Kaspersky Internet Security 2013 review

Pros

  • Thorough initial scan
  • Key logging protection
  • Online banking security
  • Quick file scan widget for Vista / 7

Cons

  • Full scan is relatively slow
  • System overhead higher than competitors

Kaspersky is one of the big names in Internet Security and Kaspersky Internet Security 2013 (KIS 2013) is a well-specified suite with several extras found in few, or sometimes none, of its competitors. It also includes Cloud-based zero-day protection, using the status of thousands of customers’ machines to help produce quick responses to brand new threats.

Like most other security suites, Kaspersky Internet Security 2013 comes with three Windows licences, allowing you to keep a home or small office protected for a year. At £49.99 including VAT, this is also one of the more affordable security suites on the market.

Interface

KIS 2013 offers main modules like anti-virus, anti-spam, parental controls and a two-way firewall. It then adds in SafeMoney to improve online banking security and a new Secure Keyboard, which acts against keyloggers. It also claims reduced battery drain when used on laptops and netbooks, and compatibility with Windows 8.

People using Windows Vista and 7 also benefit from a Widget that offers quick access to settings and reports and a quick, drag and drop, anti-virus scan.

The main control screen shows simple status information at the top of the pane with a sliding bar of operational icons at the bottom. There are nine of these, covering obvious functions like scanner and update, but also less common ones, like a network monitor, the virtual keyboard and extra tools. Click on the icons to call up supplementary pages, where you can control their actions and see the results.

There are three other buttons at the top of the control screen, labelled Cloud protection, Reports and Settings. Cloud protection shows the current statistics for Kaspersky’s security network and in particular the numbers of safe and dangerous data objects it has analysed and those it is still processing.

Reports shows the number of events and protections undertaken in the last day, week or month. Settings leads to a very thorough set of screens, where almost any aspect of the program can be tweaked. Here are controls to turn individual protection for things like email and Web on and off and to switch on the Gaming Profile, to suppress some KIS 2013 functions, like notifications, while playing.

Usability test results

Running a test scan on our 30GB file bundle produced a surprising result. The scan took two hours 24 minutes to check 560,566 files. This is a long time, but doesn’t indicate a slow scanner, as the number of files examined is considerably larger than with, for example, BitDefender Antivirus Plus 2013. That program took 20 minutes 10 seconds to scan the same bundle, but only checked 50,844 files.

The are multiple reasons for this apparent discrepancy. The most likely is the difference in the algorithms used by the two applications to decide which files could contain a threat, before scanning them for malicious code. Kaspersky appears to use a brute force technique and tests pretty much all the files in the selected folders. The scan rate averaged 389 files per second, over twice as high as from any other AV scanner we’ve reviewed.

We repeated the scan, to see if the program learned from its first pass and fingerprinted the files, so they wouldn’t need to be re-examined. The second scan took 19 minutes and checked 108,677 files, so KIS 2013 appears to fingerprint files, so subsequent scans can be more selective.

The other discrepancy between AV products, which can account for wildly different file counts is the way those counting routines work. It’s possible, for example, to consider a Zip archive as either a single file or to count all the compressed files within it.

AV-Test results

The anti-virus test site AV-Test has yet to evaluate KIS 2013, which includes revised anti-spam and anti-phishing modules from last year, but assuming the engines are at least as good as the 2012 product, it will be a very strong contender. That scored 16.5/18.0, only bettered by Bitdefender 2012 in the organisation’s June group test.

Breaking the score down, KIS 2012 managed a perfect 6.0/6.0 for Repair - the ability to restore damaged files and remove all remnants of bad code, after a malware attack. It dropped 0.5 under Protection, against zero-day and new (2-3 month old threats), though it was still above average in both categories.

Under Usability it dropped a full point, suffering from a higher than average slowdown of the tested platform, while it was in daily use. It only gave one false positive in two months of testing, so you’re not likely to suffer from irritating notifications of non-existent problems.

Separately, AV-Test evaluated all the Android security products available back in February of this year and rated Kaspersky Mobile Security in the top group, correctly identifying and dealing with over 90 per cent of malware used for test. It’s one of the best-featured security apps we’ve seen, including anti-theft provision and a voice call and SMS filter.

Verdict

Kaspersky Internet Security 2013 has to be one of the top-ranked suites available. As well as being a very full and thorough program, covering all the main areas needing protection on a PC, it performs well at protecting and repairing machines after attack. While initial scans take a bit longer than expected, the system burden is generally light and overall it’s an application providing very good Internet security.

Test results courtesy of AV-Test.org.