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Antivirus software for email protection

If you’ve ever received spam in your inbox, there’s probably no reason to explain why you need to be wary of suspicious emails. Although you should always be vigilant yourself, you can also seek help from a reliable antivirus for email that provides protection against malware hiding behind links and attachments.

Trustworthy antivirus for email actively detects and neutralizes threats and safeguards sensitive data. In short, investing in a reliable antivirus ensures comprehensive protection beyond basic email security, making it a crucial asset.

We tested 25 premium antiviruses that claim to automatically detect and remove potentially malicious emails. Here are our top 5 antiviruses to protect your emails.

5 best antivirus for email protection

The best antivirus for email protection in 2024

We tested 25 antivirus tools for email protection to determine what features set them apart. Through our in-house tests, we conducted quick and full system scans to see how much protection they offer when you send or receive emails. To conclude our top list of best antiviruses, we evaluated real-time protection, malware scanning properties, and security features.

1. Norton Antivirus – best all-purpose antivirus for email protection

Free version:No
Platforms:Windows, macOS, iOS, Android
Price:From $29.99/month
Current deal:Get up to 58% OFF Norton Antivirus

Norton Antivirus is the leading software for advanced threat detection and email protection. Its set of features ensures secure email interactions, making it a top choice for businesses seeking comprehensive protection against cyberthreats.

Email scanning test. When we tested Norton’s capabilities to protect emails against malware, we uncovered that the antivirus detects infected files and removes them immediately. Norton Antivirus successfully protects your email against phishing attacks and malware, too. With its AntiSpam feature, Norton uses local filters to determine if a message is spam and should be sent to a junk folder.

Real-time protection. Norton Antivirus provides real-time protection, detecting viruses, spyware, ransomware, and other types of malware. In short, Norton’s database of known threats is constantly updated, and the antivirus can detect threats targeting your inbox in real time. During our tests, Norton Antivirus caught 100% of malware files, which is one of the reasons why it has earned the number-one spot on this list.

Security features. Norton Antivirus offers a two-way silent firewall that monitors network traffic. With Norton Antivirus, you also get a password manager that keeps your passwords secure.

Pricing. Norton Antivirus Plus is the most basic Norton Antivirus plan that covers 1 device for $29.99 for the first year. For more security features, you may choose other Norton Antivirus plans. If you choose Norton 360 Advanced, you will be able to secure up to 5 devices for $49.99/year.

2. TotalAV antivirus – reliable real-time email protection antivirus

Total AV user interface
Free version:Yes
Platforms:Windows, macOS, iOS, Android
Price:From $19.00/month
Current deal:Get TotalAV, now 80% OFF!

TotalAV is a versatile antivirus solution that offers comprehensive email scanning and protection against ransomware. It stands out for its ability to protect your email inbox from various viruses and malicious links. In essence, TotalAV stands as a solid antivirus for email.

Email scanning test. During our testing, we challenged the antivirus with several malicious file samples, and the system scan found all of them. That is why you can trust TotalAV's protection against phishing scams. If emails in your inbox contain malicious code or malware attachments, TotalAV will find these threats and you can select an action for each of the malicious files – whether you want to quarantine, whitelist, or delete them.

Real-time protection. TotalAV antivirus enables real-time protection by default. Besides, it uses advanced cloud scanning to compare scanned threats to those in the known malware database. TotalAV will protect you from malicious viruses, malware, and dangerous websites in real time. However, Norton Antivirus' real-time protection is more comprehensive with Intrusion Prevention System and Proactive Exploit Protection features that help to recognize malicious behaviors.

Security features. TotalAV is well-known for ransomware protection. It contains a WebShield extension that stops you from visiting malicious websites by checking the sites you want to visit against TotalAV’s list of known malicious sites. WebShield is available on Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, and Opera browsers.

Pricing. TotalAV’s free plan is very basic, while the cheapest premium plan costs only $19.00/year, covers up to 3 devices, and includes the main security features. If you want to have advanced security features, like VPN, password manager, and ad blocker, you should choose TotalAV’s Total Security plan, which costs $49.00/year.

