There’s a lot of nasty stuff online. Viruses that wreak havoc on your files, spyware that steals your personal info, violent videos that upset the kids, clickbait websites that make you waste your time playing quizzes for hours…
That's why almost all broadband providers offer you some security software when you sign up. But which one will give you the best deal on security? Let's take a look at what they all offer.
When you take out a BT (www.bt.com) broadband package, you might get BT NetProtect Plus with it. It comes free with BT Infinity (except 20GB Infinity 1), Unlimited Broadband Extra, and BT Total Broadband - with any other package it'll cost you £3.70 per month.
BT NetProtect Plus is security software run by McAfee, and includes virus protection, personal firewalls, parental controls, spyware protection, and health and performance tools for your PC or Mac. Only computers, though - it can't cover smartphones or tablets.
All Sky's (www.sky.com) broadband packages come with Sky Broadband Shield. This'll give you network-level protection by blocking sites known to contain malware and phishing, and lets you set up parental controls so the kids can't access stuff you don't want them to. So that's a start, but what about comprehensive security for your devices?
Well, you'll also get a free trial of McAfee Security Centre. This is where you'll find virus control, Wi-Fi protection, anti-phishing, and so on. It can be installed on up to three computers at once, but alas, it's only a 12-month trial. After that, it's £3 a month. Again, you can only put it on three PCs - not much good if you've got a big household, or want to protect your Mac, smartphone, or tablet.
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Web Safe blocks websites at a network level, so they can't be accessed by any device connected to your router. It blocks sites that may contain phishing and malware, and allows you to set up parental controls.
F-Secure SAFE, meanwhile, is security software that you can install on up to five devices - including PCs, Macs, smartphones, and tablets. It'll give you virus protection, identity protection, firewalls, phishing email blocker, and its parental controls are more focused.
For more secure browsing, you can add the SuperSafe Boost - for free on one device, or £2 a month to put it on up to eight devices (including smartphones and tablets). You'll get security software from F-Secure that gives you virus protection, identity protection, more parental controls, and even an anti-theft feature to help you find your phone or tablet if it gets lost.
For virus protection, firewall, anti-spyware, and health and performance software, you'll want Plusnet Protect. It's completely free with the Unlimited and Unlimited Fibre Extra packages, though with Unlimited Fibre you'll only get a three-month trial, after which it's £2 a month. It's created by McAfee and can be installed on up to seven PCs - but only PCs. Any Macs, smartphones, and tablets will remain unprotected.
Alas, you won't get any free security with Fuel Broadband (www.fuelbroadband.co.uk). What youcanget is 30% off a subscription to Norton Security. It's a comprehensive piece of software that you can install on up to five devices - including PCs, Macs, smartphones, and tablets - for a year of protection. It'll protect you from viruses, malware, and spyware, guard your personal info, and help you find a lost phone or tablet.
Or, you can spring for Norton Security Backup, which has a 30% discount too. It's got all the same security features, except you can install it on 10 devices, and use 25GB of online storage to back up your PC.
Well, if you look at cost, the answer to our question here is obvious: Virgin Media is the only provider that gives you free virus protection, on any broadband package, with no time limit. A close contender is TalkTalk - if you only need to secure one computer, of course.
As for the best security… Experts and businesses generally give F-Secure slightly more positive reviews than McAfee, though both are very effective. Norton Security, however, is considered even better at virus protection than either of them.
So it looks like the broadband provider offering the best security is Fuel Broadband - although it isn't free. But then again, the yearly cost with your 30% discount is still cheaper than the yearly cost of BT NetProtect Plus, for instance… and it covers more of your devices.