Kaspersky Anti-Virus review: is it safe to use?
Kaspersky Anti-Virus has enjoyed two decades of robust competition in the cybersecurity space. It might be quite user-friendly, and it might be quite popular. However, the reputation and the security ties of the company are much more important than bells and whistles of an antivirus app. Let's not beat around the bush here – Kaspersky is in bad company.
The Russian-owned company has been reported to be in communication with Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) and is responsible for providing them with real-time intelligence and identifying data of customers’ computers. Plus, the domain of the Russian Ministry of Defense is hosted in Kaspersky's infrastructure, and Eugene Kaspersky, the owner of the company, has recently refused to condemn the Russian army's cruel and unlawful military actions in Ukraine.
With that in mind, many users might have a serious problem using any products with such a connection – let alone a personal cybersecurity product.
So is Kaspersky safe to use? Is it worth overlooking the scandals and the cruelty – especially when there are much more trustworthy antivirus providers, such as Bitdefender, available?
Let's have a look what's under the hood of this antivirus provider.
|🥇 Overall rank:||-|
|💵 Price:||from $29.99/year|
|✂️ Free version:||Yes|
|🖥️ Platforms:||Windows, Mac, Android, iOS|
|🔥 Coupons:||Cybernews Antivirus Coupons|
Kaspersky antivirus pros and cons
- Database regularly updated with the latest threats and viruses
- Little impact on memory and system performance
- System optimization available
- TDSKILLER looks for bootkits and rootkits
- 24/7 phone, chat, and email support
- On the higher end of the pricing scale
- Unremarkable features in higher-priced plans
- Lowest-priced plan is for Windows only
- Low brand trust due to 2017 scandal
- Connections with Russia's secret services
Kaspersky security features
While Kaspersky's reputation and ties with Russian secret services can give a lot of doubt about the company, the product itself claims to be seriously good. Of course, as with any paid service, the actual set of available features will heavily depend on the pricing plan you'll pick up. This means that it could range from basic virus and malware protection to an extensive suite with many additional tools.
Let's take a look at some of the features Kaspersky provides.
Kaspersky’s malware scanner has been tested as recently as fall of 2020 by major testing labs. It performed extremely well, capturing 100% of zero-day malware and 100% of widespread malware, with fewer false positives than a close competitor Norton.
SE Labs in London confirmed that this 100% record resulted from blocking the malware from being installed, rather than dismantling it once it had been installed. Only Trend Micro had a similarly perfect record, while top products like Norton and Microsoft allowed a few pieces of malware to be installed before neutralizing them.
Note that Kaspersky malware protection only applies to threats to Windows, which is why the base level of Kaspersky Anti-Virus only offers protection to computers running Windows.
A premium feature of Kaspersky Internet Security and Kaspersky Total Security, Safe Money makes it easy to protect your identity and secure sensitive information when making an online payment.
It does this by launching a separate web browser for the transactions to take place. This browser is more secure than your average browser. It automatically checks the payment page against Kaspersky’s constantly-updated “trusted site” list.
Safe Money also checks the security of your connection and scans your PC environment for threats that could imperil the transaction.
Many users buy online with barely a second thought, but payment transactions on popular web browsers do get targeted for cybercrime. Sending money over a secured browser like Kaspersky Safe Money is not unreasonably paranoid.
Kaspersky Total Security, the highest-priced plan, includes the full version of Kaspersky Password manager, allowing you to store unlimited passwords and vaults behind a master password.
Most Internet users have many password-protected accounts, and Internet security specialists recommend using a different gibberish password for every account. Since most people can’t memorize that many random strings of characters, password managers are an increasingly essential component of web browsing.
Kaspersky has developed a browser extension for Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Mozilla Firefox. When you install the browser extension and activate it with your master password, you can autofill passwords from your vault whenever you visit the relevant site on that browser.
A premium feature of Kaspersky Internet Security and Kaspersky Total Security, Privacy Protection guards your browsing activities in a number of ways.
By default, Privacy Protection alerts you of attempts to collect your data – the way Facebook creepily knows what you have in your cart on Amazon and markets it to you, for example. The feature can also be armed to block data collection if you prefer to browse privately and not have your browsing history harvested for marketing.
