Looking for a safe and reliable antivirus? Then you’ve probably come across Kaspersky already. And it’s no wonder, they are the biggest name on the antivirus market and have been for more than 20 years. Designed by Kaspersky Lab in St.Petersburg, Russia, it quickly won user recognition for its real-time scanning, detection, and removal of viruses. But technology has significantly evolved since 1997 and unfortunately, so did malicious software. That brings up a good question: is Kaspersky still the one to help you sleep at night knowing that your data is safe?
In this review, we made it our mission to find out how Kaspersky still performs, and dissect all of its features to find if there are any bottlenecks.
Kaspersky Antivirus Overview
There is no doubt that Kaspersky Lab today is one of the largest cybersecurity companies in the world. It operates in more than 200 countries and territories and employs more than 4000 people. Kaspersky North America runs out of Massachusetts and was founded in 2004. Currently, Kaspersky protects more than 400M private and corporate clients worldwide.
One thing we have learned about online security and privacy products is that neither the size of a company nor its long history defines how good of a product they provide. It’s not easy to pick the right antivirus since there’s no straightforward recipe, but you can read reviews, analyze the lab results done by independent experts, and then make an informed decision.
When it comes to Kaspersky, the majority of experts say that it is as good as it gets. Namely, it earned top marks in nearly every test available. It includes tons of essential features and seems to be a good option to protect your devices and doesn’t seem to hurt your computer’s productivity.
However, there was a series of scandals around Kaspersky over the past few years, so many users don’t feel comfortable trusting the company with their data. The US government accused Kaspersky of espionage, and the company eventually was banned from providing services to the US federal institutions. The company’s owner, Eugene Kaspersky, has been adamant that his company has never had anything to do with Russian security activities and launched a ‘global transparency initiative.’ Basically, they have invited a third party to assess every single feature, security practice, and aspect of their company and product to prove the US government wrong and win users’ trust back. More incidents occurred, but Eugene said they became victims of a hack attack and had never deliberately sold their users’ data. This just shows you that you can’t be 100% safe online even if you’re using the best antivirus. As of today, the company is moving its processing activities to Switzerland and has opened five “transparency centers” in multiple countries, including Canada, where Kaspersky partners can review its source code and data processing practices.
With all that being said, we still believe that Kaspersky is a decent option, and we will dive deeper into the why in a second.
Kaspersky Security Features
As all antiviruses do, Kaspersky uses a virus database to detect known viruses on your device. Simply put, it compares the files and apps on your computer to those determined as harmful and lets you know if there’s a match and quarantines those files until further notice. That’s standard procedure for all antivirus products, and Kaspersky excels at it because its database is up-to-date, meaning it contains more viruses and therefore can detect more of those on your device.
But more viruses are being created even as you read this article. Does this mean that if a virus wasn’t caught before, your antivirus wouldn’t catch it? Not with Kaspersky. Essentially, they harness the power of cloud-based machine learning to detect a potentially malicious piece of software even if it doesn’t exist in a database yet. ML gives Kaspersky a tremendous competitive advantage against other market players. Besides, it processes all the data in the cloud, meaning that it doesn’t significantly slow down your device.
Another exciting feature is real-time Protection. Normally, a virus can only be detected and quarantined after it was installed on the device. But this feature prevents malicious software from being installed on your computer in the first place. It’s actually one of the best things antivirus can do for your laptop since malicious apps and files can cause some damage in between scheduled scans, and with real-time Protection, they have a lot fewer chances to get to your computer.
Other top-tier antivirus vendors like McAfee, Bitdefender, and Norton also combine machine learning and signature databases to detect viruses. And much like them, Kaspersky provides great malware detection. It has caught 100% of known malware during multiple tests.
Kaspersky offers 5 different types of scans that you can run:
- If you’re doing a scan for the first time and at least once a month, it’s recommended to go to Full Scan. It scans your entire computer and takes a considerable amount of time.
- When you don’t have the luxury to run a full scan, you can put your computer through a Quick Scan. This type of scan checks the most important folders like system memory, drive boot sectors and startup objects.
- If there are other folders or apps that you feel or know can be vulnerable, but you still have no time for a Full scan, you can set up a Selective Scan, where you manually select folders you want to be monitored.
- Another good thing about Kaspersky is that it has an option for scanning any connected external devices.
- The final one is a Vulnerability Scan. This one scans operating systems and apps that are typically exploited by malware.
What other special Features Does Kaspersky Offer?
*Features listed below are not included with every plan. To understand the differences between various packages, please go to our *Packages* Section.
