Smartphone security has been a hot topic in recent times, yet many users are slow to realise the potential dangers that are involved with these devices, with their ability to store sensitive information such as passwords and financial details. The security industry is moving to counter the problem, and Kaspersky is the latest big name to add a mobile security suite to its arsenal. Kaspersky Mobile Security 9 takes a slightly different approach to rivals such as BullGuard by making all of the key tools available through the handset itself, rather than backing them up with an online interface.
After installing the software on a mobile deivce, you’re first prompted to enter a secret code – a digit-based string that will allow the users to access the software via a phone, and control many of the more advanced features available.
Kaspersky ticks the most important boxes right away by offering key antivirus and malware protection, which are used to scan the phone at an opportune time and check downloads, copied and opened files to ensure no malware is present. It’s possible to set up scheduled scans and schedule update checks, and specific folders can be targeted to save time.
Next up is Privacy Protection, which allows users to hide specific contacts, SMS messages, call records and incoming calls and texts, and simply involves setting up a contact or phone number to ignore. Similarly, a Call & SMS filter allows you to create a blacklist and/or whitelist for calls and messages so that specific numbers are blocked, or only specific numbers are allowed. This comes in useful both for safeguarding against nuisance calls and messages, and as rudimentary parental controls to prevent children from dialling unwanted numbers or sending texts that could potentially run up a huge bill.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the suite is the Anti-Theft module, which offers a number of safeguards to help in the event of a phone being lost or stolen. A text message can be sent to the device using the pre-established secret code to block the device, which then displays a customisable message that could include a contact number for it to be returned. Similarly, it’s possible to wipe the data on the phone remotely by using a similar command sent by SMS. A SIM Watch tool allows a device to be blocked automatically when the SIM card is replaced, and the GPS Find feature can send the coordinates of a GPS-enabled device to a specified number or email address. These all work very well, and are an interesting alternative to web-based controls, since it’s more likely that you’ll be closer to someone who can lend you their phone to send a text than you would be a web-enabled computer.
Performance and control
We liked the approach taken by Kaspersky in making all of these features available from the handset, and there’s a nice amount of information on-screen to help guide you through the purpose and operation of each module at the appropriate time. While beginners may find there’s a bit of a learning curve here, Kaspersky certainly makes it easy to get to grips with the software pretty quickly – though it’s advisable to test some of the features, particularly the anti-theft module, to ensure that you know how to format the required text messages correctly. The software provides reassuring prompts that pop up to notify you that a file has been safely scanned, for example, and there’s a decent degree of automation available from the scheduled scans and updates. Events can be logged and viewed from the phone to see what has been done in the background, and a widget is available for the home screen to offer quick access to the main features of the software.
We noticed no system slowdown during scans (which can happily work in the background) and the software takes up a relatively svelte 1.5MB of space, so shouldn’t infringe on what can often be frustratingly small amounts of free memory.
Operating system requirements
We reviewed Kaspersky Mobile Security 9 on an Android phone, and based on recent reports of the vulnerabilities surrounding this OS we can see this sort of software being a popular choice for these users. This version of the software does omit certain features such as Encryption and full Parental Control, both o which are available along with the tools described above, in both Symbian and Windows Mobile versions. BlackBerry users will find a rather stripped-down feature set that only includes Anti-Theft and Call & SMS filters however, so this is important to bear in mind when choosing the right security suite for your phone.
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- Nice range of features and protection that's all handled through the smartphone.
- New users will need to test the features and SMS commands to ensure they know how to use them correctly.
Kaspersky Mobile Security 9 is a tidy and comprehensive suite of tools for mobiles (depending on the OS you're using) that goes about its job well and can be controlled solely from a handheld. There are limited help resources available if you get stuck, though - so users will need to be familiar with the software to ensure they know how to safeguard a phone in the event of loss or theft.