Mr. Kaspersky encountered his first digital virus back in 1989 and has since established the world-renowned Kaspersky Antivirus that has protected millions of PC users from online malware.
Kaspersky is on the forefront of cyber-fighting and has proven 100% effective against all kinds of malware by various third-party tests. Kaspersky Antivirus is a straightforward package that focuses on the core security fundamentals which is to detect known and brand-new malware and to keep users away from malicious links online.
However, there have been a few questions on Kaspersky’s data collection practices in 2015. It is claimed that Kaspersky had replaced staff members with Russian government employees to steal US intelligence data. In fact, the US government departments have even banned the use of Kaspersky software on all staff computers.
While this scandal has hurt Kaspersky’s reputation badly, the company denies all such allegations and has taken drastic steps to improve its transparency such as moving a large part of their network out of Russia.
In any case, Kaspersky is still one of the strongest malware and virus protection available on the market. The software not only offers strong security, but they do also include some nice features that are really easy to use.
Today’s in-depth review will focus on how well Kaspersky protects users against malware and the types of features they provide.
Kaspersky comes with three different paid plans in their product line below:
Kaspersky Antivirus – basic antivirus product for Windows that offers real-time and on-demand protection against viruses, spyware, and ransomware.
Kaspersky Internet Security – supports Mac and mobile against phishing scams and credit card theft cybercrimes.
Kaspersky Total Security – top of the range plan that includes bonus features such as password manager and parental control.
Kaspersky’s real-time protection is proven to be one of the best. Their scan runs constantly to check the system for anything that might hurt your computer. Once it detects any malware, the antivirus software immediately blocks and quarantines the malware from executing.
With the increase in cyber ransom cases, Kaspersky’s powerful anti-ransomware protection is well-engineered to protect users from such dangerous threats online. However, one thing to note is that users might run into some issues when running both the real-time and ransomware protection at the same time. It is best to temporarily pause the real-time scan while you run the ransomware protection.
Usually, the “Quick Scan” function in most antivirus software is not able to catch all the malware in the system as they’re designed to target certain areas only. The Kaspersky’s Quick Scan, on the other hand, was able to detect 100% of ransomware files with 0/2 false positives. This result is honestly on par with the best antivirus companies in the industry such as Norton, MacAfee, and Bitdefender.
While most antivirus scans will significantly impact a computer’s system to the point of being absolutely unusable, all of Kaspersky’s scans did not slow down any of the computer processes at all. Everything could still run at normal speeds with no issue at all.
Kaspersky’s excellent results prove that even quality services don’t necessarily need to come with a high price tag. What’s great about it is that Kaspersky includes its powerful ransomware protection across all their plans unlike certain antivirus companies like Panda, that only offer this protection to premium payers.
Kaspersky offers users Cloud Protection in aid with its battle against malware. The Cloud Protection is claimed to provide increased protection against harmful applications and websites. The software actually sends your computer data to Kaspersky’s labs for research and to improve their virus detection system.
However, to turn on Cloud Protection, users will need to be aware of certain privacy issues. For example, users must accept the Kaspersky Security Network agreement that explains what data will be collected by Kaspersky including:
- Websites you’ve visited
- Your computer’s unique ID number
- Applications installed on your device
The agreement also then goes on further to explain how you’re able to withdraw from such features although the explanation is not very clear. In any case, Kaspersky should try to make it easier for users to disable the Cloud Protection.
Currently, there is no option available for users to opt-out of the feature in the main software interface screen. Users are required to go to the Settings menu and opt-out under the Additional protection and management tools tab. Once you’re on the screen, you’ll be able to see a button to decline Kaspersky’s Network Security agreement.
However, Kaspersky warns users against turning off the Cloud Protection as the company claims the feature is required to support the application’s basic functionality. But this information is actually very misleading as the software works perfectly without the Cloud Protection feature.
In any case, the Cloud Protection does help the company to improve its product which will ultimately benefit all users. However, users who are concerned about their privacy may prefer to turn the Cloud Protection off.
Kaspersky’s Password Manager does not just help to store your login credentials, it can even help users generate strong passwords and automatically help users log into their online accounts.
Kaspersky Anti-Virus and Kaspersky Internet Security include a free version of the Password Manager which anyone can download freely from their website. However, this version lets users store up to 15 passwords only, making it quite practically useless as most users definitely have more than 15 passwords.
Kaspersky Total Security, on the other hand, includes Kaspersky Password Manager Premium that lets users store an unlimited number of passwords. Once you’ve set up your password manager, you’ll need to first establish a master password. Only then you can access your password vault where all your login details are securely encrypted in storage.
Other than passwords, you can also use the password vault to store important documents and payment information. Kaspersky’s Password Manager comes with a dedicated browse extension for Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and Internet Explorer.
The Firefox extension placed a green key icon next to the toolbar which would also appear on the login fields on the website pages. Users will then only need to click on the key icon and the Password Manager will automatically log them in.
When users key in new login details for the first time in a website, Kaspersky Password Manager will automatically detect it and store them in your password vault. The Kaspersky Password Manager even has a function to let users check the strength of their passwords.