3. ESET NOD32 – excellent email protection antivirus with solid security features

ESET NOD32 banner 1
Free version:No
Platforms:Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS
Price:From $49.99/year
Current deal:Get ESET, save up to 15%

ESET NOD32 Antivirus is trusted software renowned for its core protection features, including antivirus and anti-spyware defenses. It excels in email protection through seamless integration with popular email clients. What’s more, ESET NOD32 is an ideal choice for businesses prioritizing security in their email marketing strategies.

Email scanning test. To uncover ESET NOD32 capabilities, we tested its email scanning against malware. During our tests, we found that ESET NOD32 Anti-Phishing protection, Email client protection, and Antispam protection features work effectively. Overall, ESET is a trustworthy antivirus for your inbox protection.

Real-time protection. ESET NOD32 Antivirus includes real-time file system protection that checks all files for malicious code when opened, created, or run. It is enabled by default. ESET provides advanced protection just like Norton Antivirus, but it may be more user-friendly because of its intuitive navigation and ease of use.

Security features. ESET NOD32 Antivirus protects against all types of online and offline threats and prevents malware from spreading to other users. Besides, it catches attacks by malicious scripts that try to exploit Windows PowerShell. If you are an advanced user, it offers such features as Gamer mode, which is for users who don’t want to be disturbed by pop-up windows and want to minimize CPU usage.

Pricing. ESET NOD32 plans start from $49.99year for 1 device (Home Security Essential plan). The final price depends on the number of devices you wish to protect and your chosen plan. If you want premium protection, choose the ESET Home Security Ultimate subscription with such additional security features as a VPN and identity theft protection. The pricing of this plan starts at $179.99/year.

4. Bitdefender antivirus – best malware shield antivirus with strong real-time malware scanning

Bitdefender interface
Free version:Yes
Platforms:Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux
Price:From $29.99/month
Current deal:Get Bitdefender for up to 50% OFF!

Bitdefender is a cutting-edge antivirus program with advanced threat protection and anti-phishing capabilities. It is recommended for email protection due to its comprehensive features, including an integrated password manager and a VPN. It’s an excellent choice for businesses focused on secure email communication.

Email scanning test. We have tested various malware samples and found that Bitdefender’s AntiSpam feature works perfectly, filtering your email client inbox. You can add email addresses or domain names to the blocklist or whitelist.

Real-time protection. Bitdefender antivirus provides real-time protection that catches threats before they enter your system. Overall, this feature protects your device from new and well-known cyberthreats. Unlike ESET NOD32 Antivirus, Bitdefender offers cross-platform malware protection. While scanning, Bitdefender checks macOS devices for Windows malware and vice versa.

Security features. Bitdefender's AntiSpam feature works with any mailbox and provides protection against spam and phishing attacks. The best part is that it can detect spam messages faster than any trained cybersecurity expert. Because of its sophisticated algorithms, Bitdefender can identify and block phishing attempts, protecting users from email-based scams.

Additionally, Bitdefender's email scanning capabilities ensure that attachments are thoroughly inspected for malware, preventing malicious software from infecting the user's system.

Pricing. Bitdefender subscription starts from $29.99/year. However, Bitdefender has several subscriptions that differ by OS, security features, and the number of supported devices. You can also choose from basic Bitdefender protection for Windows PC or Mac, or an all-in-one Bitdefender Total Security plan that costs $49.99/year for 5 devices.

5. McAfee Antivirus – popular email antivirus with solid firewall protection

McAfee user interface
Free version:Yes
Platforms:Windows, Mac, Android, iOS
Price:From $39.99/month
Current deal:Get McAfee, save up to 70%

Securing your email communication is integral to maintaining the trust of your audience. That is why McAfee is the perfect antivirus for safeguarding against email-based malware and phishing attacks.

