The Best Malware Protection and Removal Software

How to protect your computer from security breaches

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After a security breach, 37% of small to medium-size businesses “suffered a financial loss, 25% filed for bankruptcy, and 10% went out of business,” according to the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA). A malware attack can prevent your devices from working or slow them down to the point that they’re unusable. Furthermore, a breach may result in stolen data and deleted files, all of which can devastate your business. 

Malware consists of ransomware, spyware, and viruses. Hackers continuously develop new ways to attack vulnerabilities in internet-connected devices, making comprehensive malware protection and removal software crucial. Many solutions protect devices and remove malware, including all-in-one security systems and free malware removers. We compared more than 30 applications by looking at the main features, devices covered, and ease of use. Plus, we scoured customer reviews and the latest independent tests to determine the quality of protection and support services.  

The 6 Best Malware Protection and Removal Software of 2021

The Best Malware Protection and Removal Software
The Best Malware Protection and Removal Software

Best Overall : Norton 360

Norton

Norton

Norton provides a comprehensive security solution with real-time protection using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies.

Pros
  • 24/7 chat and phone support

  • 30-day free trial

  • 100% virus protection promise

Cons
  • Some security offerings are for Windows computers only

  • May notice a drop in computer performance during scanning

For almost 30 years, Norton has offered reliable services that protect and optimize devices. The Norton 360 solution is a cloud-based service containing antispyware and antivirus tools along with malware and ransomware protection. Its reputation, ease of use, and specialty tools give Norton 360 a clear edge over the competition, making it the winner for best overall malware protection and removal software. 

The software works on all devices and operating systems for advanced protection inside and outside of your office. Get your employees’ devices covered by sending an email that gives step-by-step installation instructions.

Norton’s all-in-one solutions offer real-time protection with advanced features like: 

  • Proactive Exploit Protection (PEP) to prevent zero-day attacks
  • Intrusion prevention system (IPS) to detect and act on malicious threats
  • SONAR behavioral protection to identify emerging threats
  • A power eraser to detect and remove high-risk malware and apps
  • Capability to track and map the location of mobile devices
  • Blocking of unauthorized use of webcams and microphones

A convenient web portal helps administrators manage all business devices in one spot, while the password manager reduces password mismanagement. With automatic updates, users always have the latest data at hand.

Each Norton 360 plan protects devices using a broad range of tools, including a smart two-way firewall. Unlike Norton’s personal or family plans, Norton Small Business allows you to add up to 20 devices and monitor each one using a central dashboard. The pricing for the Norton Small Business plan is:

  • Five devices: $99.99 per year
  • Ten devices: $149.99 per year
  • Twenty devices: $249.99 per year

Best for Small Businesses : Avast

Avast

Avast

Avast provides enterprise-level tools and extra features without a hefty price tag.

Pros
  • 30-day free trial

  • Supports policy-based rules for all devices

  • Access data about devices and alerts from any internet-connected device

Cons
  • May block legitimate websites

  • Excessive email alerts unless the feature is turned off

  • No audit log for reporting purposes

Avast gives you real-time malware, virus, and spyware blocking along with other tools to protect your business and sensitive data from harm. Its sleek software won’t slow down your hardware, and bundled tools ensure all aspects of your company are covered. The extra features and lower price point make Avast an affordable option and our top choice for small businesses. 

Protect all devices from cybercrime by sending employees a link to install the malware protection and removal software. 

With Avast small office protection, you get additional support to ensure security, such as:

  • Ransomware shield protects files in designated folders
  • Remote access shield blocks unwanted remote connections, perfect for remote staff
  • Webshield checks URLs and certificates before your network connects
  • Checks all incoming and outgoing emails for malware
  • Uses behavioral monitoring to catch suspicious activity
  • Inspects and fixes Wi-Fi vulnerability
  • A sandbox where you can safely test unknown files or apps without risking your hardware
  • Anti-theft tool for mobile devices
  • Built-in virtual private network (VPN) and advanced firewall
  • Asks your permission before turning on webcams
  • Data shredder to destroy sensitive files

The business management console allows for quick setup with no IT experience required, and updates are automatic. 

