Kaspersky antivirus review: How safe is it in 2022?

Abeerah Hashim Last updated: June 1, 2022
Disclosure

Kaspersky is an elite antivirus for malware detection, but what does a closer look at it says? Learn that all and determine if it’s suitable for you.

A computer virus or malware can be dangerous as it can delete your files, damage programs, and even reformat your hard drive. Some can even flood your networks with traffic, slowing down your computer’s performance. Kaspersky has a long-standing reputation for protecting against online threats with local scanning and cloud-based machine learning. 

The antivirus is also packed with valuable features like parental controls, password manager, stalkerware protection, a secure browser for online transactions, etc.

While its malware scanner didn’t recognize some threats during our tests, it is way ahead of its competition. The antivirus has fast speeds and leaves a negligible impact on your computer’s performance.

It is worth noting that Kaspersky is based in Moscow, Russia but has operations in other parts of the world. So, there are concerns that economic sanctions against Russia due to the Ukraine invasion could affect Kaspersky operations. Also, the US government banned Kaspersky because of its alleged involvement with Russian intelligence. 

Nonetheless, is the antivirus safe to use today? Read on this unbiased review of Kaspersky to find out. 

Kaspersky pros and cons 

Pros Cons 
Minimal impact on the system performance
User-friendly
Regularly updated database with the latest threats and viruses
TDSKILLER looks for rootkits and bootkits
24/7 chat, phone, and email support 
Effective ransomware protection 
Slightly pricier than competitors
Low trust because of the 2017 scandal
Concerns of continuity after the sanctions due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine
Ties with the Russian Intelligence 

Of course, like other premium antivirus programs, Kaspersky’s features depend on the subscription package you pick. This ranges from basic features for the lowest plan to advanced features with additional tools for the premium plans. 

Kaspersky security features 

Here are some of the notable security features that Kaspersky offers

Antivirus engine

Kaspersky’s malware scanner uses a combination of a virus database and cloud machine learning to identify malware. If the first scan detects anything potentially malicious, it sends the file to the cloud-based artificial intelligence scanner for further analysis.  

The malware detection rate is excellent as it caught all of our malware samples when testing it. Other top brands such as McAfee, Norton, and BitDefender also use this mechanism to detect malware. 

Kaspersky offers five different virus scans:

  • Quick scan – Scans system memory files, startup files, and boot sectors.
  • Full scan – A complete scan of every folder, file, and partitioned sector of your system.
  • Selective scan – Lets you scan any file, drive, or folder you like.
  • Removable Drive Scan – Enables you to scan external drives like USD drives and hard drives. 
  • Vulnerability – Checks for vulnerabilities in your system like infected software and out-of-date applications.

The antivirus also comes with numerous scan-scheduling options such as after every update, at the specified time, after rebooting the application, etc. 

We used over 1000 malware samples such as viruses, rootkits, ransomware, Trojans, and keyloggers to test Kaspersky during our scan. 


Quick scan 

First, we did the quick scan that only took 3 minutes to complete, which is pretty fast compared to other antiviruses in the market. 

The quick scan detected a few malware samples. It is understandable as the quick scan only checks the critical areas, such as those that load when the system starts up. 

Full scan 

The full scan runs for around 40 minutes, quicker than its competitors like Bitdefender. This scan is excellent as it identified all the malware samples on our computer. Also, the scan didn’t cause any slow down or performance issues to our system. 

After completing the scan, the antivirus presented the detected malware in the Quarantine window. Thankfully, it didn’t have any false positives.

Note: Cancelling the scan midway will not resolve malware issues in your system. However, the Notification Center offers more options to handle malware if the scan is interrupted.

Vulnerability scan 

Lastly, we did a vulnerability scan to check for susceptible applications on our system that could be infected with malware. It identified four outdated applications that we didn’t know existed in our system. 

The scan report was very detailed, showing a full rundown of all the present vulnerabilities. Unfortunately, however, Kaspersky doesn’t have an option to update apps like Avira, one of its biggest competitors. 

Generally, Kaspersky’s antivirus engine is impressive. It has a one-perfect detection rate with multiple scans, outstanding real-time protection, and has minimal impact on the system performance.

Real-time protection 

Kaspersky’s real-time protection runs silently in the background all the time, scanning your entire system. It worked perfectly during our tests, blocking the malware samples we tried to download. In addition, we received a notification every time Kaspersky detected malware with an option to see more details or remove it altogether.


