When you compare broadband deals
, you shouldn’t consider just price and speed. You also want to examine the home security protection the internet providers offer. These measures can protect your devices and personal information from hackers and spyware, keeping you safe online.
BT security measures
When you sign up for a broadband deal from BT, you’ll receive BT Web Protect for free. This security product works on any device you connect to your home WiFi without needing to install software, and warns you when you’re about to access a potentially harmful website, including when you browse or click on links, even in emails. It can therefore protect you from viruses, scams and phishing attacks.
You’ll also receive BT Virus Protect. This is a more robust security solution, from well-reputed security software developer McAfee, and offers virus protection, personal firewalls, spyware protection, remote access protection, and health and performance tools for your computer and other devices.
You can install BT Virus Protect on up to 15 devices, depending on your broadband package. If you want to upgrade to 15 devices, you can pay an additional £4 per month, with the first month free.
Sky security measures
Sky includes Sky Broadband Shield with all broadband packages it sells. This blocks websites known to include malware and phishing at the network level and it works on all devices you connect to your home WiFi. You can also set up parental controls through Broadband Shield so your children don’t venture into the darker corners of the web.
Sky will also give you a 12-month free trial of McAfee Internet Security Suite, which detects, quarantines and blocks malware, installs a firewall around your devices, lets you delete unnecessary cookies and temporary internet files, and securely destroys sensitive files so they don’t fall into the wrong hands.
However, you can only install it on PCs and on a maximum of three so it won’t be useful if you want to protect your Mac, smartphone or tablet or have a large household with many devices. If you want to keep using the security suite after your 12-month free trial ends, you’ll have to pay £3 per month.
Virgin Media security measures
Each Virgin Media broadband connection comes with two layers of protection.
First, Web Safe blocks sites that potentially contain phishing and malware and which contravene parental controls you’ve set up, so they can’t be accessed by any device on your WiFi. It’s available for free with all Virgin Media broadband connections for as long as you’re subscribed.
Virgin also offers more advanced online protection, called Virgin Media Internet Security, powered by cyber security and privacy experts F-Secure. It detects and removes viruses, malware, ransomware and spyware; ensures all your online banking and shopping sessions are secure, and lets you set up advanced parental controls. It works with all Android, iOS, Windows and Mac devices and has an extra level of protection for Android devices, keeping your personal information safe if they’re stolen or go missing.
You can activate Virgin Media Internet Security on an unlimited number of devices. You’ll get three months free and then will need to subscribe for £3 a month, or £30 a year, paid through your Virgin Media bill.
TalkTalk security measures
All TalkTalk broadband packages come with HomeSafe, which blocks any device on your network from accessing websites that contain malware and lets you turn on parental controls.
If you want an additional layer of security, you can add SuperSafe Boost to your broadband plan for £2 a month, protecting up to eight devices. Powered by F-secure, this add-on gives you virus protection, identity protection, more parental controls and anti-theft features that help you locate your phone or tablet if it’s lost.
Plusnet security measures
Plusnet offers Plusnet SafeGuard with all its broadband deals, with network-level protection from hazardous websites and parental controls.
Plusnet Protect gives you virus and spyware protection, firewalls, and health and performance assessment on up to eight devices, with software from McAfee. You’ll get it for free with higher tiers of fibre broadband from Plusnet but will need to pay an additional £2 a month on other tariffs.
The verdict: the best broadband provider for online security
ISPs’ security measures are largely comparable so you’ll want to consider who’s giving you the most security for free and how many devices you can use it on.
BT’s McAfee-powered Virus Protect, now included with all internet packages for free, is a contender. However, you’re limited to two licences with most broadband packages. This won’t be enough for many busy households, which may need to upgrade their licence for an extra £4 a month. If you’re choosing BT’s faster fibre tier, you’ll be able to protect up to 15.
Similarly, BT-owned Plusnet also offers a McAfee-powered solution for free with its faster fibre packages.
If you don't need—or want to pay for—faster fibre and are largely running PCs, consider Sky's plans, which come with 12 months of security software for free, on a maximum of three PCs.
Ontop of taking advantage of the protection your provider offers, it's important to understand the basics of internet security so you can make sure your safe online