Email scanning test. When we tested McAfee’s email protection, the AntiSpam feature successfully blocked all malicious sites. Each time an email message is sent to or received from a source, McAfee scans it comparing it with a list of known viruses and suspected virus-like behavior. Moreover, McAfee scans content within the email message using rules and policies defined within the software.

Real-time protection. McAfee provides real-time protection, also known as On-Access scanning. So, you can be sure the scanner will deny infected files or programs from accessing your system. When it comes to AV-Comparatives, McAfee scores 99.95% in online protection, unlike Norton Antivirus, which scores 99.98%.

Security features. McAfee Antivirus, a well-established name in the cybersecurity market, offers real-time scanning, firewall protection, and a secure VPN. Recommended for its multi-layered approach, identity theft protection, and intuitive interface, McAfee is a solid choice for businesses looking to ensure the integrity of their email marketing communications.

Pricing. McAfee Antivirus plans start at $39.99/year. McAfee offers other subscription plans that differ by security features and the number of devices covered. For example, if you choose to protect 5 devices, the Essential plan starts at $39.99/year. To protect unlimited devices and access all security features McAfee has to offer, you can subscribe to the McAfee+ Advanced plan that costs $89.99/year.

How we tested antivirus software for email

To test the best antivirus software for email protection, we analyzed 25 antiviruses and picked tools that offer the best email protection features. We also considered the price, independent lab malware test results, and performance. Here's exactly how we picked the best antivirus software for email protection:

  • In-house tests. During our in-house antivirus tests, we infected dedicated test devices with malware samples and ran various antivirus scans, analyzing the results. We were looking for antiviruses that catch no less than 80% of malicious files.
  • Independent tests. We checked malware detection tests performed by independent labs AV-TEST and AV-Comparatives. We specifically checked how antiviruses deal with 0-day and widespread malware.
  • Enhanced email security features. We looked at how antiviruses react to all incoming and outgoing messages from your email inbox. We evaluated how many infected files were identified, caught, blocked, or cleaned.
  • Dedicated customer support. We considered the providers’ customer support options. We included services that provide you with human support, especially 24/7 assistance, ensuring seamless email protection.
  • Affordable email security. We selected the best antiviruses based on fair pricing, factoring in extra tools, virus detection rates, and the quality of customer support for comprehensive and budget-friendly email protection.
  • Optimized performance. We considered antivirus optimization for excellent performance and usability. To pick the best of the best, we checked each antivirus’s scan frequency and intensity to see how much CPU or RAM it uses.

Best antivirus for email compared

BrandPricingEmail scanningFeaturesReal time scanningFree versionDevice supportReview
Norton AntivirusFrom $29.99/year✅ Yes
Real-time threat protection, Password manager, VPN, Smart Firewall, Cloud backup, SafeCam✅ Yes
❌ No
Windows, macOS, iOS, AndroidNorton review
TotalAVfrom $19.00/year, 4 devices✅ Yes
Safe Browsing (VPN), WebShield extension, System tune up, Secure Password Vault, Ad blocker✅ Yes
✅ Yes
Windows, macOS, iOS, AndroidTotalAV review
ESET NOD32From $49.99/year✅ Yes
Anti-theft tools, Password Manager, Switch Protection Mode, Secure browser✅ Yes
✅ Yes
Windows, macOS, AndroidESET NOD32 review
BitdefenderFrom $29.99/year✅ Yes
Advanced Threat Defense, Ransomware remediation, AntiSpam, VPN, Password manager✅ Yes
✅ Yes
Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, LinuxBitdefender review
McAfee AntivirusFrom $39.99/year✅ Yes
Ransomware protection, QuickClean, Vulnerability scanner, Password manager✅ Yes✅ Yes
Android, iOS, macOS, and WindowsMcAfee review

Can I scan an email for viruses?

Yes, you can scan an email for viruses using antivirus software with email scanning capabilities. Antiviruses automatically scan incoming and outgoing emails for malicious attachments, links, and content. You should make sure to update the program regularly and run a full scan periodically.

