Kaspersky Antivirus Review

Kaspersky cops a bad rap for its Russian origins, but the research and our tests suggest it’s still a high-quality antivirus service.

Kaspersky
Kaspersky
4.3 out of 5 stars
4.25

Kaspersky offers a few too many products, but the pricing is comparatively cheap and the protection is admirable. Better still, there’s a great free version if you want to try before you buy.

Nathan Lawrence
Researcher & Writer
May 23, 2022

While Norton and McAfee may be familiar to more people, Kaspersky has been copping a pass from review sites lately because of its Russian roots. While the current global climate makes these misgivings topical, our main focus is on whether Kaspersky is an antivirus product that protects from viruses and malware, and whose performance can stand shoulder to shoulder with other industry juggernauts.

Pro Heading
Pros
Pro Bullet Competitive pricing
Pro Bullet Strong security suite
Pro Bullet Perfect AV-Test scores
Pro Bullet Less likely to flag false positives
Con Heading
Cons
Con Bullet Confusing number of plans
Con Bullet Imperfect threat protection
Con Bullet Bare-bolts entry-level plan
Con Bullet Slow to install, slow database updates

Kaspersky price

Best cheap antivirus
Kaspersky
Kaspersky
Our Rating
4.3 out of 5 stars
4.25
Starts at
$39.95
/yr

Price is accurate as of post date. Read full disclaimer.

The hardest hurdle of Kaspersky might be its overwhelming number of options. With more than a dozen products to choose from, you can thankfully simplify things by sticking with the three main options. Alternatively, start with Kaspersky Security Cloud – Free for no charge or a 30-day money-back trial on the premium antivirus plans.

Prices for Kaspersky Anti-Virus start at $39.95 for one PC, three PCs for $69.95, or five PCs for $129.95. Kaspersky Internet Security is the main version—compatible with Windows, MacOS, and Android—and prices start at $41.95 annually for one device and stretch up to $129.95 for five devices.

Finally, Kaspersky Total Security prices start at $59.95 for one device and jumps to $149.95 typical annual pricing for five devices (including iOS). Alternatively, opt for all of Kaspersky’s security products with Kaspersky Security Cloud (Personal and Family versions available) starting from $114.95 for three devices in the first year and going up to $191.95 for the first year for 10 devices.

You can save money by opting for a two-year subscription (unlike Norton) on the non-Security Cloud plans, and Kaspersky accepts payments from Visa, Mastercard, and American Express credit cards.

Kaspersky features

Of the three main plans available for Kaspersky’s antivirus service, there are three common inclusions:

  • Real-time antivirus
  • Anti-phishing
  • Performance optimisation

Kaspersky Internet Security adds the following features on top of what Kaspersky Anti-Virus offers:

  • Payment protection
  • Smart VPN
  • Ad blocker
  • Private browsing
  • Webcam protection
  • Adult content blocker
  • Screen-time management

Kaspersky Total Security has all of the inclusions listed above, but also features:

  • GPS child locator
  • File protection
  • Password manager

Kaspersky sign-up and setup process

Once you’ve tackled the challenge of picking the best Kaspersky plan for your needs, remembering to choose the number of devices you want to protect, things are a lot more straightforward. For Windows, an initially small download opens an installer that prompts you to install Kaspersky Password Manager as well as optional optimal protection. This latter feature sends data by design, but it ultimately provides better real-time protection.

I unchecked password manger but left the other option selected for my Windows software tests. Kaspersky flagged McAfee Site Advisor as incompatible but automatically removed it as part of the installation. After a restart, the Kaspersky installer automatically downloaded the 200MB-ish software and eventually installed after a comparatively slow process. There are some final prompts for ad-blocking, malicious tool deleting, and malware detection options, all of which are toggled on by default.

On the Android app, just download Kaspersky Antivirus & VPN, give it the one permission it asks for, and be sure to hit the little ‘x’ to ensure you’re using the free version. The initially requested quick scan took under 10 seconds in my test, then impressed with a range of basic and advanced features, including an optional call filter and data-leak checker (the latter needs a Kaspersky account).

Kaspersky user experience

While the Android app doesn’t require an account, the Windows version asks you to enter a username and secure password. There’s an immediate offer to trial the premium version, but you can just as easily proceed with Kaspersky’s free antivirus. The software tour is painless enough that it’s worth the 20 seconds to see what Kaspersky offers.

After that, it’s a very user-friendly dashboard with the main tools. Manually force an up-to-date database refresh, scan your computer or attached devices, and toggle on different levels of privacy protection. This dashboard is where you’ll also find the Kaspersky VPN, which has a 200MB daily limit on the free version or unlimited with premium.

