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Kaspersky antivirus review: is it safe to use?


Kaspersky antivirus 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 security ties of the company are much more important than bells and whistles of an antivirus app.

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 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 – especially when there are much more trustworthy antivirus providers, such as TotalAV or Bitdefender, available?

Best alternative to Kaspersky
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Let's have a look what's under the hood of this antivirus provider.

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🖥️ Platforms:Windows, Mac, Android, iOS
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Kaspersky antivirus pros and cons

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 good. Of course, as with any paid service, the actual set of available features will heavily depend on the pricing plan you pick. 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.

Virus scans

Firstly, there are the scans. Kaspersky antivirus solution includes these scans:

  • Quick scan – checks the usual places on your device where malware could be – temporary files folder and similar. If it finds any threats, the user gets a suggestion to do a full scan.
  • Full scan – scans the entire system.
  • Selective scan – the user can choose particular folders or files to be scanned.
  • Removable drives scan – scans drives such as hard drives, USB sticks, and similar.
  • Vulnerability scan – scans the applications for vulnerabilities.
  • Background scan – scans system memory, disk boot sectors, and startup objects. The scan starts together with the vulnerability scan and cannot be launched independently.

We did some in-house testing of some of these scans. Let’s take a look at how they went:

Quick scan

The quick scan took around 1 minute and 30 seconds and scanned more than 3,000 files. The CPU load was between 25-58%. The scan did not find any of the 10 malware files, which is not that unusual for quick scans.

kaspersky quick scan

Full scan

The full scan took a little more than 6 minutes to complete and scanned around 234,000 files. The CPU load was high – around 85% on average. The scan managed to find all 10 of the malicious files.

kaspersky full scan

Vulnerability scan

The vulnerability scan was very quick – it took around only 15 seconds to scan around 7,000 files. It did not find any vulnerabilities.

Background scan

The background scan started together with the vulnerability scan but took a lot longer. In around 2 minutes, almost 3,500 files were scanned, and no threats were found.

Malware protection

Kaspersky’s malware scanner has been tested as recently as fall of 2022 by major testing labs. Such labs as AV-Comparatives and AV-Test showed that Kaspersky performed extremely well, capturing 100% of zero-day malware and 100% of widespread malware, with an excellent result of 0 false positives.

kaspersky antivirus settings

Tests performed by SE Labs only confirmed these great results, with a 100% detection record. It resulted from blocking the malware from being installed, rather than dismantling it once it had been installed.

All tests considered, Kaspersky offers excellent malware protection measures. Few antiviruses can boast the same results – one example is TotalAV, making it a great Kaspersky alternative.

Payment protection

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 in 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 by cybercriminals. Sending money over a secured browser like Kaspersky Safe Money is not unreasonably paranoid.

Real-time protection

Kaspersky real-time protection is a feature that protects your device from online threats, most commonly malware disguised as legitimate files.

kaspersky real time protection

During our tests, it worked quite well. The feature found and unzipped all 10 of the malicious files and deleted 8 out of 10 threats. The process was a little different than that of other antivirus programs, though. First, it flagged the malware, then marked it for termination, and only then deleted it, while other programs would put files into quarantine and ask the user how to proceed.

Two-way firewall

The app lock feature of Kaspersky is mostly designed for mobile devices. It allows users to restrict access to chosen mobile apps, such as Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, or others. This ensures maximum privacy protection.

The app lock works by essentially locking an app, and once someone tries to access it, it asks for a code. This feature is only available with the premium version of the Internet Security plan.

App lock

The app lock feature of Kaspersky is mostly designed for mobile devices. It allows users to restrict access to chosen mobile apps, such as Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, or others. This ensures maximum privacy protection.

The app lock works by essentially locking an app, and once someone tries to access it, it asks for a code.

Web threat protection

Kaspersky’s Web Threat Protection scans various links for phishing website addresses and prevents the user from visiting them if any threats are found. A similar feature is a URL Advisor, which checks websites and flags them as safe, suspicious, or dangerous.

However, it is worth mentioning that this feature is not on the Kaspersky Anti-Virus app.

Password manager

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.

kaspersky password manager

Most Internet users have many password-protected accounts, and Internet security specialists recommend using a different and strong 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 as they fill in the login credentials for you.

