Which broadband provider has the best security?

Cyber thief

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.

BT

When you take out any BT (www.bt.com) broadband package, BT Web Protect for free. It'll give you warnings when a website is dodgy, and applies to any device connected to your home network.

You can also get BT Virus Protect. It's £4 a month, but your first month is free if you've got Broadband, Superfast Fibre, or BT Superfast Fibre Essential. This is a more robust security software run by McAfee, and includes virus protection, personal firewalls, spyware protection, and health and performance tools for your PC, Mac, smartphone, or tablet. You can install it on two devices if you have Unlimited Broadband or Infinity 1, or up to 15 with Infinity 2.

Sky

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. And 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.

Best buy deals
  • Broadband + weekend calls
    £40 BT Reward Card - see BT's website for further details
    • Online Exclusive
    • Average speed* 10Mbps
    • £19.99 up-front costs
    • Weekend calls inc.
    • Offer ends
    • £24.99 per month
    18 month contract
  • Broadband Unlimited
    £100 Prepaid MasterCard®
    • Average speed* 11Mbps
    • £9.95 up-front costs
    • Pay as you go phone
    • Offer ends
    • £18.00 per month
    12 month contract
  • Unlimited Broadband
    £50 Plusnet Reward Card
    • Online Exclusive
    • Average speed* 10Mbps
    • Pay as you go phone
    • Offer ends
    • £19.99 per month
    18 month contract
  • Unlimited Broadband + Weekend Calls
    Unlimited Broadband
    • Online Exclusive
    • Average speed* 11Mbps
    • Weekend calls inc.
    • Offer ends
    • £17.00 per month
    12 month contract
  • Unlimited Broadband
    5GB data boost!
    • Average speed* 10Mbps
    • £10.00 up-front costs
    • Pay as you go phone
    • £20.00 per month
    18 month contract
  • Fast Broadband
    No Price Rises!
    • Average speed* 11Mbps
    • £9.95 up-front costs
    • Pay as you go calls
    • £17.95 per month
    12 month contract

*Average speeds are based on the download speeds of at least 50% of customers at peak time (8pm to 10pm). Speed can be affected by a range of technical and environmental factors. The speed you receive where you live may be lower than that listed above. You can check the estimated speed to your property prior to purchasing.

Virgin Media

Every single Virgin Media (www.virginmedia.com) broadband connection comes with two things: Web Safe, and F-Secure SAFE.

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. You'll get a 12-month free trial that you can install on up to five devices, and once the year's over, you can keep your protection going for a heavily discounted price.

TalkTalk

All TalkTalk (www.talktalk.co.uk) broadband packages come with HomeSafe, which offers parental controls and blocks devices on your network from accessing websites that contain malware.

For a bit more security, you can add the SuperSafe Boost for £2 a month to put it on up to eight devices (including smartphones and tablets). This'll give you 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.

Plusnet

Plusnet SafeGuard is included with all of Plusnet's (www.plus.net) broadband packages. It blocks sites that contain dodgy malware, as well as ones you don't want the kids to see.

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 it's £2 a month. It's created by McAfee and can be installed on up to eight computers, smartphones, or tablets.

Cyber thief

Conclusion

Well, if you look at cost, the answer to our question here is obvious: Virgin Media and Sky are the only providers that gives you free virus protection, on any broadband package - even if it's limited to a 12-month trial.

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, we'll give the crown to Virgin Media here, for its inclusion of free F-Secure software - but for the most secure connection possible, you may want to splash out on Norton.

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