Privacy Protection includes an intelligent ad blocker that doesn’t block ads when doing so would disable the website, as is the case with many banner ads.
Privacy Protection also includes a setting to block external access to your webcam by Peeping Toms. Note that popular apps like Zoom and Loom require access to your webcam, but these domains can be added to a “safe” list to selectively enable access to the webcam.
Protection for kids
A feature of the highest-priced plan Kaspersky Total Security, the premium version of Kaspersky Safe Kids includes a GPS monitor to track the location of your kids’ smartphones. On the devices themselves, it blocks inappropriate content, text and call screening, social-network monitoring, YouTube blocking, YouTube search alerts, and app usage controls.
Safe Kids was not designed for iOS and doesn’t work as well on an iOS device as it does on Android.
Secure connection VPN
A premium feature of Kaspersky Internet Security and Kaspersky Total Security, Kaspersky Secure Connection VPN is easy to use and adequate as a basic VPN. Powered by Hotspot Shield, it offers a smaller range of locations compared to more competitive virtual private networks.
Plans and pricing
|Anti-Virus||Malware protection, ransomware blockers,||$29.99|
|Internet Security||Malware protection, Privacy Protector, Safe Money||$39.99|
|Total Security||Malware protection, Privacy Protector, Safe Money, Safe Kids mode, password manager, file protection||$44.99|
Kaspersky Anti-Virus plan
Kaspersky Anti-Virus for PC has a base price of $29.99 to protect up to three PCs for one year, $59.99 for two years, and $89.99 for three years.
If you want to protect up to five PCs, you can do so at $39.99 for one year, $79.99 for two years, or $119.99 for three years.
The package includes virus, malware, and ransomware blockers.
Kaspersky Internet Security plan
Available for Windows, macOS, or Android, Kaspersky Internet Security has an annual base price of $39.99 for up to three devices, $79.99 for two years, and $119.99 for three years.
For up to five devices, you will have to spend $44.99 for one year, $89.99 for two years, or $134.99 for three years.
Kaspersky Internet Security includes the same virus, malware, and ransomware blockers, but adds more features.
Kaspersky Total Security plan
Kaspersky Total Security, available for Windows, macOS, iOS, or Android, is $44.99 for three devices annually, $89.99 for two years, and $134.99 for three years.
Protecting up to ten devices with Total Security will set you back $74.99 for one year, $149.99 for two years, or $224.99 for three years.
Ease of use and setup
Kaspersky Anti-Virus is easy to install. Once you select and purchase your plan, a download link gives you access to the installer file. It walks you through a total of four screens. You have the option to participate in the Kaspersky Security Network (KSN) and the option to install recommended settings.
Once installed, Kaspersky offers an intuitive, visually-appealing control panel with available features laid out as convenient tiles. Most features are available with one click, but if a feature is not available with your plan, you may be prompted to upgrade. A gear icon in the bottom left allows you to access settings.
A computer screen registers a green checkmark or a red “x” to tell you if your computer is protected or not protected, and recommended actions are accessible via a Details button. It takes just a few minutes a day to square away your device with Kaspersky Anti-Virus, Internet Security, or Total Security.
Windows versions has some unique additions like weak settings control. It prompts you to fix the issues to patch the holes, which could be used as an attack vector. Other features, such as Rescue Disk, creates a bootable CD. You can use it in cases when your system is out of order, and Windows refuses to load.
Although the offered feature set is undoubtedly smaller on the macOS version, the service does bring additional value. You can perform system-wide scans, disable your webcam, block ads, and intrusive scripts. There are some extra additions to increase your overall online security like a VPN and a password Manager. If you were wondering, this doesn't include parental controls, as the app doesn't seem to be working on Mac.
During our tests, we noticed, that the broken parental controls app wasn't the only issue. The installation itself proved to be a challenge in itself. After running the app, I got an error that some protection components aren't running. However, after reinstalling the app, and the fix from their support page did nothing. It wasn't possible to ask the community for help either as there was no code or indication of which component failed to install.