For those seeking more options, click on the ‘More tools’ button at the bottom of the dashboard to find additional security tools. Most of these are flagged as part of different premium plans, but the free version impressively still has a file shredder, data cleaner, and privacy cleaner. If your need for antivirus is because of an infected machine, the Security tab has an easy link to a highly recommended Kaspersky Rescue Disk for disinfecting compromised PCs. Otherwise, there’s always the free version of Malwarebytes.

Whether you’re on mobile or computer, the Kaspersky basics are easy to find and even easier to use, plus there are plenty of advanced features for those who like to enhance their antivirus experience.

Kaspersky virus and malware protection

Being able to reliably test antivirus software for its primary namesake role is tricky in real-world conditions unless you have a spare machine you’re willing to infect or know your way around virtual machines. Thankfully, authoritative sites like AV-Comparatives and AV-Test do a lot of the hard work of putting the latest available versions of antivirus software through intensive real-world tests to see how well each service performs.

Kaspersky’s results from the recent tests by AV-Comparatives showed a robust antivirus service that rarely missed. Admittedly, the impressive 99.4% threat block rate was beaten by Norton and Bitdefender (100% each), albeit identical to Avast and AVG. McAfee lagged behind the pack of popular antivirus providers with a 96.1% threat-protection score.

AV-Test is the other main source we use to evaluate antivirus services in terms of threat protection. The respected outlet uses a six-point scale to measure protection, performance, and usability for Android, MacOS, and Windows versions of antivirus software (unfortunately not iOS). Here’s how Kaspersky scored:

Antivirus
Protection
Performance
Usability
Kaspersky Internet Security 11.82 (Android)666
Kaspersky Internet Security 21.1 (MacOS)666
Kaspersky Internet Security 21.3 (Windows)666
Norton 360 5.29 (Android)666
Norton 360 8.7 (MacOS)666
Norton 360 22.1 (Windows)666
McAfee Mobile Security 6.6 (Android)5.566
McAfee Total Protection 25.4 (Windows)666
AVG AntiVirus Free 6.46 (Android)666
AVG AntiVirus 20.1 (MacOS)666
AVG Internet Security 21.11666
Bitdefender Mobile Security 3.3 (Android)666
Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac 9.0666
Bitdefender Internet Security 26.0 (Windows)665.5
Avast Mobile Security 6.46 (Android)666
Avast Security 15.1 (MacOS)666
Avast Free AntiVirus 21.11 (Windows)666

While 6/6 perfect scores were common in these recent AV-Test real-time results, with only McAfee and Bitdefender slightly lagging with a couple of individual platforms scores, Kaspersky has a perfect rating across all three categories and platforms.

Kaspersky vs other antivirus services

Check out the table below for the key differences between Kaspersky and its most popular antivirus peers.

Antivirus
Best for
Initial annual price
Number of devices
Threat protection
Learn more
Review
Best antivirus software overall10100%
Best cheap antivirus software1, 3, 5, or 799.40%
Best antivirus for families5 or 3099.40%
Best antivirus for enhanced security3100%
Best antivirus for first-timers1 or 1099.40%
Best runner-up596.10%

Prices are accurate as of post date. Read full disclaimer.

Final word

If you can get your head around the many plan variations, Kaspersky is an affordable and reliable antivirus service. There’s a free version and a 30-day money-back trial to take advantage of if you’re uncertain, and while Bitdefender and Norton are better picks, Kaspersky is a fully featured contender that’s nipping at the heels of those top antivirus picks.

How we review antivirus software

Our antivirus testing starts with basic feature comparisons, including pricing and whether there’s a free version or easily accessible free trial. Letting people try before they buy scores well with us. Then we check to ensure antivirus software includes critical features like real-time protection and speedy scanning tools, ideally without a massive performance impact on compatible devices.

The ease of installation is then evaluated as well as how well an antivirus service guides the user and encourages them to explore additional security settings (where available). Antivirus software that also includes extended features—like a VPN, password manager, digital file shredder or other bolt-ons—scores points for versatility.

Ultimately, though, we always go back to how well an antivirus service performs on key metrics: namely, threat protection and performance impact. For these factors, we defer to the extensive ongoing testing data that’s readily available from antivirus authorities AV-Comparatives and AV-Test. If antivirus software scores well in those external tests, it has a great chance of scoring well with us, too.

FAQ

Below are the answers to some of the most pressing Kaspersky questions.

No, while Kaspersky is based in Moscow, it’s a robust antivirus service that offers competitive protection when stacked next to its most popular peers. If you’re uncertain, check out Kaspersky’s stellar record in AV-Test reports.

It’s a close showdown between McAfee and Kaspersky, but we think that Kaspersky has the edge because of its free version, better pricing, and more comprehensive threat protection.
This is another tight race, but Norton has the wood on Kaspersky because of its incredible reliability when it comes to blocking more threats.

Disclaimer
Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time of publish and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on the retailer’s website at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. SafeWise Australia utilises paid affiliate links.
Nathan Lawrence
Written by
Nathan Lawrence

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