VPNs have plenty of practical uses, however, guarding against malware, such as viruses and Trojans, isn't one of them. For that, you'll need antivirus software. Surfshark, most well-known for its VPN, came upon the interesting idea of combining the two services. The result is Surfshark One – a security suite that combines antivirus and VPN features. In this review, we'll let you know what it's capable of.
What Is Surfshark Antivirus?
Surfshark Antivirus ⇱ is a cyber security tool that guards against malware, such as viruses and Trojan horses. It isn't available as a standalone program, but only as part of the Surfshark One Security Suite, which also includes a VPN, a safe-search tool (Surfshark Search), and data leak protection (Surfshark Alert).
We have had good experiences with Surfshark in the past, as their VPN was among the Top 3 in our sample. It achieved this position owing to its combination of user-friendliness, a wide variety of features, and top speeds, all at an affordable price. Below, we'll see whether Surfshark Antivirus can impress us as much as its VPN did.
Pros and Cons
Combines a VPN with antivirus protection
Has a user-friendly app
Is based on the tried and tested Avira engine
Only offers limited features
Has not proven its reliability
Is relatively expensive in comparison to full-fledged antivirus programs
Installation & Usage
As mentioned above, Surfshark Antivirus is not a standalone program, but part of the Surfshark One suite. Setup is easy: Just create a user account on Surfshark's website and book a paid subscription (unfortunately, free or trial versions aren't offered). After inputting your payment information, you'll be able to download the program.
Clients for different operating systems can be found and downloaded from the Apps & Extensions section of the Surfshark user area.
Download the version of Surfshark Antivirus that's compatible with your operating system.
Installing the program only takes a few minutes. Once complete, all you have to do is log in with your credentials and you'll be taken to the platform's user-friendly dashboard.
All of the programs that come with the suite can be found here: Using the navigation menu on the left, you can alternate between the VPN, Alert (its data leak feature), Search, and the antivirus program. When opening the antivirus program for the first time, you'll have to configure it. Surfshark will automatically install all the necessary system drivers, download the latest definitions, and activate real-time protection.
When starting the program for the first time, Surfshark Antivirus will automatically configure itself for your system.
After setup is complete, you'll be asked to perform your first scan. Once finished, you'll find yourself in the Surfshark Antivirus user interface, which is simply designed. To the right, you'll see your scan options (full or quick). There's also an area where you can drag and drop files or folders to check them individually.
Off to the left, you'll see the program's antivirus settings. With these, you can customize and schedule automatic scans, exempting certain files, folders, or directories in the process. In addition, you can update your virus definitions and toggle real-time protection on or off. Surfshark's antivirus program is fairly basic.
Surfshark Antivirus only offers a few features, which makes using it easy.
The other products that come with Surfshark One, namely, the VPN, Alert, and Search, are also easy to use. Under settings, you can customize the app's design, change its language, and enable push notifications and crash reports.
Mobile Surfshark App
Surfshark Antivirus also has a mobile companion app. This feels more like a VPN with antivirus features than a full-fledged antivirus program. In the navigation menu, tap on One and then on Surfshark Antivirus, and you'll be able to access the same features as on the desktop version.
Surfshark's smartphone app includes the same features as its desktop version.
Surfshark Antivirus is intuitive and easy to use, even for beginners. This is largely owing to the relatively limited selection of features it makes available, at least in comparison to other antivirus solutions. More on this in the next section though.
Surfshark Antivirus is rather streamlined when it comes to its features, limiting itself to the necessities. Let's start with its scans.
The program offers two scan options, full and quick. Either can be customized to your specifications. All you'll have to do is specify when (day and time) you'd like the scan to commence.
Certain elements can be excluded from some kinds of scans. User-defined, scheduled scans cannot be configured further, meaning that you'll have to content yourself with these being full or quick. Other antivirus programs offer considerably more choice and flexibility in this area.
Scans can be scheduled throughout the week in advance.
Real-Time Protection: One Size Fits All
Even fewer options are offered for real-time protection, with your choices basically limited to toggling it on or off. The only other specification you can make is for how long to pause the service, either for a set amount of time or until your device restarts.
Other antivirus providers are more flexible in this regard, particularly when it comes to individually configurable levels of protection. Surfshark Antivirus only gives users a simple on/off button. There's neither webcam nor email protection, nor are there any advanced features for combating ransomware or brute force attacks.
Real-time protection can only be paused for a set length of time, or toggled on or off.
Lacking Lots of Basic Features
Along with scans and real-time protection, most antivirus programs offer a variety of extra features and tools. Regrettably, this isn't the case with Surfshark: There's no firewall, data shredder, or backup tool. Child protection, anti-theft countermeasures (particularly for mobile devices), and performance tuning also aren't on the menu.
You will get an ad blocker and CleanWeb, the platform's browser-level Web protection tool, both of which come regularly with Surfshark VPN, which we'll briefly touch upon below.
The Star: Surfshark VPN
While several other antivirus solutions from our sample offer rudimentary VPNs as extras, this is one area where Surfshark makes up some ground. After all, with Surfshark One, the VPN is the main attraction, owing to its excellent performance, as shown in our EXPERTE.com speed test, to say nothing of its bountiful features and useful extras.
Of the latter, MultiHop, which routes your connection through multiple VPN servers, and Bypasser, the service's split tunneling component (limits your VPN connection to specific apps and websites), are perhaps the two most notable. Turning to protocols, you'll be able to select between OpenVPN and WireGuard.
Surfshark's VPN is first in class.
Apart from that, you'll also get the aforementioned Alert and Search. The first takes you to a browser environment that serves as a sort of security center for your data: Here, you'll get notifications when your email address(es) or credit card number(s) appear anywhere online.
