Kaspersky Review: Does This Antivirus Software Provider Live Up to Its Reputation?

Girl sitting behind her computer with Kaspersky logo on screen

Kaspersky Internet Security is the antivirus solution from the Russian cyber security solutions provider Kaspersky, previously known as Kaspersky Lab. Kaspersky is known as one of the larger cybersecurity providers, along with companies such as Symantec, Sophos and McAfee. This is why we investigated how Kaspersky fares and compared it with other antivirus providers such as AVG, Avast, Avira and Bitdefender. Below we list our findings.

Kaspersky Packages and Prices

Kaspersky offers three antivirus packages with different programs and features, which don’t just protect you against viruses and malware, but also safeguard, for example, online payments and your privacy. Of course, all three packages offer a scan function; this can be a quick scan, a thorough scan, a scan of the folders or subfolders of your choice, or a scan of external devices – a USB, for example.

See below for a summary of Kaspersky’s packages.

Kaspersky Anti-Virus
(Basic Functions)
Kaspersky Internet Security (Extra Functions) Kaspersky Total Security
(Extra Functions)
Real-time protection against viruses and malware Protects multiple devices – on PC, Mac and mobile Safe Kids: incl. “bad content” content blocker, GPS-tracker and more
Virus scanner Online payment protection through encrypted browsing Password manager and synchronization
Performance protection Phishing protection File protection incl. back-ups – PC only
Firewall

The real antivirus features are included in the Anti-Virus and Internet Security packages. In this review we will therefore focus on these two packages. Just to clarify: the Kaspersky Total Security package also offers the options of the other two packages and Kaspersky Internet Security also offers Kaspersky’s Anti-Virus’s features. In our review, we will look at user-friendliness and overall quality and, of course, security. At the time of writing Kaspersky’s pricing is as follows:

Kaspersky prices

Do you want to take out a subscription for one of the Kaspersky packages straight away? Click on the button below to go to the site of this premium antivirus provider.

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Security: How Well Does Kaspersky Protect Your Computer?

For real-time protection, Kaspersky relies on a firewall, which controls whether or not certain internet traffic is allowed. In addition, all incoming data is automatically scanned. This can be data coming from the internet, but also from other sources, like USB sticks, for example. The scan function also checks the activity of all installed programs, to prevent them from executing any harmful actions.

Of course, planned and user-initiated scans are also possible, ranging from quick scans to thorough system scans. You’ll read more about this in the “Speed and Performance” section. To assess the level of protection against malware and other malicious files entering your PC, we calculated an average based on the results of tests by AV-Comparatives, a leading research firm for antivirus software providers. Providers below this average get a lower rating for security and vice versa.

Furthermore, we take into account how complete Kaspersky’s set of features is compared to other providers, and how much value is offered for the prices consumers pay. In the case of Kaspersky, the functionality is quite extensive. That being said, most antivirus providers in the same price range are also comparable in terms of functionality.

Specific sub-functions

Some sub-functionalities are a real bonus. An on-screen keyboard, for example, that protects you against keyloggers. Instead of typing on your regular keyboard, you simply use the on-screen one to securely enter sensitive information, such as your online banking login details.

You can also add certain websites to a “Safe Money” list. This way Kaspersky will automatically open the website in Protected Browser mode and thus protect payments that are made through those websites. This method feels a bit more secure than the protection that, for example, AVG offers. In this case the “Payments protection” feature blocks fake and unsafe copycat websites.

Another interesting security feature is “System Watcher”. This program component prevents ransomware or other malicious programs that lock your PC from making changes. It also scans your system for network attacks, so that they can be stopped before reaching your device.

Anti-fraud features

When it comes to privacy and anti-fraud, Kaspersky offers protection against data collection via websites, as well as protection against third-party takeovers of your webcam. You also have the option to turn on an anti-banner filter, to disable the display of those annoying advertisements. Furthermore, there is a feature against phishing via text messages and e-mails. Kaspersky makes use of an extensive database to automatically recognize phishing messages in email programs such as Outlook.

Performance and ease of use

Kaspersky also has several functions that add to the ease of use of your PC and its performance. The gaming mode, for example, guarantees that you’ll not be disturbed by antivirus notifications while gaming. Furthermore, no scheduled antivirus tasks are performed when the battery is low. On top of that, Kaspersky’s software does not affect your PC’s performance drastically.

Security level: score

In our usage test, we immediately noticed that Kaspersky’s real-time protection capabilities are excellent. We tried to download a number of test files, which were disguised as malware for antivirus scanners. Every single time we immediately received a notification. So, users will straight away be aware that something might have gone wrong. In most cases, files are blocked in the browser.