- Malware Protection – as you have read in the previous section, Kaspersky provides advanced scanning techniques and considerable research has confirmed that Kasprsky detects 100% of known viruses. On top of that, it is proven to give exact results with minimal to no false positives. However, this only applies to Windows threats and the base level of Protection is only available for Windows-based devices. Kaspersky offers a separate line of products for macOS-related threats.
- Safe Money – Included with Kaspersky Internet Security and Total Security plans. This feature is designed to protect your secure sensitive information identity while making online payments. Every time you try to make a payment, Kaspersky will launch a separate browser that is more secure than your regular browser. It checks the payment page against a constantly updating trusted list. This short couple of seconds can save you from making payments to ever-growing spoofing websites and malicious individuals. Safe Money also checks if your connection and PC environment is secure.
- Password Manager – Full access to this feature is only available with the Kaspersky Total Security and allows you to store an unlimited amount of passwords behind a master password. Of course, you can come up with different passwords for every single account you own, but what are the odds that you’ll remember them all? Kaspersky offers extensions for all popular browsers, so you can easily autofill your passwords from the vault without worrying about them being stolen.
- Privacy Protection – This feature helps to maintain your privacy online in multiple ways. Firstly, it alerts you every time someone tries to collect your data, so it’s your decision if you want to let them do it or not. Secondly, it includes an intelligent ad-blocker. Unlike other ad-blockers, this one blocks only those ads that will not prevent a site from uploading, and you still will be able to enjoy its content.
- Kids’ Protection is only included with the most expensive plan. It provides multiple tools to keep your kids and data safe. Kaspersky even allows you to track your kids’ smartphones with the help of GPS. And, of course, blocks age-sensitive content and inappropriate sites; includes social media monitoring, YouTube blocking, search control, and other app monitoring.
- Virtual Private Network is powered by Hotspot Shield and doesn’t intend to compete with leading VPNs since it provides a limited amount of servers and only 200MB of traffic per day. But, it gets the job done if you need to access, say, some geographically restricted content or to make sure your IP is hidden from prying eyes.
- Ransomware Protection: Unfortunately, this type of Trojan easily penetrates devices and is harder to be spotted than other types of malware. That’s why to protect yourself from becoming a victim of this threat, you need to own an antivirus that uses a multi-layered protection model. Kaspersky fights ransomware both on the delivery and execution stages of an attack. What does this mean? The delivery stage of an attack is when the ransomware is first introduced to the device, e.g., via archives with executable scripts in spam emails or malicious macros in attachments. Unlike other, less advanced options, Kaspersky analyses the entire email, including attachments. Another common way how ransomware gets into computers is through app vulnerabilities. Most ransomware can be detected and neutralized at this stage. However, there are more advanced and ‘creative’ ways on how to bypass static detection. And that’s where Behavioral Detection comes to play. It’s the last chance to detect harmful ransomware before it paralyzes your device. The good news is it’s also Kaspersky’s most potent weapon in the fight against ransomware. Behavior Engine blocks the process and rollbacks the changes with Remediation Engine at the execution stage. It is efficient even against yet unknown ransomware pieces. A good example of successful detection of an unknown threat is the 2017 ransomware ExPetr.
- Anti-phishing tools: Phishing is a pretty simple way to lure users into giving up their passwords and other sensitive data. This fraudulent activity is usually committed through emails. Phishing emails look like one from a well-known and trusted company. But, instead of bringing you information, it leads you to questionable links and websites, all with one goal – to get as much information as they possibly can. Kaspersky scans your emails against a database of phishing websites and a database of phishing addresses which are regularly updated. On top of that, Kaspersky utilizes heuristic algorithms and Kaspersky Security Network (Cloud Service that lets Kaspersky react to the newest threats ASAP) to detect elements that don’t act typical and can be potentially harmful but haven’t been added to databases yet. The combination of traditional and Machine Learning tools makes Kaspersky a great anti-phishing solution.
- Spyware Protection: Today, even huge companies like Facebook and Google have been accused of spying on their users and collecting way too much information about our online habits and likings. And while the giants and lawyers debate over where to draw the line between tracking your habits to offer better, personalized services and straight-up manipulating you, smaller and not so helpful companies keep planting Spyware on your computers. This type of malicious software tends to sell your online activity history to ad agencies. That’s not the only reason why Spyware may be planted, but the most common one. Some other reasons include scarier things like identity theft. Technically, Spyware is just another type of malware, so Kaspersky uses the same techniques to detect and remove this kind. Kaspersky’s Security solution combines an on-premise agent with cloud-based protection to offer complete, effective ransomware protection for small offices and businesses.