Antivirus detects and removes viruses, trojans, and other malware threats. It protects your devices and email accounts from potential security breaches and infections. Phishing emails contain malware attachments or malicious links to fraudulent websites. Once you've clicked the link or downloaded the attachment, malware can pass through into the system and steal your personal data.

If you care about being protected when sending or receiving emails, you should get a trusted antivirus, such as Norton Antivirus.

How antivirus protects my email from malware

Email has become a crucial communication tool for both personal and professional purposes. However, with the rise of cyberthreats, such as malware and phishing attacks, ensuring the security of email communication is more important than ever. This is how an antivirus protects your email from malware:

  • Real-time scanning. Antivirus software continuously monitors incoming and outgoing emails in real time, scanning attachments, links, and content for signs of malware.
  • Malware detection. Upon detecting a potential threat, antivirus software employs sophisticated algorithms and signature-based detection methods to identify viruses, trojans, ransomware, and other forms of malware.
  • Quarantine. If malware is found, antivirus software quarantines the infected email or attachment, preventing it from reaching the recipient's inbox and potentially causing harm to the system.
  • Notification. Users are promptly notified of the detected threat through notifications, informing them of the potential risk and providing guidance on how to proceed.
  • Removal or action. Depending on the severity of the threat and the antivirus settings, users can choose to remove the infected email, delete the malicious attachment, or take further action to mitigate the risk of infection.

Can a free antivirus protect my email?

Yes, using a free antivirus is fine if all you need is basic email protection. On the other hand, premium tools, like Norton Antivirus, provide real-time scanning, robust threat detection, phishing protection, and other features to ensure a more fortified defense against advanced online threats. So, the most notable drawback of free antivirus software is that it offers fewer security features than paid versions.

More precisely, Bitdefender and TotalAV have 100% free antivirus versions. However, while free options may meet minimal needs, investing in a premium antivirus ensures a higher level of protection. It safeguards your email communications and provides peace of mind. We recommend to use premium security tools that are much better suited to today's internet threat landscape — particularly if you're not the most experienced internet user.

How does antivirus software handle email attachments containing malware?

Almost any kind of malware, including viruses, spyware, and ransomware, can be delivered via an email attachment. Malware may hide in such files as .iso, .exe, .pdf., .zip, .doc, .xls, or .ppt. The most common types of malware to spread via email attachments include:

  • Viruses. Once inside your system, they will replicate themselves from system to system.
  • Trojans. They disguise as files in email attachments. Once opened, they can gain control of a device, spy on the user, or execute other types of malware.
  • Spyware. It collects confidential information, often by using tracking cookies or stealing private information.

To prevent attacks or delete malware from your device, you should rely on trustworthy security software. Antivirus software, like Norton Antivirus, handles email attachments containing malware by performing real-time scans and analyzing incoming and outgoing emails. When a malicious email attachment is detected, the antivirus software scans it for known malware signatures or suspicious behavior patterns.

If malware is found, the antivirus may quarantine or delete the infected attachment to prevent it from harming the user's device or spreading to other systems. Additionally, some antivirus programs offer advanced features, such as email sandboxing, to help further analyze and contain potentially malicious attachments.

During the process of sandboxing, malware is sent to a segmented storage location where it cannot reach the internal network. Security analysts use sandboxed malware to research zero-day threats and identify their attack modes.


Using an antivirus is essential for email protection because it prevents malware and phishing attacks that could compromise sensitive data. Being vigilant and careful is no longer enough in today’s vulnerable online space.

Our recommendation is rooted in thorough research and testing, ensuring the selected antivirus tools provide robust security for your email inboxes. We also take pricing into consideration because we want to make sure our readers are getting the best deal for their money.

Our top choice is Norton Antivirus. Pricing starts at $29.99/year. It secures your email communication in real time, offers solid email scanning, a trusted password manager, a smart firewall, and a secure VPN.

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