With malware, you don’t want to leave anything to chance. You better be prepared and have some serious protection on your device. Which could mean a hardcore scanning tool, and a mighty malware shield, all packed in one product.
Тhis is what Russian antivirus vendor Kaspersky Lab is aiming with its Kaspersky Total Security pack.
If you have read virtually any Kaspersky review, you already know that Total Security is by far the most popular home product of the company. So let’s dive in and see what Kaspersky Lab has to offer with its best-selling solution.
Total Security is the most expensive of the top three home products that Kaspersky offers. It comes with an annual fee of $79.99 for 1 device.
This is also an introductory price. If you renew your license after the first year, it will cost you more.
There’s also the option to pay in advance for 2 years, the price rises to $229.99, and the license covers 5 devices.
There is a free version of Kaspersky, but it only has core protection functions. This means it can scan for viruses, detect dangerous files, and warn you about suspicious apps and websites.
A 30-day free trial of Kaspersky Total Security is available, and it lets you explore the antivirus software’s capabilities. It is a pretty good choice if you’re still not sure about Kaspersky and just want to take it for a test drive.
In order to run Kaspersky Total Protection, you will need a machine with 1 GHz processor, 2 GB RAM and at least 1150 MB of free disk space.
The first step of the process is to download an installation file, about 150 MB in size. Once you’ve done that, it takes a couple of minutes to complete the installation and run Kaspersky Total Security.
The interface keeps it pretty simple, and so will we in this Kaspersky review. On top of the main screen is the well-known “Your protection is live now” sign with a list of recommendations. Those include reminders about making backup copies of your sensitive files, updating the software’s database, installing additional browser extensions, and others.
Below is the menu with 8 buttons. Using them you can take advantage of all the basic functions of the software. You can:
- perform a scan
- backup files
- set up privacy options
- set parental controls
- log on to your My Kaspersky account
… and a couple of extra others as well.
Most of the basic computer virus protection functions are easy to access straight from the main menu, so you don’t have to waste time looking for them. If you want to dig deeper into personal cybersecurity, you can open the More Tools menu.
From there, you can monitor the traffic in your network, audit applications’ activity, and perform other useful tasks like data encryption and permanent deletion of files.
Kaspersky Total Security gives you far more than your basic antivirus protection. It has a firewall and built-in functions for detecting online threats. You get protection from malware, as well as phishing, identity theft, and personal data leaks.
You also get some nice perks like Safe Money, which protects your financial transactions from Man-In-The-Middle attacks, keyloggers, and other common threats. We should also mention Safe Kids, which protects your children and their devices – this is in addition to the software’s basic Parental Control.
Apart from Kaspersky’s scanning abilities, this antivirus software has a simple, yet effective privacy protection filter. It blocks access to your web camera, so you don’t get spied on.
The Private Browsing feature prevents websites from collecting data about you: such as what you search for on the web, what kind of browser and operating system you use, etc.
Another great feature of this Kaspersky antivirus product is the Parental Control. You can set all kinds of filters and alarms in order to track your child’s activity online. Those include safe search, unsafe content restrictions, gaming restrictions and many more. You can choose time periods when your child can use the computer or access the internet.
Protecting and recovering information is just as important as having the best virus protection. The guys from Kaspersky Lab know this. Total Security comes with a data encryption function that encrypts the folders and files you desire.
Then there’s the File Shredder, a nifty tool that permanently deletes your files. (Surprise, surprise! Usually, when you delete data from your hard drive, it can actually be restored.)
Total Security comes with some goodies like Password Manager and Kaspersky Secure Connection. Password Manager is just what it says it is: it stores your passwords, bank card details, and all other sensitive info, so you don’t have to.
It is a pretty nice addon to the whole package and is handy when you are toggling between all those accounts, trying to remember the correct password.
Even if you have the best virus protection, in today’s world that’s not enough. Payment scams are everywhere, and users need a solution. With Kaspersky’s Safe Money feature you can list all websites you use for financial transactions, and the service will make sure it’s the legitimate site you’re using and not a fake one.
The user is prompted to open every such site with a built-in Protected Browser. It frames a legitimate website in green. If the website is fraudulent, it will have a red frame. This makes it easier to spot malicious websites and helps all a Kaspersky antivirus products stand out from their competitors.