Kaspersky password manager includes:

  • Password generator – can generate up to 99 character long passwords.
  • Password check – notifies if the password is weak or old.
  • Leak detection – notifies if any of your passwords have been leaked online.
  • Document vault – a storage solution to keep your sensitive documents.
  • Auto-fill – automatically fills out login information on websites or apps.
  • Ignored websites – if you don’t want the password manager to save passwords from certain websites, you can mark those websites to be ignored.

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.

When compared to other top password managers such as NordPass or Keeper, Kaspersky password manager is quite good, but not on the same level as the market-leading solutions. For example, the browser extensions don’t always work and the free version allows for only 15 data entries, no matter if they’re passwords, photos, documents, or other types of files.

Privacy protection

A premium feature of Kaspersky, 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

kaspersky VPN screenshot

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.

The Kaspersky VPN paid version features include:

  • Smart protection – VPN automatically connects when an insecure network is detected.
  • Kill switch – temporarily shuts down your Internet to prevent data leaks in case the VPN connection accidentally drops
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • 90+ server locations

There is also a free version of Kaspersky VPN available, however, it only offers one VPN server location in the Netherlands, no kill switch, and has a 200Mb/day data limit. That is not nearly enough data for anything, and it will take you only a few internet search queries before it runs out.

Compared to top VPN providers such as NordVPN, Kaspersky Secure Connection VPN is lacking in features, server count, and overall functionality.

Plans and pricing

PlanFeaturesPrice
FreeMalware protectionFree
Anti-VirusMalware protection, ransomware blockers, Privacy Protection$29.99/year
Internet SecurityMalware protection, Privacy Protectio , Safe Money$39.99/year
Total SecurityMalware protection, Privacy Protection, Safe Money, Safe Kids mode, password manager, file protection$44.99/year

We don’t recommend getting Kaspersky because of its ties to Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB). However, we strongly suggest looking into some alternatives, such as Bitdefender, TotalAV, or Norton.

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Kaspersky offers a range of plans – a free one and 3 paid subscriptions. The free version is basic and fairly limited, providing you with malware protection only.

If advanced security is what you’re looking for, then the Kaspersky Anti-Virus plan is a solid solution. On top of protection from malware, you’re also secured from ransomware and are informed about your data collection practices.

Furthermore, if you opt for the Kaspersky Internet Security plan, you’re going to get the same benefits as with the Anti-Virus plan. Except you also get the identity and payment protection feature.

If you want the highest protection levels, the Total Security subscription is where it’s at. With it, you get the same features as with the Internet Security plan, plus the Safe Kids mode, a password manager, and file protection.

Keep in mind that all paid plans support 3 devices simultaneously. Yet, you can increase the count for an additional cost. For example, Kaspersky Anti-Virus and Internet Security plans allow up to 5 devices, while Total Security – 10 devices.

Ease of use and setup

Kaspersky antivirus is very 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.

Windows

Once installed, Kaspersky offers a new and intuitive, visually-appealing control panel with the main sections laid out as convenient tiles on the left side of the screen. Most features are very easy to find, 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.

New Kaspersky Windows app

The app’s main screen displays a green checkmark or a red “x” to tell you whether your device is protected or not, and recommended actions are accessible via the Details button. It takes just a few minutes a day to square away your device with Kaspersky Anti-Virus, Internet Security, or Total Security.

The Windows app 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.

macOS

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.

kaspersky page block

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. Even after reinstalling the app, the suggested 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.

All in all, it seems that antivirus programs such as TotalAV, Bitdefender, or Norton would be better alternatives for easy setup than Kaspersky in this case.

Best Kaspersky alternatives:

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.

Kaspersky iOS app

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.

Customer support

Kaspersky
24/7 live chat
Email
Phone line
Guides or articles
FAQs

Kaspersky has a bunch of customer support options available, whether you need human assistance or want to solve issues yourself. For starters, there’s a 24/7 live chat available, letting you find solutions to your issues at any time of the day.

In terms of human support options, there’s also a phone number you can use to contact the support team for more complex issues. And if it’s not a time-sensitive problem or you just want to ask a particular question, you can simply fill in an email form. Keep in mind that all support options are available 24/7.

However, if you like to fix everything independently, Kaspersky provides you with an extensive knowledge base as well as FAQs. So, whatever the case, you’ll have plenty of support at your doorstep.