Web protection 

Kaspersky has multiple web protection layers. The first is the web antivirus feature that checks the websites you visit against a database of malicious websites. Also, it uses heuristic analysis to identify URLs with suspicious behavior. 

Second, there is the protection browser extension that detects malicious links. It also blocks trackers and ads, marks sites as safe/unsafe, and allows you to use the virtual keyboard to avoid keyloggers malware. 

Moreover, the anti-phishing feature is effective at blocking malicious websites. We tested the feature on Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Microsoft Edge. 

In addition, Kaspersky has an anti-tracking feature that blocks invasive trackers from web analytics, social networks, ad agencies, and web beacons. However, the default settings allow the company and its partners to collect users’ data. It may raise privacy concerns, although there is an option to block it. The best solution is to notify users about this practice when signing up.

Kaspersky also offers Safe Money, a secure browser you can use with your online finances. When you open a banking site, it will request you to add the site to Safe money. You should use this browser together with the virtual keyboard. The problem is that it takes more time to load than Bitdefender’s Safe Pay secure browser.  

Overall, we were impressed with Kaspersky’s web protection. For example, the web antivirus feature blocked all the malware samples, while the anti-phishing protection blocked most phishing sites. Also, the combination of a secure browser and virtual keyboard will come in handy. 


Password manager

Kaspersky’s password manager uses AES 256-bit encryption and a zero-knowledge policy to safeguard your passwords and other private data. 

Unfortunately, the free version of the password manager can only store 15 passwords. However, you can upgrade to the premium version, which doesn’t limit the number of storable passwords. 

Remember, you will have to install the password manager separately from the antivirus. Also, it will ask you to create a master password when you first open it. Keep the password safe, as Kaspersky won’t help you access the password manager if you lose it. 

While Kaspersky’s zero-knowledge password manager is great, it should also provide account recovery options like Dashlane

Once you import your passwords, you will need to download a browser extension to auto-save and auto-fill the passwords. This worked flawlessly during our tests. However, it only works on PCs and not mobile devices. 

The password vault is effortless to navigate as all the features are clearly labeled for easier accessibility. Besides passwords, it will also help you protect your documents, bank cards, addresses, and notes. There is also an option to create as many folders as you need to organize your passwords. 

Kaspersky’s password generator is impressive and is accessible from the browser extension and app. It creates strong passwords of up to 99 characters, including uppercase and lowercase alphabets, symbols, and numbers. However, it doesn’t have an option to create ‘easy to say’ and ‘easy to read’ passwords like LastPass

Overall, although Kaspersky’s password manager will come in handy, it lacks many features you can get with standalone password managers. However, the password manager is easy to use and will help you store your passwords and sensitive data.


Virtual Private Network (VPN)

Kaspersky offers a free VPN included in the Total Security and Internet Security plans. Sadly, it only allows you to connect to only a single server. In addition, the VPN doesn’t have unlimited browsing data, even on the highest-tier payment plan. On the contrary, Norton’s VPN has unlimited data, even with the cheapest packages.

Nonetheless, Kaspersky offers the option to upgrade to the premium VPN version known as Secure Connection. It has unlimited browsing data, a kill switch, servers in 30+ countries, and smart protection. 

We conducted a speed test on both the free and premium versions of the VPN. Here is how they performed. 

Ping Download Upload 
Without a VPN9ms 37.12Mbps 4.83Mbps 
Free VPN 48ms 19.65Mbps 6.82Mbps 
Premium VPN 18ms 36.40Mbps 2.91 Mbps 

As you can see in the table above, our download speed dropped significantly when we connected to the free VPN. Also, the ping and upload speed were reduced, especially when we tried to download torrents

On the other hand, the drop in the download speed was unnoticeable with Kaspersky’s premium VPN. Also, the ping is considerably lower, which is good for speed. But, surprisingly, the upload speed got reduced even more than with the free VPN version.

Thankfully, Kaspersky premium VPN unblocks popular streaming services such as Netflix. So, if you have traveled abroad, the VPN will help you spoof your location to continue watching your favorite show back home. It is better than Avira’s VPN. 

While the free VPN is pretty basic, the premium version has valuable features such as more servers, faster speed, and unblocks streaming sites. However, it doesn’t come with Kaspersky’s antivirus package, so you must purchase it separately.


Parental control 

Kaspersky offers a parental control feature known as Safe Kids that will help you protect your kids online. However, you will have to download it as a separate app, as it is not included with the antivirus package. 