Laboratory test results
We took the tests from independent ISO 9001:2015 certified organization AV-Comparatives who runs rigorous lab testing on antivirus software for more than 15 years. They named Kaspersky the product of the year 2020 and 6 years before that. You can read the full report here.
AV-Comparatives Overall Ranking of Antivirus Products 2020 Key: * = Standard, ** = Advanced, *** = Advanced+
Let’s see how Kaspersky performed against the competition in different categories:
Real-World Protection Test
We think it’s one of the most useful tests that help to determine whether antivirus is capable of getting things done. AV-Comparatives won tons of awards on their methodology of testing security software because the way they put software to the test is the closest to real-life conditions. This test focuses on the risks associated with online activities – threats distributed via the Internet. It lets a virus go through all the stages of the life cycle from being downloaded to being executed because antivirus products have a huge arsenal of tools to fight rogue software on various stages and if something wasn’t caught before penetrating your computer, it very well can be later.
As you can see, Kaspersky performed very well in this test, it detected 732 out of 736 test cases. Even though it seems like it’s not the highest result, it really is a remarkable result. The test cases were carefully selected to introduce the biggest variety of threats possible and a 99.5% success rate is outstanding. It’s also critical not to make your purchase decision based only on one test result because there’re too many factors that come to play. Say, your antivirus is going to be good at detecting malicious software, but will it slow down your computer to the point where you can’t work on it? What’s important – Kaspersky provides great results with hardly any false positive detections.
Malware Protection Test
This type of test shows how good a product can protect your device against malicious software injected by USB, network drives, and other sources where the software is already on the disc (the threat isn’t coming from the Web).
The test set used for this test consisted of 10,013 malware samples, assembled after consulting telemetry data with the aim of including recent, prevalent samples that are endangering users in the field. Malware variants were clustered, in order to build a more representative test-set (i.e. to avoid over-representation of the very same malware in the set). The sample collection process was stopped at the end of February 2021. All products were installed on a fully up-to-date 64-Bit Microsoft Windows 10 system. Products were tested at the beginning of March with default settings and using their latest updates.
Many providers, including Kaspersky, tested by the lab use cloud technologies to detect and disarm malicious software, but it’s important to understand that they are only able to utilize cloud computing resources when there’s an active Internet connection and the provider’s cloud is reachable. That’s why you can see two columns – offline and online detection rate.
AV-Comparatives took an additional step and measured not only the detection, but also the protection capabilities of each product. Sometimes, it’s virtually impossible to recognize a malicious file when it’s inactive. In most cases, solid antivirus will recognize it upon execution anyways. But sometimes, it can be too late and a virus will already have made some changes to the computer. The protection rate shows how good (or bad) antivirus products prevent viruses from making changes to the computer. Kaspersky got great results in this category. Kaspersky’s false positive detection score is the best compared to all other tested products. This is important because you don’t want to constantly struggle with your favorite apps being blocked because your antivirus made a mistake.
All programs that run in the background slow down your computer. Antivirus isn’t an exception if it’s providing real-time protection. This factor prevents many users from installing it in the first place. Kaspersky constantly wins the highest possible performance scores in independent testings from reputable labs.
Kaspersky has one of the lowest system impact rates, which is great. You can easily run it all the time without being worried about it slowing down your computer.
Does Kaspersky Have Any Holes in its Security?
When it comes to security holes with Kaspersky, all we have are rumors. Allegedly in 2019, vulnerabilities in its software that exposed its application programming interface to abuse by websites were found. Cybersecurity researcher Wladimir Palant found this specific vulnerability in other antivirus providers’ software as well. These claims were denied by Kaspersky Lab. But the truth is that Kaspersky provides best-in-class protection, according to multiple respected analytical agencies and researchers. It doesn’t mean that your devices will get unbreakable with it since there is no such thing, but with Kaspersky, you can secure your data to the greatest extent possible.
Kaspersky Pros and Cons
- Exceptional malware protection
- Password Manager and advanced parental control options
- Light to moderate system impact
- 24/7 Customer support, including hotline
- Database and Machine Learning detection techniques
We don’t like:
- Limited features on the basic plan
- Limited VPN
- The lowest-priced plan is for Windows only.
Kaspersky: Packages and Pricing
First off, Kaspersky offers a free product that provides basic protection for your devices. It will protect you from common threats found in Kaspersky’s virus database and warns you about suspicious activities. It offers great malware protection without slowing down your computer much. At the same time, it lacks some features like defense against UEFI penetration of the system’s startup program.
