mode: Yes
Hardened browser: Yes
Parental controls: Yes
Password manager: Yes
Webcam protection: No
Virtual keyboard: No
VPN: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Very good malware protection+Secure browser, password manager+Dark Web scans
Reasons to avoid
-Heavy performance hit during scans-Many false positives on some tests

Like McAfee Total Protection Premium, Trend Micro Premium Security ($130 per year for up to 10 devices) does without backup software or cloud storage, but it includes a password manager, unlimited VPN service and parental controls, all of which work on Mac, PC, Android and iOS. 

There's also what Trend Micro calls "ID Protection," which actually just monitors the dark web for your data and can be accessed only through mobile apps.

On the antivirus side, Trend Micro does very well in lab tests of malware detection and also provides ransomware rollbacks, a file shredder, file encryption and a system optimizer. Trend Micro's malware engine has a remarkably small impact on Windows system performance when running in the background, but can eat up a fair amount of resources during full scans. 

Read our full Trend Micro Premium Security review.

Best internet security suites: ESET Smart Security Premium

(Image credit: ESET)

6. ESET Smart Security Premium

Few extra features, but excellent otherwise

Specifications
Anti-theft: Yes
Backup software: No
Firewall: Yes
Game mode: Yes
Hardened browser: Yes
Parental controls: Yes
Password manager: Yes
Ransomware rollback: No
Webcam protection: Yes
Virtual keyboard: No
VPN: No
Reasons to buy
+Very good protection+Remarkably little system-performance impact+File encryption, hardened browser, webcam protection
Reasons to avoid
-Not many extra features

ESET is one of the biggest names in antivirus protection in Europe, and while its top-end Smart Security Premium suite doesn't pack in VPN service, backup software or identity protection, it's still remarkably light, fast and efficient. 

ESET Smart Security Premium does have a password manager, parental controls, anti-theft protections for laptops, dedicated webcam protection, a dedicated secure browser and even home-network-management software. 

It even includes bare-bones antivirus software for Linux machines, and its Windows malware-detection engine does very well in lab tests. The only downside is that the parental controls don't work on iOS.

One bonus: With ESET, you don't pay more than you have to. Most antivirus brands tier premium subscriptions at five, 10 and sometimes 15 devices. ESET bucks the trend, starting at $60 per year for one device and adding $10 for each additional device. 

So if you've got just four devices to protect, you'd pay $90 per year with ESET Smart Security Premium while most other brands on this page would charge you much more.

Read our full ESET Smart Security Premium review.

How to choose the best internet security suite for you

So do you really need all these extra features with your antivirus software? Well, it's hard to argue against using a password manager. Beyond that, you have to consider your personal circumstances. 

If you've got young kids or teenagers at home, then you might want parental-control software to keep tracking of what your children are doing online or to track the physical location of their phones. 

If you're a person of means, then investing in identity-theft protection might be wise. If you travel a lot, you'll want to use a VPN while in hotel rooms and airport lounges. 

To get a better idea of the stand-alone services these premium security suites compete with, visit our buying guides for the best identity theft protection, best cloud backup services, best parental-control apps and best password managers

Internet security suites may seem expensive, but they're still far cheaper than purchasing all those extra services à la carte. You just have to decide which ones you really need. 

Paul Wagenseil

Paul Wagenseil is a senior editor at Tom's Guide focused on security and privacy. He has also been a dishwasher, fry cook, long-haul driver, code monkey and video editor. He's been rooting around in the information-security space for more than 15 years at FoxNews.com, SecurityNewsDaily, TechNewsDaily and Tom's Guide, has presented talks at the ShmooCon, DerbyCon and BSides Las Vegas hacker conferences, shown up in random TV news spots and even moderated a panel discussion at the CEDIA home-technology conference. You can follow his rants on Twitter at @snd_wagenseil.