Avast uses a tiered pricing model with discounts for multi-year license purchases. The Small Office Protection plan covers up to 10 devices for $111.99 per year, $167.99 for two years, and $235.19 for three years. At renewal, you’ll pay $139.99 for a year.

Best for Multiple Devices : Kaspersky

Kaspersky

Kaspersky

Stay on top of all your company’s devices, mobile phones, file servers, and updates using a convenient web portal and affordable plans for five to 50 devices.

Pros
  • 30-day free trial

  • Intuitive user interface

  • Ransomware rollback feature

Cons
  • Limited iOS support

  • No policy-based management

  • Limited management console functionality

Kaspersky Small Office Security provides core security tools to help you monitor and protect multiple devices. Unlike other malware protection and removal software, Kaspersky lets you put up to 50 office devices and 50 mobile phones on one plan. Its affordability and hardware monitoring tools make Kaspersky the clear winner in our best for multiple devices category. 

Secure your office desktops, devices, and file servers by sending employees an installation email. 

Protect your devices from malware and employee negligence with features like:

  • A built-in software updater gives a list of updates available for applications
  • System watcher detects and blocks malicious activity
  • Filters phishing emails
  • Blocks suspicious sites from browser use and prevents suspicious downloads
  • Provides “do not track” functionality to protect privacy 
  • Searches for and removes unsafe browser extensions
  • Ability to lock stolen devices remotely
  • Ransomware detection and rollback
  • File encryption and backup
  • Built-in vulnerability scanning of business applications

The dedicated web portal is simple, allowing you to view devices or request support, while the password manager helps employees track login information. 

Kaspersky’s Small Office Security plans are unique in that when you pay for five devices, you also get coverage for five cell phones, five password manager accounts, and coverage for one file server. This means for one price you get antimalware software for 10 devices. The pricing is straightforward. Simply use the tool to select the number of devices you need, in increments of five. However, the renewal price is double your initial cost. For example:

  • Five devices: $75 per year for five users ($150 to renew), one file server, five cell phones, and five password managers
  • Twenty-five devices: $300 per year for 25 users ($600 to renew), three servers, 25 mobiles, and 25 password managers
  • Fifty devices: $600 per year for 50 users ($1,200 to renew), five file servers, 50 cell phones, and 50 password managers

Best Value : Bitdefender

Bitdefender

Bitdefender

Bitdefender offers free and paid versions that use behavior-based tools to protect your devices and network from zero-day exploits, malware, and ransomware.

Pros
  • User-friendly interface

  • Free version

  • Customer service solutions include Twitter

Cons
  • Paid business plans are expensive

  • Fewer features for Mac computers

  • VPN limited to 200MB per day

Bitdefender is a trusted name in malware protection and removal and is our choice for best value in malware protection. It uses a unique technology called Photon that adapts to your computer’s configurations to ensure Bitdefender doesn’t slow your system’s speed or performance. Bitdefender’s heavy-duty free version and value-packed paid plans give you total protection at a fantastic value. 

Use your central console to select the types of devices you want to be secured, then send either an email or share an installation link. 

On the free version of Bitdefender, you’ll get incredible features such as:

  • Scans web URLs and blocks phishing attempts
  • Behavioral detection to find suspicious behavior
  • Real-time malware detection, including zero-day exploits
  • Automatic updates

Move up to its Antivirus Plus paid plan for $29.99 per year for three devices or $59.99 for renewals, and you get tons of extra features like:

  • Wi-Fi and network security scanning
  • Multi-layer ransomware protection against cyberattacks
  • Password manager
  • Vulnerability scan and fix tool
  • Bitdefender VPN
  • Anti-tracker browser extension
  • Safepay browser for financial transactions
  • Protection on social networks
  • File shredder
  • Anti-spam for email

