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Kaspersky Internet Security isn’t Kaspersky’s most powerful security suite – in fact, it’s just one step up from Kaspersky Anti-Virus – but the package still has a surprisingly lengthy feature list.

The suite gets you the top-rated Windows antivirus, for instance, but also provides solid and reliable protection for Mac, iOS and Android.

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Built-in antiphishing keeps you away from dangerous sites. Webcam protection alerts you when apps try to access your camera. A Private Browsing feature detects and blocks trackers, an intelligent firewall blocks network attacks, and Safe Money is a secure desktop browser designed to protect your personal details during web transactions.

Welcome bonus features include a Software Updater to detect and install missing patches, and an on-screen keyboard to keep your details safe from keyloggers and other stealthy threats.

Kaspersky Internet Security includes its Secure Connection VPN, too, but it’s only the very limited free version. You’re unable to choose your location, and the app limits you to just 200MB data per device per day.

There are smaller extras and bonus features, but they’re generally very basic. You get some basic PC clean-up tools, for instance, but they can’t begin to match the freeware CCleaner, and they’re not a patch on the maintenance tools included with Avira Prime.

Kaspersky Internet Security prices start at an introductory $39.99 to cover three devices for one year, $79.99 on renewal. Adding devices and extending the subscription gets you some savings, so for example protecting five devices for three years costs $100.98 for year one, $269.97 on renewal.

Kaspersky Total Security, the next step up, extends Kaspersky Internet Security with a local backup tool, a password manager, along with the definite highlight: the full-strength Kaspersky Safe Kids parental controls tool (there’s only a limited free version in this suite). If you can use any of these, it’s probably worth the upgrade, as the extra cost is minimal – you’ll typically pay around $10 more per year, however many devices you’re protecting.

These are reasonable prices, perhaps towards the high-end of the range you would expect for this level of suite. Bitdefender Internet Security 2020’s three device, 1-year license is a very similar $44.99 for year one, $79.99 on renewal, for instance. Three-year licenses can be cheaper – protecting five devices for three years costs just $169.99 – but as there’s no introductory discount for five or more devices, you’ll have to use the product for a couple of years or more to make real savings.

We began our setup from Kaspersky’s web console, entitled ‘My Kaspersky’, where we entered an activation key and selected an installation method. Options included downloading an installer directly, or from the app store, or sending an email to a friend or family member with a download link.

We took the download route, and waited as the installer set up Internet Security. This took a little while, but there were no hassles or complications.

Kaspersky’s main Windows console is a simple launcher which displays your device security status, and presents users with six tiles, each representing a module or function area (Scan, Safe Money banking protection, Privacy Protection, and so on). Tap a tile and you’re able to view and use its various features.

This doesn’t offer the control or feedback you’ll see with some competitors. Bitdefender 2020 enables running a Quick Scan direct from the launcher, for instance. Kaspersky requires you to open the Scan screen, then choose Quick Scan, for an extra click each time.

This more basic approach does bring some benefits, though. With no extra captions, buttons or lists, there’s no chance of any confusion; it’s all very user-friendly.

And don’t be fooled by Internet Security’s plain appearance: there’s some very solid engineering underneath. We simulated various ways in which malware might try to close key Kaspersky processes, stop services, play with Registry keys or delete files, but the app handled them all with ease, and our protection wasn’t compromised at any time.

A click on the main console takes you directly to Kaspersky’s Scan window. It has just about as plain and ordinary an interface as you’ll ever see, but you’ll know how to use it immediately: there’s a sidebar with a list of scan types (Full, Quick, Selective or External Device), there’s a Run Scan button, Schedule and Settings options are clearly visible, and that’s about it.

The simplicity doesn’t mean the Scan window is short on features, though. Click the Quick Scan option, say, and you don’t just get a Run Scan button; you’ll also see a summary of the last Quick Scan report you did. No need to hunt around for a separate Logs or History feature if you need to compare figures – the results you need are right there.

Kaspersky is great at handling simultaneous scans, too. If you need to scan a download while some lengthy system scan is running, for instance, most antivirus will open a second window or warn that you’ll have to wait until scan #1 has finished. Here, Kaspersky just displays new scanning tasks, reports on their progress and summarizes their results all in the same window. Much more convenient.

Scans were fast, at least initially, with Kaspersky taking 16 minutes to check our test 50GB of data (around 440,000 files). That’s around 30% faster than Avira and Bitdefender managed when we reviewed those products.

There’s not a lot of optimization with Kaspersky, though, and even if we turned on a ‘Scan new and changed files only’ setting, subsequent scans still took around 9 minutes. Bitdefender 2020 behaved more as we expected during its review, checking only new and modified files, cutting its scan times to as low as 80 seconds.

Kaspersky Internet Security scans don’t make a significant difference to system performance, though, so even if there’s more background scanning than usual, you might not care very much.

Scanning accuracy is more important, and we had no issues here, with the program immediately detecting even the least obvious of our test samples (a plain text file including a malicious JavaScript), and not raising a single false positive.

Installing Kaspersky Internet Security gets you an intelligent firewall which controls internet access and blocks network attacks, typically without ever hassling you with prompts or alerts. It worked without issue for us, but if you do have any problems, or you need a custom setup, you’re able to tweak or implement custom rules for applications or packets.