Video review

Kaspersky antivirus video review

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 not to 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 your 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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FAQ

Comments

Alex
Alex
prefix 2 months ago
I have been using Kaspersky for many years and had the safest protection.
But now, how can I protect my privacy and personal data by relying on Kaspersky?
There is no way because alas kaspersky has become an active spy in home and life.
Shame on whoever did this.
As for Kaspersky support in my country, they are rude and incapable of any help
Adam Minton
Adam Minton
prefix 5 months ago
My mobile Kaspersky repetitively shuts off in accessibility somehow. Constantly having to turn it back on and sometimes it shows that it isn't working even though accessibility is on. Can't take it anymore. Works great with my tablet but not my phone.
John Airey
John Airey
prefix 8 months ago
What all these reviews miss is the economic sanctions against Russia, which means it's only a matter of time until Kaspersky stops working because all companies depend on money to pay their bills even those set up by ex-KGB intelligence officers (meaning of course that it is unlikely that Kaspersky and Putin are not friends). There is even the risk of it being used for cyber attacks. I wouldn't have bought it even before 2014 never mind 2017
David Fisher
David Fisher
prefix 8 months ago
I love Kaspersky and have so for over 20 years.
I do not like the idea Kaspersky is Russian, the owner an X-KGB, and that their servers also run the russian government (still verifying that though).
The price is NOT in the high tier. Kaspersky endpoint security >200 endpoints is about $15 a seat.
Norton is junk.
I actually trust Kaspersky KAS more than Norton that runs LifeLock.
But, because of the issues in Russia I'll be moving away from KAS to ESET or TrendMicro.
never would touch norton, even with a 10 foot pole.