Secure Connection is a VPN service that protects your privacy for free: as long as you stay below the 200MB per day limit. For an additional $4,99 a month you get unlimited data allowance and a set of countries to choose your virtual location from. All in all, it is a nice feature to have alongside your virus protection solution.
There is also a virtual keyboard. You login into your accounts without having to use your regular keyboard, thus decreasing the chance of being keylogged.
Scanning for viruses
Scanning the PC for malware is at the core of any decent virus protection program. Kaspersky is no exception, but the big question is how much time a scan takes and to what extent it impacts the overall system performance.
A full scan with Kaspersky took 96 minutes. It had no considerable impact on system performance. I could still load pages, watch online videos and play music without any lags.
There were some lags while playing a video game, though. However, none of them made it hard for me to enjoy the game.
A quick scan took no more than a few minutes and ran in the background like a charm. Nothing more to say about this in our Kaspersky review.
Other than running the scans manually, you can schedule them on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. There is some further customization you can do: for example, you can schedule scans only on weekdays or weekends.
Phishing protection: 9/10
Kaspersky Total Security does a decent job protecting from phishing attempts. It correctly recognized 9 out of 10 phishing pages currently online at the time of testing. The only miss was a phishing page for stealing banking credentials.
Parental Control Protection: 10/10
Parental Control flawlessly detected all websites with mature content that we tried to load for this Kaspersky Total Security review. It blocked access to pornographic websites, video websites, and pages with gory images. It even blocked access to Youtube.
The one thing that bothered me was the option to easily allow access to a site that has just been blocked. The button is right there on the screen. So even if a page is blocked, a toddler can click on the button and open it anyway. This makes the benefit of this feature questionable.
With Parental Control, you can block transfers of personal data from your device to third parties. Let’s say you’re afraid that the little one might send sensitive data over an instant messenger. By setting up a filter, you can prevent the data from being sent. It’s a useful feature, and other antivirus programs have it as well.
I did some testing and it returned mixed results. The filter was able to block sensitive data that was being sent from Slack. However, it didn’t block sending the same data from Facebook Messenger, nor in an email.
I contacted customer support, but they couldn’t give me a solution. All in all, you can’t safely rely on this feature, making it kind of useless.
Downloading the EICAR Test File
Testing Kaspersky Total Security with the EICAR test file returned no alarming results. The software was able to detect the harmless virus the moment the download started. It could detect the file as an archive as well.
Independent Lab Test
AV-Test has no recent tests on Kaspersky Total Security, so instead, we’ll use the Jan/Feb 2019 test results for Kaspersky Internet Security 19.0.
A basic Kaspersky Total Security vs. Internet security comparison shows there are three main features that are not included in Internet Security: password managing, file protection, and Safe Kids. Other than that, the two products are identical.
AV-Test assigns a perfect 6.0/6.0 score to Kaspersky Internet Security for protection.
The software was flawless in detecting both 0-day malware attacks and widespread malicious code. It had a 100% success rate for both, which is impressive.
Customer support was somewhat disappointing. Phone and chat support is available only in certain countries. If you live elsewhere, you’ll have to rely on email support. That’s what I had to do as well.
It took 18 hours and two emails just to get some kind of response to my query. (Kaspersky Lab’s policy does state that a specific response time is not guaranteed within standard support.)
However, when I followed up with a third email, I had to wait for another 23 hours, before I get any additional guidelines. Communication kept on in the same sluggish manner for a few days until the issue was resolved.
It’s true, sometimes users’ problems are complex and take time to work out. But almost a day just to receive feedback? Not everyone has the nerve to wait that much.
And one more thing. If you’ve spent a fair amount of time reading antivirus reviews, you might be asking yourself: “Is Kaspersky safe?”
The question stems from the fact that the company has been accused of having close ties to the Russian government. The US went as far as to impose a ban on using Kaspersky Lab products by government institutions.
Kaspersky itself denies any cooperation with authorities outside its role to “help investigate cybercrime and catch cybercriminals.”
Whether you choose to trust Kaspersky Lab or the US government is up to you. What I can tell you in this Kaspersky review is the company has a decent security solution for your home. It comes at a reasonable price and has a simplified user interface that makes it easy to operate, even for non-technical users.
- A great all-in-one home cybersecurity solution
- Powerful scanning and antimalware capabilities
- A full scan slows down some of the running applications, albeit not by much
- Sluggish customer support