The top-tier plan, Total Security, costs $39.98 per year for five devices or $89.99 for renewal. It adds:

  • Privacy firewall
  • Parental controls
  • Webcam and microphone protection
  • Anti-theft tools
  • Protection for Mac, Android, and iOS devices

Bitdefender’s business plans are more expensive but cover your server as well as devices. The Bitdefender GravityZone small business plan costs $77.69 per year for three devices and one server or $110.99 for renewal. This plan offers: 

  • Ability to control and monitor remote users in real-time
  • Endpoint risk management to discover and install software updates or fix misconfigurations
  • Two-way firewall with intrusion detection and prevention
  • Network discovery upon installation to detect devices for a mass remote install of the software

Best for Windows : Malwarebytes

Malwarebytes

 Malwarebytes

Combine your Windows Defender antivirus program with Malwarebytes to get comprehensive protection from its anti-exploit system without slowing down your PC.

Pros
  • Free version

  • 14-day free trial of premium software

  • Fast scanning

Cons
  • May need to adjust settings to ensure Windows Defender and Malwarebytes both run in the background

  • No management console on lower-tier plans

Malwarebytes provides antimalware and anti-exploit software. It’s an excellent companion to Windows Defender, thanks to its speedy software that won’t bog your system down and extra features not found in your built-in antivirus program. Malwarebytes free and paid versions offer advanced protection that’s best for Windows.

You can use Malwarebytes on all devices, but you must manually install the software, as there’s no central console unless you purchase one of two top-tier plans. 

The free version differs from premium configurations by only scanning for potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) and malware on-demand or according to a schedule, like once per day. In contrast, premium versions scan in real-time in the background and also provide anti-ransomware and anti-exploit features. 

With paid versions, you’ll get features such as:

  • Artificial intelligence, heuristic analysis, and machine learning for real-time protection 
  • Blocks phishing scams, infected sites, and malicious links
  • Protects financial documents and financial files from ransomware
  • Scans for PUPs and potentially unwanted modifications (PUMs)
  • Provides exploit protection
  • Checks for rootkits and adware
  • Automatic updates
  • Stops ransomware attacks
  • Safe web browsing extensions

You can download the malware scanner, malware removal, and browser guard for free. But paid personal and business versions are affordable and deliver all-inclusive protection. Malwarebytes plans include:

  • Personal Premium: For one device, $3.33 per month billed annually; $6.67 per month billed yearly for five devices
  • Malwarebytes for Teams: For one to 20 devices, one device costs $49.99 per year; after five devices, it’s $39.99 per device per year
  • Malwarebytes Endpoint Protection: For 10 or more devices, it’s $699.90 per year, which comes out to $69.99 per device
  • Malwarebytes Endpoint Detection and Response: For 10 or more devices, it’s $849.90 per year, which is $84.99 per device

Best for Mac : Webroot

Webroot

 Webroot

Webroot doesn’t interfere with other security systems and protects macOS 10.13 (High Sierra), macOS 10.14 (Mojave), macOS 10.15 (Catalina), and macOS 11 (Big Sur).

Pros
  • 30-day free trial

  • Minimal impact on system performance

  • Good range of reporting options

Cons
  • No business support for mobile devices

  • Manually changing configurations is confusing

  • Admin portal less intuitive than other software apps

Since 2007, Webroot has leveraged machine learning to prevent attacks on computers and servers. The cloud-based Business Endpoint Protection platform works on all operating systems, and you can view every protected device using the Safari browser. Its minimal impact doesn’t interfere with other security programs. Furthermore, many users say Webroot performs well even on older Mac operating systems, making it the best choice for Mac users. 

Deploy your malware protection and removal software by accessing the keycode in your management console and then sending an installation link or email. According to Webroot, it takes 30 seconds to install. 