The setup process is simple, and there is even an easy-to-follow guide. Also, it offers information on how to advise your children about internet safety. Safe Kids comes with the following features: 

  • Content filtering on apps and websites 
  • Data usage limitations 
  • Location tracking 
  • Social network monitoring 

By and large, Kaspersky’s parental control is very comprehensive and works pretty well. It is easy to use and is feature-packed with even active tips on guiding your kids to stay safe online


System Cleanup Tools 

Kaspersky offers various cleanup tools such as PC Cleaner, Privacy Cleaner, and Unused Data Cleaner. 

The PC cleaner looks for browser extensions and applications in your system that you may want to fix or remove. That includes dormant software installed with your computer (bloatware) and applications you no longer use. 

We tested the feature on our Windows PC, and it only took 3 minutes to analyze the system. The results were impressive as the antivirus identified the bloatware in the system and offered options to ignore or remove them.

When using the internet, you leave bits of your data everywhere. The Privacy Cleaner helps clear your browser history, cache, cookies, and other traces of your online data. 

Finally, the Unused Data Cleaner looks for temporary files and logs and files in the recycle bin. It only took 2 minutes to find unused files and offered options to handle them. 

Overall, the Kaspersky system cleanup tools help eliminate unused and unwanted files and remove traces of your online activity. Although these features may not be the best in the market, they work well and will help your computer improve performance a bit. 


Additional feature

Webcam protect

This feature will notify you whenever you open an app that uses your computer’s webcam, such as Zoom and Skype. Although we appreciate this additional protection layer against spyware, it should also offer microphone protection like its competitors, such as Bitdefender. 


Backup and restore 

The backup and restore feature lets you backup files to a cloud service or removable drive. Dropbox is the default option, but you can connect to another storage service of your choice. However, we don’t think this feature brings much value as Dropbox already offers 2G B free storage space. 


Rescue Disk feature 

It is a beneficial feature as it will clean your system if it is infected with malware upon starting it up. However, you will need to download it into a CD/DVD or USB drive and then use it to disinfect your computer.


Data encryption 

The data encryption feature allows you to create a secure vault to store your sensitive information ton with a password. There is also a data shredder to delete files permanently. 


Kaspersky Pricing 

There are three main packages to choose from:

  1. Kaspersky antivirus (basic package)
  2. Internet Security (advanced suite)
  3. Total Security (premium suite)

Sadly, Kaspersky offers a free plan known as Kaspersky Security Cloud Free. While it lacks most premium packages’ features, it will give you basic protection against malware. But you can opt for other options, such as Avira’s free plan, as it has more features. 

Here are some of the features you will get with Kaspersky’s main plans:

Kaspersky anti-virus – Basic plan (Windows only) 

It is the entry-level package that is available for Windows devices only. It includes: 

  • Real-time protection 
  • System tuneup tools 
  • Anti-phishing protection 
  • Rescue disk 
  • Free password manager (stores only 15 passwords) 

It is a decent and affordable option at $29.99/year if you are looking for an easy-to-use and lightweight Windows antivirus product. 


Kaspersky internet security – Best value package 

Fortunately, this plan is available for more devices, including Windows, Android, and macOS devices. It offers the above features, plus: 

  • Webcam protection 
  • Secure web browser 
  • VPN (with 300MB daily data limit) 
  • Free parental controls 
  • Ad and tracking blockers 

The price is slightly higher than the entry-level plan at $39.99 per year, but you will get additional features and protect more devices. 


Kaspersky total security – Premium package

This plan supports major operating systems such as macOS, Windows, Android, and iOS. It comes with the above features and adds the following: 

  • Premium password manager 
  • Data encryption (Windows only) 
  • Premium Parental controls 
  • Backup and Restore 

The package is available at $59.99/year, but it is a good choice if you want a strong antivirus with a password manager and parental controls.


Kaspersky setup and usability 

Kaspersky apps are easy to install and set up, while the interface is pretty intuitive. As a result, you can easily access the main features such as the antivirus scanner, password manager, and secure browser.  

At the same time, some features are difficult to access. For example, you have to click on ‘More Tools’ > ‘Clean and Optimize’ > then ‘PC Cleaner’ to use the PC cleaner feature. 

We were impressed with the Notification Centre, which you can easily access in the main dashboard. From here, you can easily turn on/off essential functions. 

It might take you some time to familiarize yourself with Kaspersky’s interface layout, but it’s effortless once you get used to it. Also, we liked the customization options as they give freedom to interact with the antivirus.

