Internet security programs may sound like a “nice” thing to have, but they’re more like a critical tool to keep your data and your network safe.
If you still think of a comprehensive internet security suite as a useful add-on to your antivirus software—or decided that you don’t need either one—you are putting your computer’s health and your identity at risk.
Why You Need An Internet Security Program
It’s important to understand the difference between an antivirus program and an internet security package. An antivirus solution typically scans for viruses and malware. While it is great for finding infections that have already made it onto your machine, it will typically not:
- Provide advanced firewall management to monitor inbound and outbound web traffic feeds. Automatically prevent sending your sensitive information to cybercriminals through leaks in your networks.
- Monitor all accessed URLs to make sure that they are not known phishing websites, and warn about or block those websites if they are on the list.
Also, bear in mind that:
- Advanced system optimization tools, like junk cleaners and disk defragmentation tools, are not typically included in antivirus tools but often feature in internet security packages.
- Internet security suites will generally attempt to provide protection against a wider variety of threat types than antiviruses, including spyware, ransomware, rootkits, and anti-spam programs.
- If you’re a desktop e-mail client user, these tools will typically contain some mainstream email client integrations that allow you to safely scan inbound and outbound messages at the touch of a button. Advanced features such as mail gateways make it safe to download attachments from unknown senders since the files are scanned in a secure environment and only released once they have been found to be safe.
- Internet security suites often have better zero-day malware protection abilities. Zero-day threats haven’t been observed before, so traditional virus definition methods aren’t enough to stop them. Instead, sophisticated algorithms monitor the behavior of programs and lock them down as soon as suspicious patterns are noticed.
- Parental control is often included in internet security programs but is rarely seen in stand-alone antivirus software.
- Some other features that internet security programs typically include are keylogger detectors, password storage vaults, and virtual keyboards (so that when you use online banking websites, your login information isn’t even retrievable from your keystrokes). They can also monitor when media devices such as microphones and webcams are connected and streaming and prevent outsiders from accessing them.
- Applications to assess the security of wifi connection points are usually only found in internet security packages. Sometimes, internet security packages also contain VPNs with limited connection bandwidth. Again, this is something only rarely seen in regular antivirus products.
Years ago, viruses tended to be distributed as simple macros that targeted common applications like word processors; they spread via email to other users as corrupted attachments. Today, the threat landscape has significantly widened, and users need protection from spyware, ransomware, and zero-day malware.
What Are Some Good Options?
Now that you know an internet security suite is necessary, it’s important to make a good choice. My top two recommendations are:
Norton: Norton has excellent malware detection and a good reputation for identifying phishing scams, trojans, and malicious downloads. The firewall component can conduct an automatic vulnerability scan so that you can see any potential problems.
McAfee: McAfee’s internet security features include browser extensions for every major browser which will automatically flag any suspicious URLs. McAfee Home Network Security gives users WiFi security and a powerful firewall and leverages the power of cloud-based threat analysis to keep a lookout for emerging threats.
Get The Winning Combination
Unless you never browse the internet (and if you’re reading this, I’m guessing that you do), you need to be running both an antivirus program and an internet security suite. Choose a strong solution to give your computer the protection it needs.