Computer security is big business these days and can only get bigger, as more and more devices are connected to the internet and more threats are surfacing on the web. As such, antivirus software is invariably getting better each year. However, some products are better than others, some are pricier than others and some are simply not worth spending a dime. We have tested and analyzed in detail 15 different security products for Windows, all promising to offer you the best protection for your Windows devices. However, only a few of them are great products and only one of them is the best product of the year. Here's our first edition of the Digital Citizen Awards for the best security product of the year:
Digital Citizen - Reader's Choice 2016
Before we move to share which we consider the best security product of the year, here's what our readers have chosen as their favorite Windows security product of the year. In our public voting campaign, 60.9% of the votes that were cast have chosen Bitdefender Total Security 2016 as their favorite.
As you can see in the chart above: our reader's top choice was Bitdefender, followed by Kaspersky and ESET. Congratulations to all three manufacturers for developing security products that are both effective and popular.
Now that our readers have chosen their top security product for Windows, let's talk about what we think, as an editorial team:
The worst security products of 2016
First, we would like to start by letting you know which security products you should avoid. All of them have received a rating of 1 or 2 out of a maximum of 5. When it comes to the worst security products of the year, the list includes some high-profile names in the security market. This proves once again that being famous doesn't necessarily mean that you are great at what you do:
15. Comodo Internet Security Complete 8 is a rather strange security product. It includes a good antivirus engine and a good firewall module but it doesn't protect you against online threats and, as revealed by Google, some of the "security" tools it bundles pose a security risk to their users. If there's one thing you should avoid it's a security product that represents a security risk for you.
14. Avast Premier! 2016 has an elegant user interface and a good firewall module. However, our tests have shown that the effectiveness of antivirus engine is below average.
13. McAfee LiveSafe 2016 is a very light security product compared to the system resources that it requires in order to run. It has a decent firewall and a rather poor antivirus engine.
12. Panda Global Protection 2016 offers a good but slow antivirus engine and a good firewall module. However, this product is cumbersome to use and requires you to pay attention to what you do, especially because it also tries to monetize its clients by using shady tools that should not be included in a security suite.
11. VIPRE Internet Security Pro 2016 has a decent but slow antivirus engine, an average firewall that you'll configure manually in order to get good protection against network attacks and a user interface that could use the help of a good designer.
Your average security products of 2016
Next, let's take a look at your average security products which are not a security risk like some of the products we mentioned earlier and also do a decent job in securing your computer, without excelling. This list includes quite a few surprising names, including products you might not have heard about. All of the have received a rating of 3 stars out of 5:
10. Avira Internet Security Suite 2016 provides you with a surprisingly good antivirus engine. Avira's main flaws are its dated user interface and the fact that many of the extra tools that it bundles don't provide much in terms of value to users. Many of them are just copies of tools offered by Windows. It's also noteworthy that Avira Internet Security Suite 2016 does not include any Parental Controls.
9. AVG Internet Security 2016 is more than capable of protecting you against malware threats, as well as against network attacks. However, AVG's security products take a toll on computer performance and AVG uses some uninspired practices for monetizing their users.
8. Emsisoft Internet Security 11 is a solid security product that offers a good antivirus engine and a good firewall module. However, Emsisoft's top security suite doesn't bundle any additional security tools that could provide more value to its users. It just sticks to the basics and some users will appreciate that.
7. F-Secure SAFE Internet Security has a good antivirus engine that you can steer from a very simple user interface. It's a good choice for users who don't want to fiddle with advanced settings. Experts though will want a security product which offers more advanced settings and configuration options.
6. Norton Security Premium 2016 has a very good anti-malware module and a very good user interface. Although it has many strong points, Norton doesn't manage to efficiently protect you while online and that's why it didn't make it to our list of top antivirus products.
Digital Citizen - The best security product of 2016
Time has come to share the best security products which provide very efficient protection, good user interface design and useful extra tools that increase the security of your Windows devices. They all have received a rating of 4 out of 5. Why not a rating of 5? Well, there's no such thing as the perfect security software. While they do have many strengths when compared to the other products we reviewed earlier, they also have some minor shortcomings. Read on to learn which security products we consider the best of 2016:
5. Trend Micro Maximum Security 2016 is the best security product you could buy for your Grandma or any other user with little in terms technical knowledge. It's very simple to use due to its user interface design that any beginner can relate to. But it's not just that: it's also a product with a very efficient antivirus engine that can protect its users against any kind of malware. The downside of this product is that technical users have very little in the way advanced customization and they will prefer the other products in this list.
4. BullGuard Premium Protection 2016 is another robust security product that is more than capable of protecting you against all kinds of cyber threats. It looks good, it works well and it has a very affordable price tag.
3. ESET Smart Security 9 continues its tradition of offering a great antivirus engine and a very good firewall module. It is one of the best security products on the market, but its flaw is that it has a higher impact on your computer's performance than our top-two products.
2. Kaspersky Total Security 2016 is one of the best security suites we've seen, packing very efficient antimalware protection that's able to detect and clean even the nastiest malware infections. The only reason why this product is not in first place is its high price tag when compared to the other products in this list.
1. Bitdefender Total Security 2016 offers one of the best and fastest antivirus engines in the world, as well as a top of the line firewall module and a whole range of useful additional tools.
On top of that, it offers a very well designed user interface and a reasonable price. In our view, Bitdefender Total Security 2016 is the best security product of the year and we highly recommend it to all Windows users. Congratulations to Bitdefender for winning both the public vote as well as the vote of our editorial team.
NOTE: If you are curious to see the criteria that we used when making our classification, please read this article: Comparison: What is the best antivirus software for Windows devices?. Also, if you would like to know more about how we evaluate each security product individually, read this article: Security for everyone - How we review security products.
We would like to congratulate the companies that develop the security suites in our top-five security products of the year. We would also like to thank all the users that have participated in our public voting campaign and share their opinion regarding the best security product of the year. We will resume this campaign in 2017 and evaluate next year's best security products for Windows. Until then… keep reading us!