Kaspersky has an internet security app that you can install on your Android or iOS devices. 

Kaspersky iOS app 

The antivirus offers Security Cloud that has the following features:

  • Adaptive security – Automatically alters the settings based on your behavior. For example, it will activate the VPN whenever you connect to a public network. 
  • Account check – Checks vulnerability in your email for data breaches. 
  • Security lives – Solves weak settings in your iOS. 
  • QR scanner – This feature allows you to scan codes and safely access encrypted information. 

Kaspersky Android mobile app

However, the Android app has more features than its iOS counterpart. 

  • Real-time protection 
  • Antivirus scanner 
  • Anti-theft 
  • Call blocker 
  • App lock 
  • Browsing protection 
  • Anti-smishing 

It does a quick, full, and folder scan. We tested it by hiding 80 malware samples on an Android phone. Thankfully, it detected all the malware samples files within 3 minutes and quarantined them automatically. 

In addition, real-time protection performs very well. Besides identifying all the malware traces, it also blocked malicious app downloads on Google Play. While this is a great feature, the Norton Mobile Security App Advisor warns you about a dangerous app before downloading it. 

The mobile app also features anti-theft protection. However, you will first need to create a Kaspersky account to access ‘My Kaspersky’ online hub. This feature allows you to sound an alarm, lock or wipe the device or take a picture of the thief. There are also options to prevent uninstalling the Kaspersky app and block your phone if the thief inserts a new SIM card. 

Finally, we tested the free VPN on the mobile app. So, we connected to the only available server with a 200MB daily data limit. So, we first turned off the mobile data before doing the speed test. 

The results are as below: 

PingDownload Upload 
VPN turned off 9ms24.76Mbps6.42 Mbps
VPN turned on 48ms16.93Mbps5.68Mbps

As you can see above, the drop in the download speed isn’t as much as on the PC version of the free VPN. Also, the upload speed was reduced by only a tiny margin. However, the ping increased significantly, which is not suitable for gaming. 

Overall, the Kaspersky mobile app does excellent work scanning and detecting malware. However, it lacks crucial features offered by its competitors like Avira, such as network scanners, optimization, and identity protection. 


Kaspersky customer support

Kaspersky has multiple customer support options, including:

  • Email support 
  • Phone support 
  • 24/7 live chat 
  • Knowledge base 

Navigating through the customer support section is a bit difficult. It seems like the company wants you to first consult the knowledge base before contacting the representative. 

The problem is that you have to fill out a form and accept another prompt to access the phone or live chat options. Fortunately, the customer agent answered the call and solved our issues quickly. Also, we tested the email method, and the response came within a day. 

Overall, getting help with Kaspersky is a longer process than some of its competitors. Thankfully, the customer support agents are knowledgeable and will help you solve issues promptly. 

Verdict: Is Kaspersky a safe antivirus?

Yes, Kaspersky is a secure antivirus. However, it was involved in a severe scandal where the US government accused it of collaborating with Russian Intelligence. These claims damaged the company’s reputation significantly, prompting it to start the Global Transparency initiative to restore the trust of its users. 

The great news is that Kaspersky’s malware detection rate is similar to big players like Bitdefender, McAfee, and Norton. It also has outstanding web protection features like anti-phishing protection, a virtual keyboard, a secure browser, and anti-tracking protection. 

Kaspersky also offers various additional tools such as clean tools, password manager, a VPN, file encryption, parental controls, etc. Notably, we liked the parental controls because they allow you to filter content, use schedule, track location, and monitor social media. 

However, Kaspersky lacks key features its competitors offer, such as identity theft protection, dark web monitoring, and a full-featured VPN. Also, we were disappointed with the customer support as contacting the representatives is tedious. 

But overall, Kaspersky is a reliable internet security package with an intuitive dashboard, plenty of useful features, and reasonable prices. The company also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee to allow you to test the product risk-free (the money-guarantee policy may differ with your location).

Bottom line

With all said and done, Kaspersky provides sufficient protection against malware and comes with tons of helpful security features. In addition, it has reasonably priced packages that come with a 30-day money-back guarantee. It performed exemplary in all the tests we did.

Although it was accused of espionage in 2017, it has put a lot of effort into improving transparency and restoring trust. But as privacy enthusiasts, we cannot stress enough to proceed with caution if a firm providing internet security is accused of being an espionage avenue.

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