Cybernews Team
Cybernews Team
prefix 8 months ago
CN researchers covered some of the links with Russian military servers right here: https://cybernews.com/security/kaspersky-neutral-stance-in-doubt-as-it-shields-kremlin/
Jason Verney
Jason Verney
prefix 7 months ago
100%agree! McAfee and Norton are junk.l, I've been using Kaspersky for 11 years on my home network, KAS for 6 years and KES for 5 with 0 issues, but I too will be moving to Trend in a few weeks time.
Peter Mason
Peter Mason
prefix 8 months ago
I am not happy that Kaspersky is Russian with the current Ukraine situation, and I wish to remove Kaspersky Internet Security safely. Is this more advisable now, and how do I remove it safely and completely
Patrick Martin
Patrick Martin
prefix 8 months ago
I have had Kaspersky for years without any issues. Do I like supporting a Russian company? Probably not, a tech from Spectrum Cable suggested them and I have never had any issues, no virus, malware, etc. But I watch where I go too. If I want to try a site that I am not 100 percent comfortable with, I use my Chromebook. Hard to get anything on that going through Chrome. I have found sites I click on and Kaspersky will not let me enter as they say it isn't safe (on the rare occasion). I check the Chromebook and I have gotten the same message. I have been up in the air on keeping Kaspersky. I still have about 4-5 months on the sub. I could always drop it all and stay with the virus protection on Spectrum I get with my service, but I doubt it is not as good.
Alex
Alex
prefix 8 months ago
I have removed Kaspersky in all devices in my company. Just a regular uninstall will do. Remove them all. I realized also how much faster these machines are operating now as well. Been using Kaspersky for over 8 years now. Never again. #StandWithUkraine
Anibal Ferreira
Anibal Ferreira
prefix 8 months ago
I removed my Kaspersky now and installed Sophos home for free. No more this people in my life.
DGB
DGB
prefix 8 months ago
A free version isn't crazy good tho. Finding a nice premium option with no blood on their hands is the best choice here. Gotta go search for the best Kaspersky alternatives.
Richard
Richard
prefix 8 months ago
Longtime Kaspersky user here, I've been using Kaspersky since the AVP days (late 90s). Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and the potential cyber threats we may face from Russia in future (particularly if WW3 break out), I've now removed Kaspersky, and requested all my personal data to be deleted in accordance with GDPR. Sad, as Kaspersky is such a good antimalware product. I just can't trust Russia/Putin.
yes
yes
prefix 8 months ago
it is not russian people fault but put-in himself
Erik
Erik
prefix 8 months ago
The fault is not with the Russian people, however large Russian companies such as Kaspersky certainly are complicit with Putin and his crimes.
Antony
Antony
prefix 8 months ago
So, what will it take to close down Kaspersky. We should not be trading with any Russian company in the UK. Still their website is up and running taking MONEY, which will end up in Moscow. LET'S ALL STOP KASPERSKY NOW!
Jake
Jake
prefix 9 months ago
In view of the sanctions against Russia to halt its invasion of Ukraine, is Kaspersky safe to continue using? Could Putin make Kaspersky grab our financial account information to steal & transfer funds out of US accounts?
Jon Orkiewicz
Jon Orkiewicz
prefix 9 months ago
WIth the invasion now a fait accompli, is there a real possibility that Putin will insist the Kaspersky software engineers enable him to target customers with malicious intent?
John Airey
John Airey
prefix 8 months ago
Let's see, Putin has threatened nuclear attack. Putin and Kaspersky are both former KGB intelligence officers. So presumably are friends. What do you think?
Lit hat
Lit hat
prefix 1 year ago
Do I need kaspersky antivirus on android if I’m installing apps only from play store (which means they are verified and safe?) Does it offer any additional app screening?
CyberNews Team
CyberNews Team
prefix 1 year ago
Some apps that bypass Google Play verification download the malicious code separately when you’re using the app. So, you shouldn’t think that it will protect you against malware or spying.
datime
datime
prefix 1 year ago
Hey! nice review. I would like to ask about something I found I’m a still unclear about. What is rookit scan on Kaspersky? How is it different from bootkit? Would be grateful if you could share!
CyberNews Team
CyberNews Team
prefix 1 year ago
Both rootkit and bootkit are quite related. Rootkit gives a hacker access to your computer or network. Meanwhile, a bootkit is a type of rootkit that burrows into your system’s master boot record, which means that it attaches itself directly to your system’s kernel.
SleekgambitX
SleekgambitX
prefix 1 year ago
Can I use kaspersky security for microsoft exchange servers? Already paid for the latter, don’t want to pay for the former if it’s not even compatible. Figured someone here would know. Drop me a reply if you have experience with this, I will be awaiting eagerly.
CyberNews Team
CyberNews Team
prefix 1 year ago
You can, but you’ll have to opt-in for the Kaspersky Total Security for Business plan to take advantage of this feature.
GrundyFlea
GrundyFlea
prefix 1 year ago
Do you know how to add another computer to my kaspersky account? I got a license as a gift, but I only own one computer. Thought I could share with some friends, add their computers remotely, but I can’t find such an option.
CyberNews Team
CyberNews Team
prefix 1 year ago
It depends on your subscription type. If your subscription is for one device-only, you shouldn’t install it on other devices.
Arnold
Arnold
prefix 1 year ago
Help! I think my computer got infected! I’m commenting from my smartphone right now, but I have no idea what to do. Can you tell me how to remove trojan virus with kaspersky? I have it installed, but I may have paused it when the virus made it’s way into my system. Please, this is serious!
CyberNews Team
CyberNews Team
prefix 1 year ago
Hello, Arnold. This does sound serious. However, you should be able to resolve your problem by performing a full system scan in safe mode. It should take care of your issue.
Frederick
Frederick
prefix 1 year ago
Last year I got a 1 year long subscription of kaspersky for Christmas. It was a nice gift, can’t complain. However, I don’t think that I will renew by myself. Maybe I won’t have to if I get the same gift this year. I suppose it will switch to the free version if I don’t do anything. I was wondering though if I will miss out on essential features because of that. So I have to ask – does kaspersky free have a firewall?
CyberNews Team
CyberNews Team
prefix 1 year ago
Hi, Frederick. Kaspersky has a firewall, but you’ll have to get the Kaspersky Total Security plan.
WPontius
WPontius
prefix 7 months ago
Kaspersky Internet Security has a firewall.
MaidCrawler66
MaidCrawler66
prefix 1 year ago
Hi. Is avast better than kaspersky? I personally doubt that because it’s free, but it’s been serving me pretty well despite it’s supposed lack of features. Perhaps it depends on the user. Because honestly I’ve always been under the impression that common sense is all you need for good personal cyber security. And if it’s not like that then I don’t understand why good security can’t be free, we all have a right to being safe online, it should not be reserved to those well off.
CyberNews Team
CyberNews Team
prefix 1 year ago
We haven’t already performed a Kaspersky vs. Avast. However, considering what Avast has on offer and its reputation. You could expect Kaspersky to take the lead when comparing both services. Avast doesn’t appear in our top antivirus toplist, while Kaspersky made it there.
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