When it comes to paid packages, there are three main options for home protection:
- Kaspersky Antivirus Plan’s is $39.99 per user per year and right now, new customers can get it for $15.99. It includes all the essential features like:
- Protection against viruses, malware, ransomware and more;
- Operates in the cloud, meaning it doesn’t slow down your computer;
- Simple to manage and customize.
Unfortunately, this plan is only available for Windows-based computers.
- Kaspersky’s Internet Security includes all of Antivirus Plans features and:
- Available for Macs, mobile devices, PCs in any combination.
- Includes advanced privacy features like preventing webcam hijacks and phishing activities.
- Launches the secure browser to ensure the security of online payments.
Its standard price is $79.99, but right now, you can purchase it for $31.99. It protects up to 3 devices for that price for a year.
- Total Security is the most expensive and most advanced plan for home security. Apart from all Internet Security features, it also gives you:
- Safe Kids feature: Advanced Parental Control Features including GPS tracking of kids’ cell phones and online activity monitoring tools.
- Password Manager: safe and easy way to save all your credentials to unlimited websites and apps.
- Files Backup: Creates backups of your pictures, music and other files on your PC.
The Total Security plan is available at $99.99 for up to 5 devices for repetitive customers and $39.99/year for the new ones.
If you’re looking for a cybersecurity solution for your business, check out their Business Security Suite, which Gartner Analytical Agency recognized as one of the best in the market many years in a row. They have plans available for Small, Medium and Enterprise size businesses available.
What payment options are available with Kaspersky Antivirus?
Currently, Kaspersky lets you pay with a credit card and through PayPal. Cryptocurrency payments aren’t yet available. It also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, so if you’re not happy with their services or simply want to try them out – it’s risk-free.
Is Kaspersky Slowing Down Your Computer?
Every Antivirus slows down your computer by default since it needs computing power to detect and fight viruses. But, 21st century brings new perks, and Cloud computing is here. That’s why all distinctive Cybersecurity players try to move as much of their computing there as they can. Kaspersky isn’t an exception. It means that instead of using your internal RAM, it takes all the processing to a bigger, more powerful processor and doesn’t eat up your device’s performance.
Remember that if you don’t have a high-quality antivirus installed, you can experience slower performance due to malware presence on your computer.
OK, but users continuously complain about Kaspersky slowing down their computers, you might say. Well, there might be tins of reasons why their computers slow down. Here are some of the most common reasons the performance might not be the greatest:
- Your laptop is too cluttered.
- You have too many apps launching at the startup.
- Scanning for viruses runs when you do something RAM-consuming, like playing games.
- Your computer isn’t updated or optimized. When you made sure that your device is uncluttered, try defragmenting your discs and updating to the latest Windows version.
Another great piece of advice on how to speed up the performance is to enable battery saving and gaming mode. If you know that you need some additional boost, go ahead and turn those modes on. That way, Kaspersky will keep essential scanning on without using up too much memory.
Is it as good for Mac as it is for Windows?
Kaspersky for Mac excels at lab tests and offers pretty much the same features as Windows versions do, e.g., parental control, privacy protection, and much more.
However, Mac’s version has some downfalls. For example, Safe Money and webcam protection are limited compared to the Windows version. Safe Kids and VPN require additional subscriptions for full functionality, and antiphishing tests aren’t as impressive as Windows version ones.
With that being said, Kaspersky still provides all the essential features needed to protect your MacBook, like scanning for existing malware and preventing any future malware attacks. Besides, Kaspersky provides limited VPN and privacy-protection tools, making it a decent option for macOS lovers.
You can protect one Mac device for one year for $15.99 as a new user.
Does Kaspersky support mobile devices?
Yes, it does. Kaspersky has an Android app that you can upload from Play Market. User Interface can be a bit confusing, but the app offers great protection against malware. AV-Test Institute that tests various antivirus software gave Kaspersky the highest scores for their malware detection and impact on device performance on their latest review.
Android version doesn’t have a Wi-Fi network scanner, and it doesn’t automatically scan the new apps. Also, the URL filter is limited to Chrome.
Most antivirus products offer some kind of protection to iOS devices, but their functions are limited because of the closed nature of Apple OS.
What about the Kaspersky technical and customer support?
The Kaspersky customer support center can be found at support.kaspersky.com. Their support options include a knowledge base, email form, chat option. You can also reach out to them by calling 1 (781) 503-1820 24/7.
