Kaspersky cops a bad rap for its Russian origins, but the research and our tests suggest it’s still a high-quality antivirus service.
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.
Kaspersky recently did a complete overhaul of its antivirus product suite, simplifying inclusions across three plans.
At the time of writing, prices for the bare-bones Kaspersky Standard plan start at $25.95 for one device, three devices for $26.95, five devices for $28.95, and 10 devices for $30.95.
For more protection, Kaspersky Plus starts at $29.95 annually for one device and stretches up to $34.95 for 10 devices.
Finally, the Kaspersky Premium plan starts at $30.99 for one device and jumps to $41.95 typical annual pricing for 10 devices (including iOS). This plan also comes with one year of Kaspersky Safe Kids for free.
All plans are compatible across Windows, Mac, Android and iOS devices, and you can save money on the two cheaper plans by opting for a two-year subscription. Kaspersky accepts payments from Visa, Mastercard, and American Express credit cards.
Of the three main plans available for Kaspersky’s antivirus service, there are three common inclusions:
- Real-time antivirus, antimalware and anti-ransomware protection
- Safe web browsing
- Existing virus removal
- Two-way firewall
- Performance optimisation
- Device space cleanup
- Do not disturb mode
- App management
- Payment protection
- Stalkerware detection
Kaspersky Plus adds the following features on top of what Kaspersky Standard offers:
- Hard drive health monitor
- Unlimited VPN
- Home Wi-Fi monitoring
- Password manager
Kaspersky Premium has all of the inclusions listed above, but also features:
- Identity protection wallet
- Data leak checker
- Password safety checker
- 24/7 remote IT support
- Expert virus check and removal
- Expert PC health check
Kaspersky sign-up and setup process
Once you’ve picked 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 99.7% threat block rate was beaten by Avast AVG, Norton, Trend Micro and McAfee.
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:
|Kaspersky Internet Security 11.82 (Android)||6||6||6|
|Kaspersky Internet Security 21.1 (MacOS)||6||6||6|
|Kaspersky Internet Security 21.3 (Windows)||6||6||6|
|Norton 360 5.29 (Android)||6||6||6|
|Norton 360 8.7 (MacOS)||6||6||6|
|Norton 360 22.1 (Windows)||6||6||6|
|McAfee Mobile Security 6.6 (Android)||5.5||6||6|
|McAfee Total Protection 25.4 (Windows)||6||6||6|
|AVG AntiVirus Free 6.46 (Android)||6||6||6|
|AVG AntiVirus 20.1 (MacOS)||6||6||6|
|AVG Internet Security 21.11||6||6||6|
|Bitdefender Mobile Security 3.3 (Android)||6||6||6|
|Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac 9.0||6||6||6|
|Bitdefender Internet Security 26.0 (Windows)||6||6||5.5|
|Avast Mobile Security 6.46 (Android)||6||6||6|
|Avast Security 15.1 (MacOS)||6||6||6|
|Avast Free AntiVirus 21.11 (Windows)||6||6||6|
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.
Initial annual price
Number of devices
|Best antivirus software overall||$79.99||10||99.9%||View on Bitdefender||Read review|
|Best cheap antivirus software||From $30.99||1, 3, 5, or 10||99.6%||View on Kaspersky||Read review|
|Best antivirus for families||From $41.99||5 or 30||99.6%||View on Avast||Read review|
|Best antivirus for enhanced security||$89.99||3||100%||View on Norton||Read review|
|Best antivirus for first-timers||From $46.40||1 or 10||99.6%||View on AVG||Read review|
|Best runner-up||From $84.95||5||97.4%||View on McAfee||Read review|
|Best for infected devices||From $44.99||1 or 5||99.9%||View on Malwarebytes||Read review|
|Best for device diversity||From $69||2, 4, or 6||100%||View on Trend Micro||Read review|
|Best for fewest false positives||From $59.95||1 to 10||98.4%||View on ESET||Read review|
Prices are accurate as of post date. Read full disclaimer.
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.
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.