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Don’t want hackers snooping around your iPhone? Prefer to keep your PC from nasty viruses? Sick of scam emails flooding your inbox with dodgy links? The best antivirus software will put your worries at ease.

With ransomware attacks on the rise around the globe and in New Zealand, phishing campaigns threatening unsuspecting users with scam emails and cybercriminals developing more sophisticated malware, having the best antivirus installed is essential.

Want a taste of how good they are? Bitdefender deals with 550 new malware every minute. That’s over 500 threats you don’t have to worry about if you use an antivirus; the best of them will even throw in extra security tools like a VPN, password manager and more.

Everyone needs an antivirus to protect their device from malware, so you may as well grab the best around. Even better, some of the best antivirus software is entirely free. Without further ado, find the best antivirus in New Zealand.

What is antivirus software?

Yes, antivirus keeps your devices safe, but what exactly is it? Antivirus software detects, prevents and removes any form of malware on your device. This includes computer viruses, spyware, adware, ransomware, Trojans, worms and spam. Any malicious software a hacker concocts, its an antivirus’ job to thwart its devious plans to steal your data.

As for how it works, an antivirus will scan through everything on your device, including software, applications, files and even web pages, to make sure its free of malicious code. If malware is found, it will block the threat, warn the user it’s on their device and remove it. It’s like having a digitalised version of top secret agents whose sole purpose is to search and destroy.

Antivirus software will perform different types of analysis, including specific analysis, pinpointing familiar malware; generic analysis, recognising parts of known malware code; and heuristic analysis, which searches for unknown, threatening malware that follows the usual malicious routine. Cybercriminals may continue to construct new strains of malware and exploit zero-day vulnerabilities, but cybersecurity experts stay one step ahead.

Find out more about the importance of antivirus software in our exclusive Norton 360 interview.

What antivirus is best?

Picking the best antivirus software comes down to what you need. Our selection of software deliver near-perfect scores when it comes to malware detection and protection, meaning no matter which you pick, you’re sure to a secure defence for your devices.

Along with protecting your device and personal information, the best antivirus software should provide an easy-to-use user interface, a bundle of extra perks and a affordable price sticker. Notable cybersecurity experts, including AV-Comparatives, AV-Test Institute and MRG-Effitas, have tested the antivirus services we’ve selected. Each has achieved exceptional lab test scores, with some scoring higher in certain areas than others. Below is a breakdown of the results we follow.

AV-Comparatives Real-World ProtectionOnline Malware ProtectionOnline Detection RateOffline Detection RatePerformance Impact (lower is better)
Norton 36099.9%99.9%99.4%85.7%6.3
Avast One100%100%98.8%93.9%6.1

Researchers at AV-Comparatives test a number of antivirus services, giving them a score from Standard certification to Advanced+ certification. The latter is awarded to software that goes above and beyond just passing tests, which include real-world protection rates, online malware protection and detection, offline detection and the impact on a device’s performance.

AV-Test InstituteMalware ProtectionMalware DetectionOverall Score
Norton 360100%100%18/18
Avast One100%100%18/18

As for the AV-Test Institute, researchers score a service based on their protection against malware, impact on a device’s performance and overall usability. The test we look at is an antivirus software’s ability to protect against zero-day malware attacks, including websites and email threats, and detection rates for recently discovered malware.

MRG-EffitasBanking Trojan TestMalware Test Certification
Norton 360N/AN/A
AVGFailLevel 2
MalwarebytesPassLevel 1
Avast OneFailLevel 2
BitdefenderPassLevel 1

Lastly, researchers at MRG-Effitas use a banking Trojan test and throw different types of malware at it. To pass the first test, the antivirus software needs a perfect score, while the malware test offers two scores: Level 1 for blocking every malware and Level 2 for having some malware slip through but being destroyed in 24 hours.

Best Antivirus Software NZ 2023

Below is a breakdown of the best antivirus software to boost your device’s defences. Whether its a VPN, password manager, dark web monitoring or simply an antivirus, you’ll find an antivirus that’s right for you. Oh, and watch this space for further updates.

If you’re looking for more ways to keep safe while online, be sure to check out Norton Genie, a free AI-powered scam detection tool that works on PC and iPhone.

