Kaspersky Lab is a household-name, global cybersecurity company with over two decades of experience. Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2019 is their latest and greatest malware elimination tool. Does it keep up with the competition when looking for the best antivirus software (opens in new tab) around?
There are plenty of features to keep users safe while online. A critical element is the core antivirus engine, which will block malware prior to it threatening you and your PC. Additionally, System Watcher seeks out undiscovered threats through behaviour monitoring technology. It uses multiple layers of protection against a full array of threats including network attacks, malicious email objects and phishing attacks.
A selection of bonus features complete the package, including Kaspersky Secure Connection, an extremely basic VPN powered by Hotspot Shield. In general, we would certainly appreciate a VPN without a registration requirement, but its very low 200BMB daily limit sells itself short. The option for an upgrade for unlimited traffic at $4.99/£3.80 monthly is no bargain as there are tons of other VPN choices available at that price point.
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Kaspersky's ‘Secret sauce’ is an intelligent behavioural model which uses machine learning for identification of malware through behaviour, without relying on prewritten virus signatures. This suite slots into the OS, working hand in hand with Windows 10's own security tools, providing a higher level of protection to keep a full variety of malware threats at bay. There are also recently added detection capabilities to shut down outgoing requests for connections to servers known to be malicious.
Adware is less likely to destroy your system than other threats, but is often annoying and Kapersky can delete it without issue. There are interface tweaks that optimise getting a protection status update. In addition, this software has undergone optimisation so it runs quickly, and uses fewer resources to get the job done.
Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2019: Price
The price of this software remains quite competitive. Kaspersky Anti-Virus currently costs $29.99/£23 to protect a single PC, with a one-year license. There is also the option to add devices and extend the subscription to a five device, two-year license which is only $79.99/£61, and averages to a low $7.99/£6 per device year, including a first year discount.
For the protection of multiple platforms, Kaspersky Total Security is worth considering. There are additional elements that get added to secure PCs, Macs and mobile OS, for a mildly higher cost of $49/£38 for the protection of five devices, for the one-year license, or $99.99/£77 for the two year license, which averages approximately $10/£8 per device, for each year of coverage.
Whatever the number of devices that need to be secured, all Kaspersky consumer products feature a full 30-day trial. It is 100% free to download and give it a test drive on your PC, without providing any payment details.
Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2019: Setup
Kaspersky has a simple, streamlined and fast installation process. The trial is found via download links located on their website, and the installer is a compact download. First, accept the license agreement, and the installation package will automatically download and proceed to set up.
Even lacking a license, and not inputting our email address, the installation happened. We did have to go through a quick 'Activate Trial License' link, and our Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2019 setup completed.
Truthfully, it was not completely done, with Kapersky’s dashboard indicating an issue: to update the signatures and program files. Many competitors automatically perform this step during the installation, but having control over an update is an asset for some. Finally, with a single click, the program fully updates.
Kaspersky Anti-Virus uses a reasonable 275MB (approximately) of hard drive space, with a mere two core processes running in the background, again requiring a relatively lightweight 90MB RAM. It’s safe to say that it runs light on system resources.
An antivirus program has the requirement to secure itself from any malware, so we put it through its paces with some simple tests that tried to modify, or go further and delete, some of the Kaspersky files. Through this testing, the conclusion is that this package can more than take care of itself, and none of these attacks caused any harm to this antivirus software.
Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2019: Features
Kaspersky Anti-Virus features a simple interface which shows the current protection status through a clean visual display of a green indicator. There are four main buttons that cover the essential tasks: scan launch, database update, report viewing, and accessing the on-screen keyboard.
The Scan panel launches into a quick or full system scan, and can also fully sanitize an entire external drive, or be targeted to specific files and folders. A shortcoming though is that more navigation is required in comparison to the competition; for instance it takes three clicks via the console for initiating a Quick Scan. But this system is easy enough to use, with more than enough available options.
Kaspersky claims that their latest version is their quickest ever. Our tests do confirm this bold claim, as the Quick and Full Scans were both above the average for antivirus suites on our benchmarking on our review PC.
There is also a simple scheduler to run various scan types on an automated basis, which can be specified to schedule scans on a daily (weekday or weekend), weekly or monthly basis. Also, a custom configuration can be employed for scheduling a scan for the next day in case the computer is turned off. This minimizes the performance impact by limiting scans to when the computer is locked, or the screensaver is engaged.
Kaspersky Anti-Virus allows the user to finely control each scan type, such as specifics for the zone to be disinfected, the file type for examination, a detection engine choice, and the action for detected threats – disinfecting the file, deleting it, or asking for next steps.
There are plenty of benefits to this higher level of flexibility, for example speeding up Quick Scans by configuring Kapersky to pass over old files, only scrubbing new and modified files. Or to limit Full System Scans to scrubbing only in certain, designated network folders. Being able to have this level of granular control does have some trade-offs, as optimizing the scans can certainly increase the speed, while reducing the level of anti-malware.
For all the included options, we still would have liked to have seen even more choices to create truly novel, custom scan types. We would definitely like the option to create an 'Ultra Quick Scan' with just a few clicks, while still keeping the option for the original Quick Scan, thereby leaving us with the choice. We also note that major competitors such as Avast and Avira do provide these types of choice, so power users may be on the lookout for this, but Kaspersky users are limited to only the existing scan types.
Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2019: Bonus features
Kaspersky Anti-Virus does more than regular scanning via a generous helping of bonus features. These include the uncomplicated on-screen keyboard, always available to give protected logins for user credentials, account numbers and other sensitive details that benefit from a more secure approach. We pitted it against more than one commercial keylogger software, and none were able to record our keystrokes.
The Vulnerability Scan can assess how secure your system is, assessing expired security patches, poorly configured Windows settings, and even more. On our PC, this scan found that the autorun for removable drives got enabled by default, thereby exposing a potential vulnerability to USB key-based malware, which was fixed with a few clicks.
The Windows Troubleshooting Wizard searches for any non-standard operating systems, which has the potential to be malware, and fixes them up in a jiffy. While this sounds really useful, also realise that we are in the dark as to the number of issues this deals with. Firing it up on our review PC failed to discover any new issues, except for the autorun issue above that we were already aware of.
The Browser Configuration Wizard again overpromises, which is a shame as this module limits itself to configuration issues with only a solitary browser – Internet Explorer – which is not even the browser of choice for most users. At worst, at least this browser engine is used by some other applications, so even for alternative browser users, fixing their IE issues can potentially raise the security of their system.
The Privacy Cleaner works to locate and remove windows, and activity records, out of your browsing history, lists of cookies for Recent Documents, recent programs run, recent folders used, and so forth. There really nothing wrong with this software, but like others in this suite, it’s simply not a standout, which is exacerbated with the realisation that there are boatloads of dedicated freeware software available with identical functionality.
Next up is the Kaspersky Rescue Disk, a bootable environment designed to detect and remove deeply embedded threats, which have the potential for corrupting Windows and can prevent it from booting. While this is a useful feature that most will welcome, power users know that this feature is entirely free for everybody to download on the Kaspersky website. Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2018 is only giving the download link.
In summary, Kaspersky is somewhat weak in the bonus feature department, and is behind its competition. To compare, Avast Free Antivirus has a free Wi-Fi Inspector to locate wireless vulnerabilities, weak passwords, and out of date software patches. Also, Bitdefender Antivirus Plus (opens in new tab) offers additional features that include a password manager, protection for online banking activities, and an integrated bootable rescue mode. We can say that most do not select their antivirus program only for the available bonus features, but we would like to see Kaspersky offer such additional features in the future.
Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2019: Protection
AV-Comparatives' Real-World Protection reports on the performance of the leading antivirus engines when sent up against a full panel of known, and yet to be identified malware threats.
In their July 2018 report (opens in new tab), Kaspersky gets ranked in first place among 18 antivirus suites. It also was the only suite to achieve this perfect score, neutralizing an uber-high 100% of tested malware, and equally impressive – with no false alarms.
Reports do vary from month to month, so we sought another opinion, and looked at AV-Comparatives' February to June report (opens in new tab), a summary of their 5 tests. For this round of testing, Kaspersky came in 4th place among 18 contenders, just behind Trend Micro, F-Secure and Bitdefender (opens in new tab). We consider this result as strong, with an impressively high 99.7% of threats neutralized, along with just a single false positive. Trend Micro and F-Secure did block a tad more threats, but their downside is that they both had a higher number of false alerts, 38 and 111, respectively, which indicates some misidentification of the potential threats.
AV-Test's June 2018 Windows testing (opens in new tab) is also quite positive for Kaspersky's suite. It was awarded top scores in multiple areas, which include protection, performance and ease of use. Out of the pack of eighteen antivirus suites that competed, only two, Avira and McAfee, are able to match the score that Kaspersky achieved.
With these dedicated labs having a whole lot more time and resources to dedicate to testing, we cannot replicate what these leading testing labs are able to do. However, we want to go beyond just simply accepting their verdicts as fact. Therefore, utilizing some smaller scale testing of our own custom design, we independently ran Kaspersky’s suite through its paces.
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We used Quttera (opens in new tab), which is known for website scanning, and got their list of 600 newly suspected URLs. We then tested to see how many of these URLs would be blocked by Webroot SecureAnywhere (opens in new tab), and Kaspersky Anti-Virus. We are aware that this is only a rough estimate of what these programs are capable of, these suspected URLs are only a few hours old and only a subset are really confirmed to be malicious. However, against those disclaimers, Webroot SecureAnywhere performed poorly with only 38 sites blocked, but Kaspersky Anti-Virus was stronger, blocking 61 sites.
Finally, we tasked Kaspersky against our simple ransomware simulator of our own design. Although it is not particularly robust or complicated, from the homebrew design, there is absolutely no chance it can be a previously identified threat to Kaspersky, which makes it rely on behavior monitoring alone to identify this ransomware.
The test ransomware was initiated, and the Kaspersky System Watcher module studied the simulated ransomware’s behavior. There was a rapid realization that this ransomware represented a threat and the process was shut down. Kaspersky then totally deleted the ransomware file. The simulator did encrypt some document files prior to Kaspersky neutralizing it but this was also no problem, as Kaspersky Anti-Virus efficiently decrypted and restored the original files. This performance is impressive, and demonstrates that Kaspersky protects against totally new and undiscovered threats with ease.