Keep yourself protected with our list of the best security suites

A neon blue digital padlock against a black background
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The malware threat is more insidious than ever. If you’re not properly protected, you may not know you’ve been hit until dodgy-looking transactions start appearing on your online shopping accounts, or an alert pops up warning that your files have been encrypted. Simply being careful online is no longer good enough – not that it ever was.

Fortunately, as we all know, security software isn’t something you necessarily need to spend money on. A decent degree of protection is built right into Windows 10, and there are copious providers promising to keep you safe for free.

With so much at stake, though, the question is whether opting for a free suite is a false economy – especially when some paid-for suites can be had for almost nugatory sums. Alongside the free options this month, we test a whole spread of commercial security software at prices ranging from just £7 up to £50 per annum.

So if you’ve been wondering whether it’s worth paying a premium for high-end protection, or whether you’re just as well off with a cheap or free solution, you’ll find the answer on the following pages. Read on to discover which products will keep you safe on a tight budget, and which struggle to justify their price tags.

Darien Graham-Smith

Darien began his IT career in the 1990s as a systems engineer, later becoming an IT project manager. His formative experiences included upgrading a major multinational from token-ring networking to Ethernet, and migrating a travelling sales force from Windows 3.1 to Windows 95.

He subsequently spent some years acting as a one-man IT department for a small publishing company, before moving into journalism himself. He is now a regular contributor to IT Pro, specialising in networking and security, and serves as associate editor of PC Pro magazine with particular responsibility for business reviews and features.

You can email Darien at, or follow him on Twitter at @dariengs.