Surfshark Search is an anonymous search engine that doesn't allow ads to manipulate your search results and limits tracking.
A VPN with Antivirus Extras
If we were assessing Surfshark Antivirus as part of a VPN program, we'd award it high scores. However, since we're talking about an antivirus solution that offers a VPN as an extra, we have to compare it to that kind of software. Accordingly, Surfshark Antivirus is simply missing too many features that we expect antivirus solutions to have: The scans are barely customizable, advanced protection isn't offered, and useful tools like a shredder, anti-theft countermeasures, or parental content controls are nowhere to be found.
Score: 2 / 5
Security & Performance
In this chapter, we'll take a closer look at Surfshark Antivirus's ability to provide security, and its performance, based on expert analyses. For antivirus software, we consult two testing labs, AV-Test ⇱ and AV-Comparatives ⇱, each of which awards separate scores for security and performance.
Because Surfshark Antivirus is so new to the market, neither of the two labs has examined it in detail, yet. However, since the program uses Avira's antivirus engine (integrated via SDK), the scores for that provide a useful indicator of where Surfshark likely stands. For Avira, the scores are very good:
100% (6 / 6)
100% (6 / 6)
100% (3 / 3)
Still, just because Surfshark Antivirus uses Avira SDK doesn't mean that they are one and the same: After all, each antivirus program has its own features and security mechanisms.
Unfortunately, there are murmurs that Surfshark Antivirus's provision of security isn't as good as would be hoped: PC Mag ⇱ gave the software a score of 53 %, the second worst in its comparison. This is because Surfshark only snapped its digital jaws at 71% of the sample viruses, with it being suspicious of only half of the remaining files when opening or launching them.
Until the testing labs weigh in, we're cautious about assessing the level of security Surfshark Antivirus provides. While the use of Avira SDK should give it a solid foundation, there's still a lot that is left up to the developers.
Score: 3 / 5
You can access Surfshark's support area by heading to Settings > Help. Clicking on any of the links there will take you to Surfshark's website. Unfortunately, there aren't too many entries related to the developer's antivirus component. Nevertheless, the few that are there are of good quality and feature lots of screenshots.
Surfshark's support area is directly integrated into its app.
Click on Get Help Now in order to access the developer's direct support options. Questions or queries can be sent either via email or live chat.
During testing, we were connected via chat with a support staffer in a few seconds. They answered our questions competently and were both friendly and eager to assist us. The emailed query we sent was also quickly addressed, with an answer taking just 15 minutes to arrive.
Overall, we were very satisfied with Surfshark's support, even though a telephone hotline would be a nice addition.
Score: 4.3 / 5
Surfshark Antivirus is only available as part of the Surfshark One suite. The price of this depends on how long a subscription you book. The most affordable option is a 24-month package, which saves 72% (in the first two years) in comparison to the monthly version. The 12-month subscription has the same basic price, meaning a saving of 62% in the first year compared to the monthly subscription.
Business packages aren't offered and the features included in all Surfshark One subscriptions are identical.
Below, you can find an overview of all rates:
|24 months||12 months||1 month|
|Price per Year||$47.76||$65.76||$173.28|
|Contract Period (Months)||24||12||1|
|Max. Number of Devices||5||5||5|
|Special Protection Features|
Setting Surfshark Antivirus next to other solutions from our sample shows that in terms of price, it's on the more expensive end of the spectrum. To be fair, you're mostly paying for the service's VPN, with the antivirus capabilities thrown in as an extra. Since VPNs are more expensive than antivirus programs it isn't surprising that a Surfshark One subscription costs more than an antivirus program.
All the same, if you settle on another antivirus solution that offers a VPN, you'll likely notice the price increase (especially if you exceed the feature's data cap or other limits).
The table below compares each provider's offering on the basis of a sample, with similar conditions
Surfshark doesn't offer a free or trial version of its antivirus program. You can, however, request a full, money-back refund within 30 days of purchasing a subscription.
For us, Surfshark Antivirus provides a refreshing lesson in perspective: Those who expect Surfshark's antivirus solution to be able to go toe-to-toe with the other, dedicated options on the market are likely to be disappointed. In terms of features, Surfshark provides the basics. Gauging how much security it offers is difficult at the moment owing to the lack of verified lab tests, and its high price, in comparison to other anti-malware tools, is off-putting.
On the other hand, if you'd like to have a no-frills antivirus solution to go along with your Surfshark VPN subscription, the extra cost might be palatable. For just a few dollars more, you can upgrade from a Surfshark VPN subscription to Surfshark One, and take advantage of what it has to offer. As things stand, we would venture that this is the target audience for Surfshark One, namely, those who already have subscribed to its VPN (or are looking for a VPN) and want additional antivirus protection without having to download another program.
We haven't been able to identify a representative enough number of Surfshark reviews that pertain only to the developer's antivirus solution. More generally speaking, Surfshark has a positive reputation, with its support often lauded.
Alternatives to Surfshark Antivirus
Supposing that you'd like to combine a VPN and antivirus, but are more interested in the latter, Bitdefender and Norton are worth exploring. Bitdefender took the top spot in our antivirus comparison, however, only its pricey Premium Security subscription comes with an unlimited VPN. With Norton, you'll get the same starting with 360 Standard.
On the other hand, if you're looking for a VPN with more antivirus features, the best performer from our sample, NordVPN, might be more your cup of tea. Threat Protection guards, for example, against trackers and viruses, however, the service doesn't include virus scans or advanced anti-malware features.
We've listed more of the leading alternatives to Surfshark Antivirus here: