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The best security products of 2013

Over the course of a year, we test a lot of tech products, from laptops through tablets to mobiles, along with a range of other hardware from routers to external hard disks, and of course an abundance of software from office suites to security utilities.

And every year, products make improvements on the previous year’s offerings, both in terms of quality and value. Indeed, many product categories have a number of excellent offerings among their ranks – but sometimes you want things really narrowed down. Sometimes, you want to know the winner among the winners – and that’s what this series of articles is all about.

We’ve already looked at a number of categories thus far, including the best laptops of 2013, the top tablets, and the best smartphone and mobile devices (for more links, see the Related Articles section underneath the comments at the bottom of this article). In each category, we’ve highlighted the top product for 2013 across all the main sub-categories within. Today, we’re looking at the best security products.

Each product mentioned is the top of its class for 2013, and as such comes with an unreserved recommendation.

So, which is our favourite Internet security suite and password manager utility of the year? Read on to find out… and stay tuned for more top products of 2013 in the coming days as we run up to Christmas.

Best password manager: Dashlane 2.0 (free)

Dashlane manages and protects all of your passwords. Version 2.0 is better than ever, with automatic form field capture, security breach alerts, secure sharing of login credentials, and a new browser extension for Firefox and Chrome. It generates strong passwords, rates passwords as you type, helps you replace weak passwords, and even keeps a record of your online purchases.

You can securely share logins with other Dashlane users and double-secure your data using Google Authenticator. This program also includes built-in training to walk you through all its password management features. Note that if you want to use it on more than one device, you’ll need a premium subscription which costs $30 (£18) per year—Neil J. Rubenking.

Best security suite: Norton Internet Security 2014 (£25)

This suite's excellent blocking of malicious and fraudulent websites will keep you away from danger – it's the touchstone we measure other anti-phishing tools against. Norton Internet Security 2014's intelligent firewall sets permissions for known good programs and monitors unknowns for risky behaviours, without ever popping up a confusing query. Multi-layered antivirus protection fends off new threats and roots out those already present. It keeps almost all spam out of your inbox without discarding valid mail. All the components of this suite are top-notch and it does the job without trampling your system's performance—NJR.

Best standalone antivirus: Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2014 (£30)

Bitdefender's antivirus technology routinely takes top scores in tests by independent antivirus labs, and also scored well in our hands-on testing. It's one of very few security products that detects phishing sites better than Norton, and it can optionally prevent transmission of private data out of your computer. The new Bitdefender Wallet stores passwords and personal data, the SafePay secure browser protects financial transactions, and Bitdefender SafeGo flags dangerous links in your Facebook profile. It even finds unpatched security vulnerabilities. There's definitely a reason for the "Plus" in this product's name. Note that the £30 version of Bitdefender Antivirus Plus covers three PCs for a year, but if you just want one machine covered, the asking price is slightly less at £25—NJR.

Best parental control: OME-Kids (£6)

Setting up OME-Kids email accounts for your children gives them access to spam-free email while letting you keep a watchful eye on their correspondence. Each OME-Kids account gets the same extremely accurate spam filtering as the excellent OnlyMyEmail Personal, and you can also control your child's email activity at different levels. You can hold all incoming mail pending parental approval, review received mail, or get a BCC of all messages your child sends. As your child gets older you can step down the monitoring level and allow more privacy—NJR.

Best mobile security: Bitdefender Mobile Security and Antivirus for Android (£7)

To fully protect your phone, a security app needs to bring together protection from malicious software as well as tools to keep your phone safe from loss and theft. Bitdefender Mobile Security for Android accomplishes both of these tasks gracefully, and at a reasonable £7 per year – far less than many other big-name competitors. With it, you can also use SMS commands to take control of your phone when it's missing and evaluate how much of your private information each app accesses. This is a lightweight app which is laser-focused on security—Max Eddy.