Antivirus vs. Internet Security Software --- Which is right for me?

Computer security is an important concern for everyone. Knowing that there are viruses, hackers, and other potential threats out there, we want to be protected. It can be difficult, however, to know whether we should use a basic antivirus program, or if we need more comprehensive Internet Security software. The information provided here is gathered to help consumers compare antivirus software, so that they can find the right program that will meet their computer security needs.


One key feature of Internet Security software is its inclusion of a firewall within it. Firewall software examines all incoming and outgoing Internet traffic and determines if it is safe or malicious. The firewall program prevents unauthorized access while permitting legitimate communications to pass. In this way a firewall can protect your computer and/or network from hackers and other malicious attacks.

Antivirus software is undoubtedly very important, but a computer without firewall protection can also be at risk to unsavory attacks online. No computer should be considered 'safe' without proper Anti-Virus, Anti-Spyware, AND Firewall software.

Additional Features:

Internet Security software usually includes several features not included in basic Antivirus software. These features vary by program, but often include:
• Firewall
• Anti-Spam
• Anti-Phishing
• Parental Controls
• Other Performance and Miscellaneous Tools
• Usually works on multiple computers (often 3)

When we compare antivirus software, it is important to note the difference in cost between a basic antivirus program and a more comprehensive Internet Security program. The fewer the features the software actually possesses, the less it will probably cost. So, if your security needs are minimal (and you already have a stand-alone firewall program such as Windows Firewall or ZoneAlarm), then basic antivirus protection may be all that you need. Yet, it is important that cost is not made the primary factor in protecting your home computer system or business network. The antivirus program that will best meet your needs may cost more, but it will save you time and money in the end by preventing damage to your computer system and protecting against computer viruses and unauthorized use. Your primary consideration should factor in the actual security needs of your computer or network.

These are just a few of the things that need to be considered as you compare antivirus software. We recommended that you look at each program individually to get a full understanding of all the features that are included and how it may meet your needs.

Article last updated May 28, 2011.

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