Comparing with other password manager software available, Kaspersky Password Manager seems to function surprisingly well. It does not only look great, but it runs smoothly as well. The friendly user interface provides users with quick access to all the features via the sidebar. The layout is similar to another great password manager – 1Password.
However, one thing to note is that Kaspersky Password Manager does not offer as many advanced features as you would see on other password managers online. Some features include an automatic Password Changer, Dark Web Monitoring, Emergency Access, and secure password sharing, all of which are not available in Kaspersky.
While the Password Manager is a good addition, it is not worth the upgrade as you can find better and cheaper password managers on the market.
With the current technological advancement, there are more and more people who have started falling prey to financial cybercrime such as phishing, keylogging, and banking Trojan attempts. This is where Kaspersky’s Safe Money steps in to protect users from such cyber criminals.
Safe Money feature automatically detects when users are about to make an online payment or banking and checks to see if the links are secure. Kaspersky software has a Protect Browser feature that opens up a new browser window with a green glow around it. This browser has the extension and syncing functionality switched off for improved security.
The Protected Browser is able to run on any browser you may be using. Other competitors, on the other hand, uses a specialized browser, such as AVG’s Secure Browser. So, Safe Money’s convenient access earns extra points for this.
The Safe Money feature lets users key in payment information with Kaspersky’s On-Screen Keyboard to prevent keyloggers from recording keystrokes. This function is an easy method to help users avoid financial cybercrime. However, this feature is not available in the Kaspersky Antivirus, but it is a welcomed addition to the other two packages.
Secure Connection VPN
A virtual private network (VPN) works to provide users with a private internet connection through a secure network. For users who frequently access public WiFi networks, a VPN will help to keep your data safe from potential hackers. Another great thing about VPN is that it allows users to connect to servers from different parts of the world, potentially opening up access to geographically restricted content such as Netflix and BBC iPlayer.
The free version of the Kaspersky Secure Connection VPN is available in all three products of the antivirus range. However, even the most expensive Kaspersky antivirus plan does not provide automatic access to the premium version of Kaspersky Secure Connection.
The free version of Secure Connection only allows users 200 MB of data usage per day. This limit can be increased to 300 MB if you crease a free “My Kaspersky” account. This is also yet another classic example of how the antivirus company attempts to obtain user personal information.
Another big issue I have with the free version is that it does not allow users to select a virtual location. The software will automatically choose one for you. This is not great if users want to use it to unblock media content from specific locations in the world.
It is rather disappointing that the antivirus company does not include its premium Secure VPN with any of its plans. Other competitors are much more generous in this respect. For example, Panda limits VPN data on most of its plans except the Panda Dome Premium which provides users with unlimited data usage.
Aside from Kaspersky’s VPN data limitation, the Secure Connection functions perfectly. It is able to recognize an unsecured public WiFi network. Powered by one of the fastest VPN providers on the market – Anchorfree Hotspot Shield, it comes as no surprise that Kaspersky Secure Connection VPN offers amazing speeds.
If you currently do not own a VPN, the Kaspersky Secure Connection works as an ideal choice. However, it’s not worth paying extra for the upgrade. There are plenty of cheaper and better VPN alternatives on the market that users can opt for.
All operating systems and web browsers on your computer actually work to continuously track user activity records. While there are perfectly good reasons for such actions, it also means that it leaves users susceptible to attacks by hackers.
The Kaspersky Privacy Cleaner lets users delete any activity traces from their computer and fortunately, this feature is available on all their pricing plans. The Privacy Cleaner clears all browser history, temporary files folder, and prefetch cache on your computer that stores copies of previously viewed web pages for quicker access.
Other than that, the feature also helps to clear Microsoft Paint history. This function is particularly important if you tend to share your computer with others, but otherwise, it’s not something necessary.
Another cool feature that Privacy Cleaner has is that it gives users the option to roll back any previous changes that users may have accidentally made. This way users won’t need to worry about accidentally deleting or clearing off data that you may need.
Overall, the Privacy Cleaner offers users a great level of detail. While there is other antivirus software that includes similar features, they’re usually more focused on clearing browser data exclusively. This way is how Kaspersky goes one step ahead of their antivirus competitors.
Ease of Use
Kaspersky claims that their latest edition runs 15% faster than the older version with double the installation speed. This claim appears to be true with its very lightweight application. The scans run on the background without noticeably slowing down any computer processes.
However, there are some additional agreements that you can choose to opt-out for. For example, the Cloud Protection feature and marketing emails can be declined. Users need to be aware of how hungry Kaspersky seems to be to obtain personal data and you should stay reminded that you should not simply be accepting of all their agreements.
Once the installation is done, you will be greeted with Kaspersky’s pleasing and easy-to-use interface. The interface only shows users the features that are available to them, which is great news as users will not need to suffer through blacked-out features or upgrade prompts.
Overall, Kaspersky’s application is pretty well-designed and simple to navigate. This is one of the top antivirus software that is popular for its great interface and performance.
