7 all-in-one security suites: Anti-malware for all your devices

Let's face it: No matter what device you use, you're in danger. Security threats and malware lurk on Windows PCs, Macs, and Android and iOS devices. If you use more than one device -- like most of us do -- that makes it even more difficult and expensive to be vigilant and keep yourself safe

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The interfaces for both are simple and straightforward, although the file protection can be awkward to use. Rather than browsing through your files and folders, and marking those you want to protect, you have to manually add them to the McAfee vault, and then delete them from their original locations. Even worse is that new videos and photos aren't automatically added to your vault if you use the iPhone's camera app or another camera app. Instead, you need to first go to the vault, and then take a photo or video from there.


McAfee's Android app offers comprehensive protection. In addition to guarding against malware, it locates, locks and wipes lost or stolen devices; checks apps to see whether they invade your privacy; and lets you block unwanted phone calls and text messages.

It's straightforward and simple to use. The left-hand side of the screen provides navigation for the actions you can take (such as find a device or do a security scan) and the right-hand side lets you perform the actions and shows you their results.

Noteworthy is the privacy scanner, which checks apps for potential privacy invasions. Other Android apps do that, but where McAfee stands out is providing two other privacy control features: locking apps so that only certain people can use them and creating profiles to hide or display apps, depending on the person using the device.


McAfee has a reasonably useful Web-based dashboard that offers more than the basics of just installing software. You'll see the current status of the protection of each of your devices -- whether protection is up to date, when the security software on it was last updated, when the last scan was done and when the next one will be done.

You can also install software on your current device or send a link to another device that, when clicked on, will go to a download link. It's not nearly as comprehensive as Webroot, but it's better than most reviewed here.

Bottom Line

If you've got an iOS device you want protected, McAfee isn't for you, because it won't protect the operating system in any realistic way. Its Windows component doesn't offer all the bells and whistles as Norton's, although parents will be pleased by its ability to filter out questionable content on TV, YouTube and iTunes.

If you have many Windows, OS X, and Android devices, though, this suite may well be your best bet, because for the price of one, it protects an unlimited number of devices -- as many as you want.

Norton 360 Multi-Device


Price: $39.99/6 mo., $69.99/yr., $134.99/2 yrs. or $199.99/3 yrs.

Number of devices: 5

It's this simple: If you want a suite with the greatest number of options -- not just for Windows security, but for optimization, startup and troubleshooting -- this is the one to get. It doesn't stint on protection for other devices, either, but Windows is where it really shines.


The range of tools you get with Norton is astonishing. As a start, it has all the security features you want, and they're eminently customizable. But it goes beyond that and offers a powerful suite of system tools as well.

It's all organized on the main screen via four main icons: Security, Identity, Backup and Tuneup. Underneath each icon you'll find a wealth of options and tools.

Tuneup, for example, includes a disk optimizer, file cleanup, startup manager and a comprehensive diagnostic report. Startup manager is an example of balancing ease of use with power -- it presents each application installed on the system, shows you community usage (how many Norton users have installed it) and rates the resource usage on your system, so you can decide whether to shut down those applications that use too many resources. And besides just turning them on or off, you can delay their start so that your system boots up quickly and then the applications load afterwards.

Admittedly, when you dig down, the wealth of options can be confusing. Firewall has five sets of settings: General, Program Rules, Traffic Rules, Intrusion and Browser Protection, and Advanced Settings. And each of those has many settings to turn on and off. It's a techie's dream and a newbie's nightmare.

There's also a Windows 8 app called Norton Studio that lets you see the status of each of your devices, including a snapshot of the most recent Norton activity -- the results of scans, any malware found, phishing sites encountered and blocked and so on. That's nice, but even nicer would be a single, integrated Windows app for Windows 8 devices. Instead, there's a desktop-based app that does all the work -- the same app that you install on other versions of Windows -- and then there's Norton Studio, which gives you an overview of your devices.


Norton's OS X protection, like those of every other suite reviewed here, doesn't match up to its Windows protection -- in this case, because it doesn't include tune-up tools, or nearly the depth of features you'll find on the Windows version. But it offers a solid suite of Mac protection tools, including antivirus, firewall, phishing-blocking, email and instant messenger protection, and identity protection.

In fact, you'll find a surprisingly deep level of features. For example, the firewall includes location awareness, meaning that you can configure different blocking settings for the different networks to which a Mac connects.

The interface is a bit un-Mac-like. It's got three big, oversized icons for Antivirus, Firewall and Identity that mimic the look of the software's PC icons and aren't quite as elegant-looking as you'd expect from a Mac. But it does the job.


Norton's iOS protection offers more features than the other suites covered here, including anti-theft components and the ability to back up your contacts. Like the others, though, it doesn't offer malware scanning, although it will check for malicious websites.


Although Norton falls down when it comes to iOS protection, its protection on Android devices is stellar. There's anti-malware, a module for scanning apps for potential privacy problems and one for locating, locking and wiping your device remotely. The tools for blocking spam phone calls and text messages are exemplary, using the Norton Spot ad detector, which you'll have to download as a separate free app (It's available whether you buy the suite or not.)

The interface itself, at least on a tablet, is done quite well, with a scrollable panel on the left-hand side for all the app's features, and a larger panel to the right, which gives you the options and notifications for the feature you're working with.

