Reviews

Kaspersky Internet Security 2019 review: Unbeatable value

Old reliable does it again, with supreme effectiveness, extensive features and minimal performance impact

Price
£17
  • Great protection; Almost zero false positives; User-friendly menu design
  • Free VPN element is still somewhat limited

We've been reviewing security software for more than a decade, and in all that time Kaspersky has never been far from the winners' podium. There are four reasons for that.

The first is that it's a supremely effective antivirus tool. The latest figures from both AV-Comparatives and AV-Test saw Kaspersky achieve a flawless clean sheet against all types of malware. What's more, it did so with a phenomenal false positive rate of just 0.01%; some rivals did very slightly better, but really this is as near to perfection as makes no odds.

Second, despite its strikingly thorough malware-detection technologies, Kaspersky is surprisingly light on resources: AV-Comparatives rated it as "very fast" in every test except archiving and unarchiving files, which isn't something you're likely to spend a lot of time doing. Indeed, with an average overall system performance score of 93% it's one of the fastest security suites on the market, drawing with Bitdefender and losing out to ESET Internet Security. Remember, that percentage is compared to using no protection at all; if you're currently using Windows Defender with its lowly 78% performance score, installing Kaspersky will actually give you a significant speed boost.

The third thing Kaspersky has going for it is one of the most extensive feature sets in the business. Indeed, we reached the point where there were no major functions left to add several years ago, and compared to last year's release, the 2019 version is more of a tinkering-with than an upgrade.

The one thing that's really new is the front-end: it exposes all the same functions, but has a cleaner, cooler look, with the medical green highlights of the 2018 edition replaced with a much more sombre shade. There's been a bit of a reorganisation too, although Kaspersky has gone in the opposite direction to Bitdefender; where the interface was previously characterised by dense lists of links and toggles, it's now more structured, with more subdivisions, more white space and jaunty illustrations to add visual interest to the various panes. The detailed stats and grungy technical settings are still there, but you now have to dig a little more deeply to find them.

Another change is that Kaspersky now blocks adware, web trackers and "potentially unwanted applications" by default, where previously you had to opt into those behaviours. We think this is the right call, although all it means in practice is that some of the boxes that come up at installation are now pre-ticked. Along with the revamped interface, it makes the package feel a little more consumer-friendly, and less of a techie product; whether that's a good or bad thing, we'll let you decide.

So, let's talk about the functions themselves. One of our favourite features remains Kaspersky's Trusted Applications mode, which automatically blocks all software that isn't on the company's own whitelist. This makes Kaspersky ideal as a fuss-free security suite for less technical businesses; indeed, it's a good starting point for most users, as if a program you trust is blocked, you can always individually approve it.

We also like the way that Kaspersky smoothly transfers you into the suite's hardened Safe Money browser when you visit a banking site, or any other site on your own customised list. It takes a lot of the friction out of the process -- although for obvious reasons it won't store your passwords.

Other welcome abilities include a software cleaner, for apps that you can't get shot of via the normal avenues; a webcam protection module that warns you if anyone's trying to snoop through your camera; an automatic software updater and vulnerability scanner, and a parental control module that lets you restrict not only internet and application usage but social media access as well.

The one feature we've never been quite so sold on is the VPN component, because -- like Bitdefender's -- it's a limited trial that allows you only 200MB of traffic a day. Still, Kaspersky hardly shoves it in your face; we're pleased to see that it's now discreetly tucked away in the Tools menu. And if you do want to upgrade to the unlimited service it costs a very reasonable 20 a year for up to five PCs.

That brings us to the fourth and final reason we keep coming back to Kaspersky: sure, you can pay 45 for the software on Kaspersky's own website, but hop over to Amazon and you can get a three-device licence for just 20, making this not only one of the best, but also one of the cheapest internet security suites out there. Considering that the subscription includes Android support as well, it adds up -- not for the first time -- to a package that simply can't be beaten.

Verdict

Still the best in the biz, Kaspersky’s basic security package offers outstanding protection and smart features for a very affordable price.

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