Webroot’s platform provides behavior-based risk prevention and high-tech security features, including: 

  • Contextual threat intelligence
  • Evasion shield prevents file-based and fileless script attacks
  • System optimizer to speed up devices
  • Anti-phishing tools
  • Real-time blocking against fake websites
  • Rollback technology to unlock infected ransomware files
  • Ransomware blocking
  • Firewall and network connection monitoring

Use the management console to view covered office hardware and perform over 40 commands to secure your devices. Plus, you can automate updates and schedule alerts. 

Webroot Business Endpoint Protection costs $150 for five endpoints and renews at the same price.

Verdict

As high-level attacks continue to make the news, it’s important to remember that small businesses are affected as well. Having your devices disabled or data deleted can force you to stop operations and spend a massive amount of time and money to remove malware. Business security solutions work in the background by observing application behavior and continually scanning for the latest threats. 

Although many good solutions exist for malware protection and removal software, Norton 360 delivers a robust security solution for all devices in and outside of your office, making it great for companies with remote employees as well as on-site staff.

Compare Providers

Best Malware Protection and Removal Software
Provider Why We Picked It Top Features
Norton 360 Best Overall Comprehensive coverage for up to 20 devices per plan
Avast Best for Small Businesses Affordable pricing for enterprise-level tools
Kaspersky Best for Multiple Devices Protect computers, cell phones, and servers with one plan
Bitdefender Best Value Robust free version and low-cost paid plans
Malwarebytes Best for Windows A perfect companion to the built-in Windows Defender antivirus program
Webroot Best for Mac Cloud-based detection and prevention tools don’t weigh down your Mac

FAQs

What Is Antimalware Software?

Antimalware software protects your devices from all kinds of malware, including spyware, rootkits, ransomware, and viruses. It uses various machine learning, heuristic, and artificial intelligence to track your applications and detect suspicious behavior. Antimalware software often provides tools for removal, and in some cases, these tools are very advanced so you can reverse the effects of malware or access files stolen and held for ransom. 

Does Antivirus Remove Malware?

Yes, antivirus software can remove malware. However, antivirus software relies on definitions of virus types to identify and remove malicious actors from your devices. By comparison, some antivirus software has antimalware built-in. Antimalware goes beyond definitions to identify intruders, such as behavioral learning or artificial intelligence. These tools monitor your system by looking for suspicious behavior. This advanced technology is necessary because it can often catch totally new and unknown malware before your antivirus software has a definition for it. 

What Does Antimalware Protection Cost?

Antimalware protection is affordable, and many free plans exist. For paid plans, you can expect to pay anywhere from $15 to $85 per device per year plus tax. It’s essential to check the renewal price because most malware protection and removal software charge a higher renewal fee. Renewal prices can increase your cost by up to 50% after the first year of service. 

If you already use antivirus software, you can look for less expensive security solutions focusing only on malware. Examples of these are free versions of Bitdefender or Malwarebytes. Or you can add a security suite along with your existing antivirus software and use two programs to monitor similar things. 

How Does Antimalware Software Differ From Antivirus Software?

As mentioned above, antimalware catches the latest infections by continuously monitoring your system for suspicious activities, even if it’s a new and unknown threat. On the other hand, antivirus software acts as a protective measure to prevent a virus from being downloaded to your computer. But it doesn’t typically use the high-tech machine learning or behavior-based tools found with antimalware. However, many companies now bundle antivirus and antimalware technologies into one solution. 

How We Chose the Best Malware Protection and Removal Software

We compared 30 different types of free and paid malware protection and removal software programs. To make the list, the software required an easy-to-use interface with simple installation. Furthermore, we reviewed third-party tests and only included software with top scores for malware detection. All tools on our list fit this bill. Next, we looked at the range of features, plans, and pricing, to determine which software was best for certain use cases, such as multiple devices versus Mac functionality. Although we included some software options for personal use, we focused on features crucial to business owners, like dashboard management. Lastly, we reviewed a variety of customer reviews and third-party test results.

Article Sources

Investopedia requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy.
  1. Stay Safe Online. "Small Business Target Survey Data." Accessed December 20, 2020.