Kaspersky has an impressive reputation in the security market, with its award-winning antivirus engine being licensed to competitors including the recently reviewed ZoneAlarm Internet Security Suite 2012. Like ZoneAlarm, Kaspersky doesn’t bring any radically new tools to its 2012 suite – and like ZoneAlarm, it has focused more on usability, with a revised interface that puts an emphasis on simplicity.
After a straightforward installation, you’ll find a single large box detailing the current protection status of a computer, along withsome rather basic-looking icons beneath it that work in a scrollable list to offer quick access to the main components. The majority of the software’s functions work away quietly in the background. Kaspersky has put an emphasis on a number of improvements, many of which provide real-time protection while browsing the internet.
A URL advisor, anti-phishing and anti-spam technology protect or warn against the latest threats and suspect sources, and you’re notified immediately if potentially malicious software or websites are detected.
Performance and key features
Kaspersky combines both cloud-based and PC-based protection, and its anti-malware engine received a clean sweep of awards at independent test labs, so it’s fair to say that as long as it’s kept regularly updated, this is one of the most watertight solutions around.
Kaspersky took just over four minutes for its ‘quick scan’ (faster than that of ZoneAlarm, but a fair bit slower than Norton 360) – named ‘Critical areas scan’ – and during this time, it remained fairly light on CPU usage at around 35 per cent. We did notice some system slowdown during this process, though, which seemed a little strange. It wasn’t too intrusive, though, and one benefit of the scanner is the ability to schedule scans to run when the system is idle.
It’s also possible to perform a custom scan of a single file, which could be handy for those who have detected suspicious activity or want to double-check a download – though considering the software checks all accessed or downloaded files anyway, we’re not sure when this would be needed.
Kaspersky takes an interesting approach to firewall protection, which is barely mentioned throughout the suite – and it wasn’t until we took a quick dig through the settings that we could confirm to ourselves that it was present and working. This isn’t really a problem, since the firewall itself is nicely automated and doesn’t bug you for access confirmations, being maintained by a constantly updated database of software. If you do need to configure this area of security, it’s pretty straightforward once you’ve dug deep enough to access the advanced settings.
A range of additional tools include the ability to create a rescue ‘disk’, either on CD or a flash drive, a privacy cleaner to remove recent commands and activity logs, and a post-infection tool for Windows that searches for irregular or damaged settings caused by infection.
Unknown or new applications can be run in a safe ‘virtual’ environment to ensure they don’t make any unwanted changes to the OS, and there’s a similar safe mode for websites. Other minor but potentially useful features include a virtual keyboard to protect against keyloggers, a network and application monitor to help highlight any unusual activity and an ‘anti-banner’ tool to blocks ads from appearing, which accompanies capable anti-spam tools to protect you from unsolicited email.
Parental control features are also comprehensive, and allow an administrator to control computer, application and internet usage, file download control, and gives them the ability to log messages posted to social networking sites and instant messaging clients.
Kaspersky also comes with a desktop widget that summarises its current status and offers quick access to key features, which is often faster than opening the full suite.
Version differences and pricing
Despite these benefits, there are some holes in Kaspersky Internet Security’s armour. Network security is rather basic here, and there’s no online/offline backup or tune-up/encryption tools. These, along with a password manager and disaster recovery via automatic backup will all be available on the full ‘PURE’ suite for an extra £10, but the software is already fairly expensive as it is. At £39.99 for a single-user license and £49.99 for three PCs, this is the kind of price we’d expect from a premium suite, and despite its impressive levels of protection we feel the budget-conscious may find their needs satisfied elsewhere.
- Impressive protection that works effectively in the background.
- Pricey, considering it lacks missing useful extras that rivals include as standard.
Kaspersky offers a wide range of useful tools with its 2012 suite - and, as appears to be the current trend, many of these work unobtrusively without requiring much user input. It's an excellent choice for regular web users: an effective 'set-and-forget' security solution that'll work quietly in the background to protect them against the latest threats - but at this price, we'd have expected a few more bells and whistles.