1. Norton 360

Best overall antivirus software

Best antivirus: Norton 360

“Norton” and “antivirus” are synonymous these days, as the well-established cybersecurity brand has successfully fought against malware, viruses and nasty software threats since 1990. 

Norton 360 offers excellent antivirus protection and extra features that make for a valuable, all-in-one security product. Its Norton 360 Deluxe and Premium package may cost a pretty penny. Still, with security across multiple platforms, a full-blown VPN, Dark Web Monitoring, Parental Controls and more, it will have a household free of cyber threats. 

Norton’s certainty of its antivirus software’s capabilities is clearly defined by the brand’s 100% Virus Protection Promise. If a device protected by Norton 360 can’t get rid of a virus, the user receives their money back. It’s a big claim, but unquestionably, no one should expect to get that refund.

If you have the money for it, you can also check out the premium Norton 360 Platinum package for even more online protection, including from identity theft.

Full Norton 360 review.

2. AVG

Best free antivirus

Best antivirus: AVG

You can never go wrong with free antivirus protection, but some deliver even better detection and protection rates, along with extra security features, without costing a dime. This is where AVG antivirus shines.

AVG provides reliable protection and only a small impact on performance for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android. It safeguards your devices against malware, viruses and zero-day exploits, along with blocking malicious links and attachments in emails. Throw in phishing protection when surfing the internet and extra security features such as its SafePrice browser extension and Network Inspector, and you’ve got yourself a do-it-all antivirus.

Sure, you can find all of these perks with other free antivirus software like Avast, but if you like a slick, darker user interface that’s easy to navigate, then AVG is for you.

Full AVG Antivirus review.

3. Bitdefender

Best antivirus for premium features

Best Antivirus: Bitdefender

Bitdefender is a top dog among antivirus software, and for good reason. It’s not enough that it boasts near-perfect lab test scores across the board, as it goes the extra mile by giving users access to a plethora of advanced security features.

Bitdefender goes above and beyond in the features department, all while keeping known malware, ransomware, and viruses at bay. It will defend your device against new attacks, provide security for online transactions, keep you safe with a reliable VPN, and protect your accounts with a password manager.

It’s a no-brainer when it comes to defending your devices against virtually any form of cyberattack, and its top-notch protection extends to its most affordable package, too. Protecting your PC and smartphone, from Windows and macOS to iOS and Android, is becoming even more necessary, and Bitdefender is the tricked-out shield you need. 

Full Bitdefender review.

4. Avast

Another best free antivirus

Avast One Logo on Laptop Display with blurred coffee shop cafe interior

With Avast Free Antivirus, you can protect your device from viruses, malware and ransomware for free. That’s right, and you don’t have to pay a dime for the extra security features the antivirus throws in. What’s more, you can get a VPN, firewall and more at an affordable price.

Avast will safeguard your device from malware, comes with ransomware protection, blocks harmful websites and downloads from the web, scans your emails for malicious attachments, stops hackers from infiltrating your device through Wi-Fi with a firewall – the list goes on. That’s a lot of tools for an antivirus, and the included VPN and the ability to speed up your PC are a welcome bonus.

It’s the ideal antivirus software for home use, as it takes the hassle out of staying wary of cyber threats lurking around, even if you’re not a tech whizz. What’s more, if you are looking for added precautions, its paid Premium Security and Ultimate packages still boast great value.

Full Avast One review.

5. Malwarebytes

Best antivirus for Windows PC

Best antivirus: Malwarebytes

Hundreds of malware emerge every minute, and it’s Malwarebytes’ mission to detect and conquer them all. Does the antivirus do this successfully? Yes, but there’s wiggle room for improvements.

Malwarebytes’ no-nonsense approach to protecting your devices from the onslaught of malware and viruses is effective for those who need a reliable antivirus that will detect and remove malicious software, especially with its free version. However, while its premium service provides 24/7 real-time detection, conveniently blocks vicious ransomware and shields users from malicious websites, it doesn’t go beyond on the feature front.

That’s no bad thing, as sometimes a user only needs a powerful antivirus to keep them safe from cyber threats. But considering its competitors add a few more security tools, such as data breach monitoring and a firewall, there’s room for improvement. 

Full Malwarebytes review.