The privacy scanner includes a feature that many others should emulate. When it finds an app with potential privacy issues, it displays those issues, as do other similar apps. But you can also tap a "Trust" button to say that you trust the app, something that similar privacy scanners don't do. That way, any apps that you trust won't show up as privacy risks, making it easier to see new risks at a glance.


The good news: Norton has a Web-based dashboard. The bad news: It's not overly useful -- certainly not nearly as useful as Webroot's. Yes, it lists the devices you have installed the software on, and lets you add new devices and install software on them. And it also lets you see files you've backed up. But that's about the extent of it, apart from being able to manage the anti-theft features of your Android device.

Bottom Line

Norton protects Macs, Android devices and iOS devices, which makes it one of the few comprehensive suites that lives up to its promise to protect all your devices.

Norton's Windows component stands out for its wide range of features -- there's simply no other application that offers such a plethora of tools. It's slightly marred by an occasionally complex interface, but to a great extent that's because of how deep the product is. OS X and mobile protection is as good or, at least, nearly as good as any competitor. It falls short only in its Web dashboard.

If you don't care about a dashboard, it's the best of the bunch.

Panda Global Protection 2014

Panda Security

Price: $79.99/1 yr., $135.99/2 yrs. or $175.99/3 yrs.

Number of devices: 3 Windows PCs (plans also available for 1 PC, 5 PCs and 10 PCs); each plan also covers 1 Mac and unlimited iOS/Android devices

Panda offers somewhat vanilla safety features, and its PC component can be a bit confusing to use. It's also marred by very poor and basic Android protection.


Panda offers a solid range of Windows protective tools, although nothing out of the ordinary. It lacks social network protection and its tune-up tools are minimal (only defragment and file cleanup).

You get to the suite's features via big, colorful icons. Navigation can be confusing at times, however, if you want to dig deeply. For example, to see a single page to customize the way many features work, you click the icon for Identity Protection. From there, you customize not just that feature, but many others, including for spam, parental controls and various virus-scanning features.

In addition, some features aren't accessed via the big, colorful buttons, but instead via tiny white icons at the bottom of the screen. That's where you'll find the optimization module and a network management component that identifies Windows PCs and Macs on your network. (However, it was unable to find several iPads and an Android tablet on my network.)

It doesn't do more than identify them, though, and shows if each has Panda protection -- but it doesn't tell you if they have any other kind of security software. And although it identified the IP address of each device, it was unable to find the MAC address.


Panda's OS X protection is exceedingly basic -- it protects against malware, but doesn't offer other features such as remote wipe or tune-up tools. There are no parental controls, either. And depending on how you install the Mac component, you may get confused during the installation process. I installed from the Web, and after the installation was apparently completed, nothing happened. I had to hunt for the app's icon in the Applications folder, double-click it, and then complete the installation by typing in my registration code.

Once you do get it installed, Panda performs real-time scanning as you open and save files, and also scans your entire Mac on a schedule that you set. You can also specify specific folders to scan. But that's it.


Panda doesn't include an iOS security component. However, there is a way to use your Mac to scan your iOS device by connecting the device to your Mac and use the OS X scanner to scan it. But it's slow and awkward, because in order to scan, files are copied from the iOS device to your Mac, and are scanned there. Don't bother trying it.


Panda offers reasonable Android protection -- all the basics plus an extra. It protects against malware and can locate, lock or wipe a device. Its Privacy Auditor does a very nice job of listing apps that might be privacy invaders: It lists potential privacy problems such as Track Location, Access Contacts and Access Storage, and then shows you all the apps in each of those categories.

The extra is a task killer that lists the apps currently running on your Android device, shows you their CPU and RAM use, and lets you kill any that are currently running. (The apps aren't uninstalled; they're merely killed for the session until you re-start them.) But it doesn't block SMS spam or unwanted message senders like some other apps do.


You can't properly call what Panda offers a Web dashboard, because all it does is list the devices on which you've installed the software, let you install on new devices and allow you to renew your subscription. But you can't see the state of security on any device, uninstall software or do anything else.

Bottom Line

I was disappointed in Panda Global Protection for several reasons. Its Android protection is minimal, its Mac protection is basic and, for practical purposes, it provides barely any iOS protection. Added to that is that each package only protects a single Mac and that the cost ramps up quickly depending on how many Windows PCs you need to protect.

Trend Micro Titanium Maximum Security

Trend Micro

Price: $44.95/1 yr. or $69.95/2 yrs.

Number of devices: 3

Trend Micro manages to stuff just about every piece of security protection you want into almost all of your devices, yet manages to do it with clean, simple interfaces, as well as a straightforward Web-based dashboard. As with all the other products reviewed here, the most comprehensive protection is for Windows PCs, but it offers solid Android protection as well. It falls short in Mac protection, though, and offers nothing for iOS.


As with other security software reviewed here, Trend Micro's Windows protection is the most comprehensive in the suite. In addition to the expected anti-malware, it guards against email-borne spam, prevents your system from running malicious scripts on websites, has a firewall, and includes instant-messenger protection, although only for Yahoo Messenger and AIM, not for other services such as Skype. There's also a system tuner, recovery disk, privacy modules and more.

Despite the full set of features, Trend Micro's simple interface puts everything within easy reach, with five main tabs: Overview, PC/Mobile, Privacy, Data and Family. Underneath each tab are the individual modules; once you've clicked into a module, it's easy to customize how it works. This simple, clean navigation makes this suite one of the best when it comes to finding all of the software's features.

Trend Micro promises that it can check -- and tweak -- your privacy settings on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter using its Privacy Scanner feature.

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