Readers’ Choice 2022: Antivirus and Security Software | #itsecurity | #infosec | #education | #technology | #infosec


It’s not hyperbole. We and our devices are under constant attack online by bad actors. Whether they’re doing it for profit, to steal sensitive information, or out of sheer maliciousness, they’re constantly coming up with new ways to get inside our computers, mobile devices, and online accounts. You don’t need to panic, but you do need to be vigilant, casting a wary eye towards emails, text messages, social media posts, and websites that don’t seem quite right.

Operating system security continues to improve, but additional tools are paramount in fending off attacks. In this month’s PCMag Readers’ Choice Award survey, you rated the security software tools you use to protect yourself. You told us there are several great tools and a few that don’t quite measure up. Read on to see what your fellow readers recommend.

Security Suites for Home 2022

Malware threats come in so many different forms that many of us feel best protected with a comprehensive security suite that provides a variety of tools to help keep us safe. For the third straight year, Webroot earns the Readers’ Choice Award, this time getting the highest overall satisfaction rating, with a very impressive 9.3 on a scale from 0 (extremely dissatisfied) to 10 (extremely satisfied). Malwarebytes (9.2), Kaspersky (9.1), and Bitdefender (9.1) also received overall satisfaction ratings above 9.0.

Webroot had the best satisfaction ratings on all but one measure for which it received enough responses, with its top rating coming for its antivirus and malware protection (9.5). The company received ratings of 9.4 on several other key measures, including ease of use, setup, reliability, performance (which relates to the performance of the computer on which the security software is installed), phishing protection, and overall trustworthiness.

Webroot’s lowest rating was for satisfaction with cost (8.7), but this number is an excellent result; cost-related satisfaction questions tend not to get rated as high as other questions. Kaspersky and Bitdefender also received satisfaction with cost ratings of 8.7. Norton (7.4) and McAfee (7.9) had the lowest ratings on this measure.

Interestingly, the one question on which Webroot didn’t have the top rating was the likelihood to recommend. Don’t get us wrong, the company’s rating of 9.2 is not shabby in the least, but Malwarebytes had a slightly higher rating at 9.4. Malwarebytes also tied Webroot’s rating for satisfaction with setup (9.4) and reliability (9.4).

For more, read the Best Security Suites for 2022.

Antivirus for Home 2022

You might choose a dedicated antivirus program—one without the bells and whistles to fight spam, ransomware, and more—because you want to personally build a security suite from the tools you prefer rather than getting them all from the same company. Or perhaps, you feel that antivirus is all you need to augment your operating system’s built-in protections. Regardless of the reason, if you’re looking to purchase standalone antivirus, PCMag readers give their highest recommendation to Malwarebytes, which once again wins our Readers’ Choice Award, just as it’s done every year since 2020.

Since most readers opt for full security suite protection, only three companies received enough responses to be included in our analysis. Malwarebytes received the top marks for overall satisfaction (8.8) and likelihood to recommend (8.9), two key measures. The company also had the highest ratings for satisfaction with reliability (9.0) and trustworthiness (8.8).

Malwarebytes also received excellent ratings on other measures, including setup (9.2), ease of use (9.1), and performance (8.9), but it was topped on these by Microsoft’s free Windows security tools. However, readers don’t have the same level of trust in Microsoft, rating the company only 8.4 in trustworthiness, which is almost certainly a contributing factor to its lower likelihood to recommend rating (8.3).

For more, read The Best Antivirus Protection for 2022.

Mobile Security Apps 2022

It’s been ingrained in many of us to protect our PCs from malware and other attacks, but what about mobile devices? When you consider all the sensitive information that you store or access from your smartphones and tablets, you start to realize how important it is that they are not vulnerable to attack. We asked our survey respondents to tell us about the tools they use to protect Android devices, plus Apple iPhones and iPads.

Security tools for Android were much more popular among survey respondents than those that protect Apple devices. Six companies received enough responses for their Android apps to be considered in our analysis. Bitdefender received the top ratings on every satisfaction measure, just as it did last year, and it once again wins our Readers’ Choice Award. Impressively, all of Bitdefender’s ratings were above 9.0 except for satisfaction with tech support, which is a measure that tends not to get high ratings, and its score here of 8.6, while down from last year’s 8.9, is still very good. On all other measures, Bitdefender’s ratings are at least as good as they were last year.

For more, read The Best Android Antivirus Apps for 2022.

Just as in 2021, McAfee and NortonLifeLock were the only companies whose products had enough respondents claiming to use their software on iPhones and iPads. Last year, Norton received our Readers’ Choice Award, but this year, McAfee has turned the tables, taking the top spot. McAfee edged out Norton in overall satisfaction, improving from 7.8 in 2021 to 8.2 this year, just ahead of Norton’s 8.1.

The two companies’ ratings were within 0.1 of each other on every measure except satisfaction with cost, where McAfee’s 8.3 was half a point ahead of Norton. McAfee edged out Norton on likelihood to recommend (8.1 to 8.0) and satisfaction with performance (8.4 to 8.3). Norton was slightly ahead in satisfaction with ease of use (8.6 to 8.5). On this measure, both companies’ ratings were improved a bit from their ratings last year. Neither gets much of a recommendation from users to others.

Full Results

The PCMag Readers’ Choice survey for Antivirus and Security Software was in the field from November 29 to December 20, 2021. For more information on how our surveys are conducted, read the survey methodology.

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