Kaspersky mobile apps
Mobile users, instead of one app that has all the features get three separate apps on all platforms. iOS users get Kaspersky Security Cloud (which is useful only for data leak checks and malicious URLs block), Secure VPN & Proxy, and a password Manager. System-wide antivirus scans are irrelevant for iOS users, so it's not really a problem.
Android follows the same clunky model and consists of Kaspersky Security Cloud, Kaspersky Internet Security, and Kaspersky Password Manager. So, you'll have to combine all of these apps to make a comparable desktop experience. That said, with them, you can check your Android settings for vulnerabilities, view the devices on your network, check if your credentials have been leaked, scan for viruses, and enable real-time protection.
Some functions are more tailored to phones, such as blacklisting phone numbers, checking SMS messages for malicious links, locking certain apps, and anti-theft features.
Overall, Android's version comes off as full of features. It's quite an easy recommendation if you're looking for an antivirus for your phone.
Kaspersky’s support center can be found at support.kaspersky.com. The page features a knowledge base with a search bar and tile navigation. Once you select products for “Personal” or “Business,” it takes you to a selection between a documentation center, a FAQ, and the knowledge base. Scroll down, and you will find “useful links,” including product support and security tips.
At the bottom, you have the option to check “Yes” or “No” as to whether or not the information was helpful. If you check “No,” it takes you to a feedback form… but not a contact form.
To contact Kaspersky, you can select the FAQ and scroll to the bottom of the page. It includes a link to create a request through “My Kaspersky,” as well as a link to technical support. Here, at last, we find our tech support contact avenues, including an email form and a support phone line.
Tech support can be reached at 1 (781) 503-1820. There is also a chat support option. All support options are available 24/7.
Is Kaspersky Antivirus safe to use?
We don't recommend using Kaspersky Antivirus, because there might be security issues related to its user identification ties to the Russian secret services.
In fact, the connection is so well established, Germany's Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) actively recommends to not use Kaspersky antivirus, and urges its users to consider alternative products.
However, as a product itself, Kaspersky Antivirus offers decent protection from viruses, malware, and ransomware, protecting your devices. Kaspersky also provides lots of useful features, such as WebCam protection, a fast VPN, and an Ad Blocker to help you maximize your device’s security at all times.
Keep in mind that all of these perks are designed to use as minimal resources as possible, so the antivirus has little impact on your device memory and system performance. Just have in mind that there are way more secure and reliable alternatives to choose.
All in all, the decision whether or not to use Kaspersky is entirely in your hands. It can be good if you're looking for simplicity, ease of use, and a couple of extra features to make you online experience safe – even at a pretty high price.
The taint of Russian espionage allegations remains, as do the bans by the US government, Twitter, and Best Buy. Kaspersky has been proactive in its attempts to rehabilitate its reputation… but when an Internet security company is accused of being an avenue for espionage, proceed with caution.
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Can Kaspersky be trusted?
No, Kaspersky is not a very trustworthy company. It first became a lightning rod for criticism in 2017 over allegations by US and British intelligence organizations that the company had colluded with Russian intelligence agencies to facilitate espionage and data theft. After Russia's army unlawfully invaded Ukraine, effectively weaponizing its intelligence, we can conclude that we don't recommend personal users trusting Kaspersky with their personal information.
Why is Kaspersky banned?
On September 13, 2017, the US Department of Homeland Security banned the use of Kaspersky products by all government agencies in response to allegations that Kaspersky had collaborated with the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) to use Kaspersky software as a tool for facilitating espionage and the theft of sensitive data. Kaspersky has denied these allegations.
Is Kaspersky good?
Yes. Before the Russian intelligence scandal, Kaspersky was a reputable name with 20 years in the industry. It has tested above-average or excellent in its ability to detect and block viruses, malware, and ransomware. It can be used with Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android operating systems, making it a versatile antivirus solution. It is user-friendly, with appealing scanning options and privacy-protection features. All things being equal, it compares favorably with other top antivirus programs.
Do I really need antivirus?
Modern operating systems aren’t as barebones as they used to be in the early ’00s. Meaning that they have their proprietary measures to protect you against all kinds of cyberthreats. However, since they supervise large infrastructures, they may not be as quick to react to a malware threat as professionals who strictly work in the same field. So, potentially using a third-party antivirus might give you better results.