Kaspersky Internet Security review: A great security package for advanced users
Kaspersky has received plenty of plaudits over the years and this latest release sticks closely to the winning formula. We’re well accustomed to seeing this security suite rack up top marks in anti-malware tests, and in the latest independent tests it once again did just that. Combined with plentiful features and a level of control that enthusiasts will love, this is a package you will not regret installing.
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Kaspersky Internet Security review: What do you get for the money?
In addition to perfect protection (see below) there’s a good spread of additional security features. The “Safe Money” function cleverly takes the friction out of secure browsing, by automatically detecting when you click on a shopping or banking site and opening the link in a specially sandboxed browser window. An extension for Chrome, Edge and Firefox also warns you when sites try to harvest your data or track your activity, while a secure on-screen keyboard can be used to enter credentials, defeating any keyloggers that might somehow have slipped through the net.
Software management is well covered too. An automatic software updater tool finds and flags any outdated applications that might lack the latest security patches, while the vulnerability scanner takes a different tack and hunts through your programs and OS specifically looking for exploitable flaws. A separate Application Control window provides pleasing transparency into how Kaspersky has ranked your installed programs into different trust categories, and makes it easy to make tweaks if you want to (for example) boost the rating of a custom application.
Additionally, there’s a few clean-up features that can clear out old applications or leftover logs and caches that might contain personal data, plus a built-in rescue disk builder that could save the day if a rootkit manages to get its claws deep into your system. Although it’s buried away in the settings, the application even includes a custom firewall, with a clean interface that’s easier to configure than the standard Windows one. Would-be sysadmins will love the network monitor tool, too, which exposes all the details of what your various applications and processes are doing online; see something you don’t like, and you can block it with two clicks.
It’s complemented by a decent reports module, which brings together extensive logs from the program’s various modules, and offers search and filter options to help you zero in on specific events, items or timescales.
Kaspersky Internet Security review: How much does it cost?
In short, Kaspersky provides a great breadth of security coverage and intelligence – and for what you get, it’s absurdly affordable. A single-PC licence can be had from Amazon for a piffling GBP12.72, equivalent to GBP1.06 per month, and the three-device package is even better value at just under GBP20 for the year. Just remember to cancel and re-enlist when your year is up: if you let your subscription roll over automatically, the renewal fee shoots up to GBP35 for a single device, or GBP45 for three.
That’s a slightly sneaky trick, and Kaspersky is also guilty of the sort of in-product marketing we wouldn’t normally expect from a paid-for security suite. Occasional promotional messages are enabled by default – you have to delve into the settings to disable them – and taster editions of entire other products come bundled into the package. In particular, we’re not delighted about the big button for the Safe Kids parental control module.
This sits front and centre in the Kaspersky Internet Security interface, but clicking it only activates the cut-down, free edition of the service. Similarly, the installer drops icons onto your desktop for Kaspersky’s Secure Connection VPN and Password Manager services, but these again are just the free editions that anyone can download. To get the full parental control and password manager features, you need to move up to the pricier Total Security package – or sign up for costly additional subscriptions.
Kaspersky Internet Security review: How good is protection and performance?
As I’ve already mentioned, Kaspersky scored 100% in AV-Comparatives tests for protection but it didn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, racking up a mere two false positives along the way.
That’s not quite as forensically perfect as Eset or F-Secure (our favourite overall security suite), but it’s still sharper than most. Perhaps most encouragingly, Kaspersky did all this with an exceptionally nimble touch, achieving an overall system performance score of 92.4%. When tasked with scanning our external hard disk full of test files, it whipped through the full 55GB in barely more than a minute and a half, silently quarantining the EICAR test file as it went.
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Kaspersky Internet Security review: Should you buy it?
Kaspersky isn’t perfect, then, this doesn’t detract from the package as a whole.
It combines excellent protection, with plenty of additional features and numerous dimensions of protection, plus enough technical depth to satisfy power users and a modest impact on system performance.
Yes, the creeping upsell is distasteful but the promotional aspects of the package are easy enough to overlook, especially when the price is so low.