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Kaspersky Anti-Virus review: is it safe to use?

Computer screen with kaspersky dashboard and app

Kaspersky Anti-Virus, a Moscow-based Kaspersky product, has enjoyed two decades of robust competition in the cybersecurity space. Then, disaster struck—starting in 2015, major news outlets began breaking stories of collaboration between Kaspersky and Russian intelligence organizations.

Kaspersky denied the allegations and even moved some of their infrastructures to countries like Switzerland. Although the service has taken steps to rebuild public trust, there remain some unanswered questions. It’s still available, so can Kaspersky antivirus be trusted? Is it any good? Read my Kaspersky Antivirus Review to find out.

Rating:4.6
Price:from $29.99/year
Free version:Yes
Platforms:Windows, Mac, Android, iOS

Kaspersky antivirus pros & cons

Pros

  • Database regularly updated with the latest threats and viruses
  • Little impact on memory and system performance
  • System optimization available
  • Excellent and reliable features
  • TDSKILLER looks for bootkits and rootkits
  • User-friendly
  • 24/7 phone, chat, and email support
  • Easy to change plans

Cons

  • 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

Visit Kaspersky to learn more about the features

Kaspersky security features

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.

There’s also the question of the maximum number of devices that you can install the software on. So, suppose you have a large family or use multiple devices. In that case, this should be among your considerations when choosing your subscription plan.

Malware protection

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 closest competitor Norton.

kaspersky antivirus settings

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.

Safe money

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.

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 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.

Privacy protection

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

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.

Plans & pricing

VersionFeaturesPrice
FreeMalware protectionFree
Anti-VirusMalware protection, ransomware blockers,$29.99
Internet SecurityMalware protection, Privacy Protector, Safe Money$39.99
Total SecurityMalware protection, Privacy Protector, Safe Money, Safe Kids mode, password manager, file protection$49.99

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 $49.99 for five devices annually, $99.99 for two years, and $149.99 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.

Desktop apps

Windows

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.

kaspersky windows app

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 like Rescue Disk that creates a bootable CD. You can use it in cases when your system is out of order, and Windows refuse 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 VPN, and 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. 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 useful only for data leak checks and malicious URLs block), Secure VPN & Proxy, and Password Manager. System-wide antivirus scans are irrelevant for iOS users, so it’s not really a problem.

kaspersky android screenshot

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’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.

Video review

Kaspersky Antivirus video review screenshot

Is Kaspersky Antivirus safe to use?

From a protection standpoint, Kaspersky Antivirus is safe as it offers admirable protection from viruses, malware, and ransomware, protecting your devices as well or better than its top competitors—as you would expect with its higher price point.

But 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. 


More antivirus software reviews

Norton 360 review: why it’s one of the best solutions on the market

Bitdefender review: antivirus program #1 in 2021

McAfee review: one of the world’s most popular antivirus software


FAQ

Can Kaspersky be trusted?

Yes, in a sense. Kaspersky 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. Kaspersky denies these allegations, claiming that flaws in its own security were exploited by outside actors.

In October 2017, Kaspersky announced a “Global Transparency Initiative,” opening up its products and systems to third-party scrutiny in an effort to rebuild the brand. In May 2018, Kaspersky announced the relocation of key infrastructure, including data centers, out of Russia and to Switzerland. These moves suggest an active bid for public trust, but it’s still too early to tell whether Kaspersky can be trusted.

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 VPN might give you better results.

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Comments 10
  1. SleekgambitX says:

    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 says:

      You can, but you’ll have to opt-in for the Kaspersky Total Security for Business plan to take advantage of this feature.

  2. GrundyFlea says:

    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 says:

      It depends on your subscription type. If your subscription is for one device-only, you shouldn’t install it on other devices.

  3. Arnold says:

    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 says:

      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.

  4. Frederick says:

    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 says:

      Hi, Frederick. Kaspersky has a firewall, but you’ll have to get the Kaspersky Total Security plan.

  5. MaidCrawler66 says:

    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 says:

      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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