Kaspersky blocks virus test file message

In AV-Comparatives’ test Kaspersky was able to fend of 99.9% of all threats, with no false positives. False positives are files that are incorrectly classified as a threat, which is inconvenient if, in reality, the files you are trying to download are harmless, but quarantined regardless.

Because of Kaspersky’s 99.9% threat protection, its extensive functions and the fact it did not generate any false positives, we give Kaspersky Security a score of 9.5. This is one of the more impressive scores among antivirus solutions we have reviewed.

Privacy Policy: How Does Kaspersky Handle Your Data?

When we look at privacy, we don’t just consider Kaspersky’s own privacy protection capabilities, but also the privacy policy of the company itself. In the past, there have been some issues, namely with certain scripts on web pages that could have been exploited to steal data. No evidence of actual abuse was ever found. Nonetheless, we decided to take a good look at Kaspersky’s privacy policy.

Kaspersky’s privacy policy states several times that they give users the possibility to opt-out of “most” forms of data collection. There are indeed different instances where you can indicate whether or not you want to send your data to Kaspersky. For example, when you want to receive their newsletters, but also for marketing and personalization purposes.

Unfortunately, sometimes choosing to opt-out means that you cannot use the software. So, in the end, users agree and Kaspersky is legally allowed to collect data from users who agree to the privacy policy:

“However, if you do not provide personal data when requested, you may not be able to benefit from the full range of Kaspersky Lab products and services and we may not be able to provide you with information about products, services, and promotions.”

In addition, some governments have banned the use of Kaspersky Antivirus on, for example, federal agencies’ networks. Not necessarily because there is a reason to suspect the Russian company of espionage, but because the company is based in Russia and is therefore bound by the rules to aid the Russian intelligence service if requested. Indirectly, this does of course affect users’ privacy.

Sharing your data is far from ideal, but alas, this is the way providers can improve their protection. So be aware that you agree to data sharing when using Kaspersky Internet Security. In conclusion, we give Kaspersky a 7.5 for their privacy policy, because no evidence of abuse has been found and because their privacy policy clearly mentions the data collection.

Ease of Use: How User-Friendly is Kaspersky?

Kaspersky’s website looks clean and professional. In some countries, you first have to select whether you are a business or a home user. In other countries, you can go straight to the products section. To install Kaspersky, first click on consumer, then on PC, Mac or Mobile. If you click on PC, for example, you will see the following price overview:

Kaspersky prices

The package that we have installed is the middle one, because its features are comparable to the most popular software packages of other providers, such as AVG, Bitdefender or Avira. This way, our comparison between providers is as fair as possible.

How do I install Kaspersky?

Kaspersky’s installation process is self-explanatory, as is the case with many other antivirus programs. After processing your payment, the installer will be downloaded automatically. Next, you only have to click on “Run”. After you have gone through this process, Kaspersky immediately scans your system, after which the start screen appears.

Kaspersy installation finished screenshot

You might have to indicate in which part of the world you live to make Kaspersky work properly before the installation file is downloaded. If this is the case, you can do this in the drop down menu as shown below. Make sure you pay attention during this step if you have to go through it, otherwise the program you download might simply not work.

Kaspersky drop-down menu to choose location before installation

Kaspersky’s software

The options you have in Kaspersky’s Internet Security software are not much more extensive than with other providers, but the software does come across as very transparent and easy to navigate during use. It is, for example, very easy to view details of different parts of the software. By clicking on a section’s button, you can see at a glance what is protected and what is not.

What is also very user-friendly is that a brief explanation appears on your screen when you open a certain program component for the first time. With “Safe banking”, for example, it is not immediately clear from the standard interface what you can do with this part, but the explanation tells you how to use it. You can view these user manuals at any point later in time by clicking on the “How does it work?” button.

This explanation does not appear in the Privacy Protection section, but this interface is more self-explanatory. This does indicate that the developers have really thought about the design of the software, so that you are not confronted with annoying and unnecessary content.

In our opinion, the software is generally easy to use and easy to navigate. It is quite obvious where to find certain options. Combined with the sleek website and the easy installation process, we therefore give Kaspersky a 9.0 for ease of use.

Kaspersky interface screenshot

Customer Support

Kaspersky’s customer service with an actual person can be reached via live chat. As with many other antivirus providers, this option is somewhat hidden behind other support information on the website. There is, for example, a very extensive Knowledge Base, which in many cases provides you with the information you need.

When we actually tried to contact Kaspersky, however, it took a while before we could reach someone. This option is only available to those who have a user account. But even then, you have to complete a few too many steps.