If you encounter any issues, Kaspersky offers many modes of contact to support its customers, which include:
- Live Chat
- Social Media
- Community Forums
This is a pretty extensive range of support options. However, the FAQs are very poorly organized, which makes it very difficult to find the answers you’re looking for. Their email support seems to also be a bit slow with feedbacks taking longer than a week. As for their live chat, it is handled by a friendly and polite agent, but they offered to email a solution instead of providing step-by-step real-time support.
While Kaspersky has spent a lot of time to provide users with a wide range of customer support. However, their FAQs section is a mess and the email support is definitely less than ideal with a very slow response rate.
Plans and Pricing
Kaspersky’s product range can get somewhat confusing. Two main products are designed for home users, which will be labeled as “Internet Security” and “Security Cloud” packages for this article.
The Kaspersky’s “Internet Security” product plans are as follows:
- Kaspersky Antivirus
- Kaspersky Internet Security
- Kaspersky Total Security
The premium features are available on all annual subscription of Kaspersky product with different price points for 1, 3, or 5 devices. For more than 5 devices, you’ll need to contact Kaspersky directly to get more info.
Kaspersky does not come with any free product. The previously Kaspersky Anti-Virus Free plan has been recently repackaged as the Kaspersky Security Cloud Free. While it does not offer the most comprehensive features available, it is free, so there’s nothing much to complain about.
This is Kaspersky’s most basic plan that is designed to protect Windows PC only. The features included are:
- Real-time protection against viruses, ransomware, and spyware
- Quick, full, custom, and scheduled scans
- On-Screen Keyboard
- Cloud Protection
- Privacy Cleaner
- Vulnerability Scan to detect security weaknesses
- Rescue Disk functions as a convenient antivirus application on a USD device
- Microsoft Windows Troubleshooting
- Password Manager Free
- Secure Connection VPN
The Kaspersky Antivirus is an excellent basic package for users who want a lightweight, easy-to-use antivirus protection plan for their Windows device.
Kaspersky Internet Security
This plan is designed to include additional support for Mac users and also offers premium access to the Kaspersky Antivirus Android app. This plan includes the features available in Kaspersky Antivirus plus more:
- Safe Money
- Webcam Protection
- Private Browsing extension to block ads and track cookies
- Advanced Anti-Phishing Protection that is integrated with your browser to identify suspicious links and search results
These extra features work to protect users against online privacy threats. It is effective against phishing, spyware, and other intrusive tracking malware that most internet users are generally vulnerable to.
Kaspersky’s Anti-Spam feature sends incoming mail to Kaspersky’s servers to test and figure out whether it is a spam email. This function is turned off by default for EU users due to privacy laws that the company has to abide to.
The Anti-Spam feature significantly slows things down in Microsoft Outlook. However, these types of features are not necessary anymore as most email providers come with pretty decent tools to automatically filter out spam emails from your inbox.
The Kaspersky Internet Security is only a small price increase from the basic plan, but it does include some very important features. This is a particularly good option for users who frequently shop online or carry out bank transfers.
Kaspersky Total Security
The Kaspersky Total Security is the top-tiered paid plan which has all the features in the previous two plans with some extra:
- Safe Kids Premium that blocks adult content, keep track of kids’ internet use and even lets you locate them via GPS
- Password Manager Premium for unlimited password storage
- Backup & Restore with 2 GB Dropbox storage
- Data Encryption in a secure storage area on your hard drive (Windows only)
While these features sound amazing, they are really worth nothing and it is unfortunate that Kaspersky feels that these extras should be in the highest-priced plan. To take an example, the Backup & Restore is just a standard 2 GB Dropbox account with a Kaspersky’s interface.
In fact, Dropbox gives free 2 GB storage to every user, and it is a little bit insulting for Kaspersky to put this in their most expensive plan. In comparison, Norton 360 Premium offers its users with a massive 75 GB of storage.
The Data Encryption also works no differently from the typical “Encrypted File Service” that Windows 10 has. So, the only remaining features are the Password Manager and Safe Kids that are pretty good, but you can also get either of them as cheaper standalone products anyway.
Overall, the best value one is the Kaspersky Internet Security. While the Total Security offers extras, the add-ons are not really worth the upgrade.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can Kaspersky work to detect and remove ransomware?
Yes, Kaspersky antivirus has features to detect and remove ransomware from your device. Fortunately, Kaspersky regularly updates their ransomware database to ensure their customers are covered against the latest types of threat.
Can Kaspersky block phishing sites?
Kaspersky’s Internet Security and Total Security packages can help users to block phishing sites. The software protects users from malicious websites and phishing links by thoroughly scanning all emails and links.
Does Kaspersky protect mobile devices?
Yes, Kaspersky can protect mobile devices with its wide range of mobile apps for both Android and iOS devices. These apps include a virus scanner, VPN, password manager, and even parental controls.
As a Master Degree graduate in the Internet Technology field, Stefan is highly dedicated towards improving the overall web security so internet users can browse freely without having to be afraid of technical loopholes. With over 15 years in the internet security industry, you should definitely take his advice seriously.