Do we recommend it?
Yes, we do. Even though Kaspersky isn’t the cheapest option, it provides top-notch security and privacy features and utilizes the latest technologies like Machine Learning along with traditional database methods to detect and eliminate viruses, Trojans, ransomware and other malicious software. Kaspersky also provides good and accessible customer support and apps for most devices out there. We like that it doesn’t eat up too much memory, hence doesn’t slow down your computer’s performance. Overall, it’s one of the best options on the market, and you won’t regret purchasing it for your business or personal use.
What are the best alternatives to Kaspersky antivirus?
McAfee antivirus is the all-in-one security service that protects your PC, Mac, and mobile devices. With the world’s most potent antivirus engine, security for your identity, and private browsing, you can relax knowing you’re protected from identity theft, online threats, and fraudulent websites.
Microsoft Defender Antivirus has been just as good as the high-priced antivirus software. It does a great job protecting you from viruses and malware and doesn’t hog your computer’s memory or processor like most competing free antivirus programs.
Microsoft Defender Antivirus works with Windows to help guard against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software. It goes beyond basic protection to proactively detect and block threats, scanning 100% of your downloads in real-time before they reach your computer. And it won’t slow down your PC like some competing free antivirus solutions. When you have Microsoft Defender Antivirus, you – and your computer – are protected.
Bitdefender Antivirus has been one of the most influential and famous antivirus software on the market for years. Fast, lightweight, and incredibly user-friendly, Bitdefender Antivirus provides excellent detection rates at a price that won’t break the bank.
With results three times better than Norton and McAfee in independent tests, Bitdefender is an excellent choice for just about any computer antivirus needs.
Bitdefender’s user base proves its software is effective. Bitdefender’s scanner is so lightweight that it won’t slow down your computer, and it corrects low-level system mistakes that could otherwise be exploited to allow malware in.
With up-to-date malware definitions, the complete security suite, and a user-friendly interface, you can rest assured your computer will be safe from most threats.
If you don’t go to tricky websites. Do you still need to get Antivirus?
Yes, you will need an antivirus even if you don’t visit the tricky websites. Advances in viruses, spyware, and other malicious code are forcing people to incorporate protection into every aspect of their operations and they can come from anywhere.
The cost of virus infection and its aftermath can be huge—it can shut down your system, wipe out crucial data, delay deliveries and shipments, interrupt online transactions with customers, and damage your reputation. This guide explains how to lay the groundwork for an effective anti-virus program.
Frequently Asked Questions about Kaspersky antivirus
Is Kaspersky actually legitimate or just another antivirus scam?
Kaspersky is the world's most comprehensive antivirus with over 400 million customers in more than 200 countries. You can choose between the classical Kaspersky Internet Security and the Kaspersky Antivirus package.
Both of them can be installed on one device and protect your PC from viruses, attacks, and spam, as well as from other internet threats such as phishing, identity theft, adware, or even ransomware.
Does Kaspersky have a free version?
Kaspersky is a free antivirus program for Windows PCs. However, if you're concerned about protecting hundreds or thousands of computers, you need full access to expert support and system-management tools that allow you to manage those resources remotely.
Kaspersky antivirus, designed for businesses and other organizations that use the Windows platform, provides that level of functionality.
How good is Kaspersky antivirus for Android?
Do you need to install Kaspersky on your Apple products?
These include a built-in VPN that offers to activate itself when it finds the connection is insecure, notifications about relevant incidents, and a tool for checking if your system is secure. Its accurate antivirus engine is an Android app that you'll need to download separately.
What is Kaspersky Antivirus scan, and what it does, specifically?
Kaspersky gives the most comprehensive protection against viruses, trojans, worms, and other malware. It boasts a 99% detection rate and can scan files on your computer and emails coming from any server. In addition, you can conduct comprehensive system scans and schedule them as frequently as you want.
How can you remove Kaspersky Antivirus from your PC?
1) Open Control Panel and for that, click on the Start menu, type Control Panel in the search bar, and thereafter, hit the Enter key.
2) In this window, you will get a few applications, click on the “Uninstall a program” option given below the Programs section.
3) Next, you will find a list of installed applications on your computer; navigate for Kaspersky Total Security & Kaspersky VPN, One by one.
4) After selecting each, you need to click on the Uninstall button located at the top of the window menu.
5) Now accept the confirmation to uninstall the application and wait for a few minutes. After finishing the process, it is recommended to restart your device to completely remove Kaspersky.