Kaspersky’s URL filtering is on hand to keep you away from dangerous links. This blocked all our test URLs, displaying instead a message explaining the problem, but, conveniently, also giving us an option to say ‘no, that’s wrong, I want to visit anyway.’ That certainly works for us.

Kaspersky Internet Security includes the basic free build of its Hotspot Shield-powered Secure Connection VPN. The underlying VPN isn’t bad, but this edition is very, very limited.

There’s no option to choose a location, for example – the client allocates one automatically.

This location may not be where you expect. When we tested in the UK, the VPN connected us to a server in the US, reducing performance and potentially preventing us accessing geoblocked UK sites we’d otherwise be able to visit.

Moreover, the service limits you to 200MB of daily traffic. You could use that in a single browsing session without much difficulty, so in this form, the VPN is of limited worth.

That said, Secure Connection still has some value for light use, maybe protecting mobile devices when you’re picking up email via public Wi-Fi (note that the data limit is per device, not per account, so at least every licensed device gets its own 200MB). And it’s not unusual for security vendors to limit VPN use in suites; Avira and Bitdefender do exactly the same. But there are exceptions, and for example Norton 360 Deluxe gives you a full VPN as well as its antivirus and other tools.

Internet Security includes a Spam Filter, but it’s disabled by default. Turning it on gave us a clue as to why, because it seems the filter works by passing information about each email back to Kaspersky’s servers to get a ‘junk’ or ‘legitimate’ verdict. This seemed to slow down the process of collecting new emails on our test PC, and the level of accuracy didn’t match Bitdefender’s spam filter, so you’ll probably be better off with a specialist antispam tool.

Safe Money is a secure and isolated browser which protects your financial details when you’re shopping online. Although you can launch it separately, we found that wasn’t necessary. Whenever we tried to pay for something at a popular site – eBay, Amazon, and so forth – Internet Security prompted us to open the link in Safe Money. We agreed, the payment page opened in a Safe Money window, and we handed over our cash in the usual way. (If you’re not interested, you can tell Kaspersky not to bother you with Safe Money alerts ever again.)

A Webcam Protection module alerts you when apps access your webcam, and enables blocking them in future.

In our tests, this worked, but only for future captures, and only if you’re paying attention. When our test app grabbed a webcam image, for example, Kaspersky didn’t attempt to stop it. We had a chance to stop future captures, but only if we noticed the tiny notification (which was visible for just five seconds), spotted the option list, tapped a button and chose the Block option.

A Private Browsing feature takes a more active role in protecting your privacy by blocking multiple types of web trackers (social networks, web analytics, ad agencies, web beacons).

A Software Updater module checks for missing patches, and correctly found and installed updates for Java and 7-Zip on our test PC. It’s not quite as capable as Avira’s updater, but it’s worth having.

Kaspersky Internet Security can download and install the free edition of Kaspersky’s Safe Kids, a parental controls module. This version only covers the most basic features, though, with options to limit access to websites and restrict device usage by time. Its more advanced features – checking your child’s location on a map, monitoring social media accounts, reporting on your child’s activities – are reserved for the Premium version.

Internet Security has various smaller tools tucked away, but most of these are underpowered, and they are more about making up the numbers than anything else. A Browser Configuration Wizard scans your browser settings to look for issues, for instance – but it only works with Internet Explorer.

Still, there’s a fair amount of protective power here, with multiple layers combining to reduce your exposure to attackers.

Kaspersky has always received above average results from the independent testing labs, and 2019 shows the company doing better than ever.

AV-Comparatives’ Real-World Protection Test assesses the performance of 16 top antivirus engines against common and brand new threats. It can be a tough benchmark, but Kaspersky made first place in the February – May 2019 summary report with a perfect 100% protection rate and zero false positives.

AV-Comparatives also has a small anti-phishing certification test covering six providers (Avast, Avira, Bitdefender, F-Secure, Kaspersky, Trend Micro). Bitdefender topped the list with 98% detection, Trend Micro followed with 97%, but Avast and Kaspersky made equal third, blocking a decent 94%.

AV-Test’s June 2019 Windows Home User test results were just as impressive, with Kaspersky Internet Security blocking 100% of results in all tests and rating maximum points for Protection, Performance and Usability.

To complete the review, we ran a custom-developed ransomware simulator on our test system. Kaspersky hadn’t seen our code before, effectively making it a brand new and undiscovered threat. Would its behavior monitoring be up to the task?

We ran our simulator, and nothing happened for a few seconds. But then an alert told us that Internet Security had detected and removed a threat. Our simulator managed to encrypt just six files, but Kaspersky handled that, too, rolling back our simulator’s actions and restoring the original files only a few seconds later.

Our simulator is extremely basic and there’s no guarantee Kaspersky Internet Security will block other ransomware in the same way, but this was still a great result, and puts Kaspersky up alongside Bitdefender for excellence in ransomware blocking and recovering lost data.

Kaspersky Internet Security has one of the best antivirus engines around. Its other features don’t have the same depth or power in most cases, but if you need to protect Macs, iOS or Android devices as well as PCs, the suite could still be a smart choice.

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