Today's security suites have a difficult job. Every other day seems to bring a new threat that targets Windows PCs. Spam is going through the roof, as are phishing and other unsavory Web sites. To find out which security suites can best handle the onslaught, we put eight of them through some tough tests under the 32-bit version of Windows Vista.

German security company AV-Test.org tested the antivirus, antispyware, and firewall components of each suite to determine how well the software catches both known malware and new malware (detected either through heuristics--recognition of the new malware's similarity to already-known bad code--or on the basis of its behavior alone). Due to the sophistication of the latest malware, none of the suites did well in the behavioral tests, but several of them did provide excellent protection against a smorgesbord of other baddies. Plus, most suites protect up to three PCs for the purchase price.

BitDefender Internet Security 2008 did the best job at stopping malware, but its interface needs work. Symantec's Norton Internet Security 2008 performed well, too, offering an array of useful features in a polished, easy-to-use package; that combination earned it our Best Buy award. These two suites plus Kaspersky Internet Security 7.0, McAfee Internet Security Suite, and Trend Micro Internet Security 2008 were our top five performers, each of which we review here. All five packages include antiphishing, data-privacy, parental control, and IM traffic protection.

Check outour ranked chart of all eight security suites tested for this article.

Security Suites Tested for This Review
For this roundup, we partnered with AV-Test.org to conduct extensive performance testing on the following security suites:

Symantec Norton Internet Security 2008
Kaspersky Internet Security 7.0
McAfee Internet Security Suite
BitDefender Internet Security 2008
Trend Micro Internet Security 2008
CA Internet Security Suite Plus 2008
Avira Premium Security Suite
Checkpoint ZoneAlarm Internet SecuritySuite 7.1

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