It is possible to send a support request, to which you will receive an answer by e-mail. In addition, there is also the option of a live chat to get a quick answer to your questions. Contact via the phone is also possible. The phone number, however, cannot be found on the support page and is only mentioned on the “About” page.

Once we entered the live chat, it only took a minute for our problem to be resolved. So, the speed and effectiveness of Kaspersky’s customer support service was certainly fine. However, our chat was cut off rather abruptly after we said “Yes” to the question if our problem had been solved, while it was quite possible that we had another problem.

Afterwards, we were asked if we wanted to fill in a survey about the quality of customer support. Honestly, our rating would have been higher if it would have been easier to contact customer service in the first place, and if we had not been cut off too soon. That’s why we give Kaspersky’s customer service a rating of 6.5.

Speed and Performance

Kaspersky’s scanning function gives you two options: a quick scan or a thorough scan. The thorough scan took us approximately 12:30 minutes, the quick scan only 40 seconds. These are excellent speeds, meaning you can quickly do a scan without being disturbed during your day.

The System performance while using Kaspersky is fine. You actually don’t even notice it when a scan is running or when real-time malware protection is running in the background. These processes use a total of approximately 110 MB of working memory when running in the background. The CPU usage remains below 2 percent.

In addition to checking facts and figures, we have extensively tested whether other programs stay stable in combination with Kaspersky. We can simply conclude that, in that regard, little or nothing gives away that an antivirus program is running. During scans, CPU usage and working memory usage do go up quickly, but this is to be expected with good virus protection.

Above all, this did not hinder us when using other software. Yet, that being said, during the thorough scan our computer did get very warm and the fans were running on full power. This is a slight drawback. We can imagine that devices with less impressive specifications could suffer due to excessive system load.

Kaspersky’s good system performance resulted in a score of 9 in terms of performance and speed. We did subtract 0.5 points for the intense thorough scan, which demanded quite a lot from our system. In conclusion, we gave Kaspersky a score of 8.5.

Final Verdict: Is Kaspersky a Good Virus Scanner?

Kaspersky did not disappoint us, but no virus scanner is perfect. See below for a list of pros and cons.

Advantages Disadvantages
Kaspersky’s protection is top quality The customer service did not work as smoothly and fast as we had hoped
Very user-friendly with a lot of information The privacy policy is not always very clear
Kaspersky offers many different types of scans that are also very fast Our computer sometimes became very hot during a thorough scan

In conclusion, Kaspersky is a high-level antivirus provider. The provider clearly lives up to its reputation. Nonetheless, there are a few minuses to be noted, namely customer service and customer support. Also, the privacy policy is not very transparent. Unfortunately, nowadays, this is the norm rather than the exception.

For our final assessment, we combined the ratings for security (weighting of 0.5), speed and system load (weighting of 0.2), privacy (weighting of 0.1) ease of use (weighting of 0.1) and customer service (weighting of 0.1). See below for an overview. As you can see, Kaspersky receives a high score of 8.8. We must add that a more fine-tuned customer service process would certainly have resulted in a 9 or higher.

  • Security: 9.5
  • Speed and system load: 8.5
  • Privacy Policy: 7.5
  • Ease of use: 9.0
  • Customer service: 6.5
  • Final score: 8.8

Are you, just like us, convinced of the quality of Kaspersky, and do you want to take out a subscription right away? Click on the button below to go directly to the website.

Visit Kaspersky
Kaspersky Antivirus – FAQs

Do you have a question you want a quick answer to? Check the FAQs below and your problem may be solved immediately.

Kaspersky is available in three packages, namely Kaspersky Anti-Virus for $15.99 per year (1 device), Internet Security for $31.99 per year (3 devices) and Total Security for $39.99 per year (5 devices).

In Windows 10, Kaspersky can be removed by taking the following steps:

  1. Right-click the “Start” button in the bottom left hand corner of your screen to open the context menu
  2. Select “Apps and Features”
  3. The “Apps and Features” screen opens
  4. Select “Kaspersky Security Scan”
  5. Click the “Uninstall” button

For Mac, Kaspersky can be removed as follows:

  1. Open the installation file of your package
  2. Double-click “Uninstall”
  3. Enter your username and password
  4. Kaspersky is removed.

No, Kaspersky does not have a free version. But it is possible to download a demo version from the Kaspersky website to check whether the software suits you. Also, we recommend checking out our in-depth review to find out whether Kaspersky is for you.

IT communication specialist
Sandra has many years of experience in the IT and tech sector as a communication specialist. She's also been co-director of a company specializing in IT, editorial services and communications project management. For VPNoverview.com she follows relevant cybercrime and online privacy developments.