Here at 7 Tutorials, we have reviewed the last two versions of Kaspersky’s Internet Security suite. The 2011 version found enough interface improvements to award the suite a solid “Buy for Grandma!". Kaspersky has released their 2012 offerings and introduced even more interface changes that should appeal to the novice user. In this review we will take a look at these changes and the quality of security provided by Kaspersky Internet Security 2012. Welcome to the latest installment of the Security for Everyone series.
Kaspersky keeps the download and install process simple. There are no customization options to speak of and the install is complete in a few clicks. Kaspersky takes care of the proper house cleaning during setup by identifying and uninstalling any existing security suite and disabling the Windows Firewall. Windows Defender continues to be enabled which I do not consider to be much of an issue. However, for the remainder of this review Windows Defender will be disabled, to make sure the performance levels of the system are not negatively impacted by running two security products at once.
Once installed you are presented with the new Kaspersky Internet Security 2012 interface.
If you have been a Kaspersky user in the past, you will undoubtedly note the change in the interface. Kaspersky has succeeded in creating an interface that is neither intimidating nor difficult to follow. You can access the various modules of the suite by using the ribbon like interface on the bottom of the screen. Clicking the arrows on the right or left of the ribbon will show additional options. If this were the only way to navigate to the various modules I would likely not be too impressed. Thankfully, Kaspersky thought to include the arrow on the top of the ribbon which will cause it to expand so you can see all module links at one time.
I really like where Kaspersky has taken Internet Security 2012 and look forward to digging into the product usability. Shall we?
Ease of Use and Configuration
Kaspersky did not just update the main interface and leave the individual modules untouched, rather they applied the same clean update to each area.
When it comes time to work with scanning you will find you have a few scan related items to work with. You can perform a full scan, a scan of critical areas and a vulnerability scan. You can also perform a custom scan by browsing for, or dragging, an item or folder in the custom scan area.
When considering changes to firewall related application and network settings the modules you will need to work with are Application Activity and Network Monitor. Within the Application Activity module you define which applications are allowed network access and the type of access. There are a few specific things I like about this interface. One is the addition of the popularity column. I am not sure why but it’s comforting to have an idea how popular an application is. If nothing else, the more popular an application, the better chance those suites like Kaspersky Internet Security 2012 will be aware of any vulnerabilities. I also like the display of process memory and CPU utilization. Lastly, the ability to switch between list and tree view is a nice touch that gives you just enough of a different view to be able to make an intelligent decision.
The Network Monitor is where you can get a detailed view of the activity occurring among your system, its applications and the network you are connected to. Application and packet rules are easily created and modified providing the granular control you’ve come to expect from Kaspersky.
Besides scanning and firewall related functions, Kaspersky Internet Security 2012 continues to provide Safe Run for Applications and Safe Run for Websites. Each of these are fine options when transferring, or working with, sensitive information you would prefer be isolated from the operating system.
As much as I like and appreciate the changes Kaspersky made to the user interface, I was a little concerned they would lose some geek cred if the advanced settings had been watered down at all. There was no reason for concern. Kaspersky has kept the granular control they have become associated with and have done a nice job of tucking it cleanly away. Along with the new interface design you will find improvements to the following areas of Internet Security 2012: URL Advisor, Application Control, Anti-Phishing and Anti-spam, Parental Control.
Kaspersky continues to make real progress in making their security solution more user friendly. With this latest release it seems like Kaspersky has made a solid decision to create and maintain a security solution for everyone.
As mentioned previously, if the firewall is an area you need to maintain you will be focusing on the Application Activity and Network Monitor. In these areas you can define the necessary rules to allow or block connections and applications. The reporting in each of these areas provide a detailed view into your system activity.
You will also find reporting specific to network based or firewall born threats. A basic report listing the number and type of threats is available from the Reports icon on the main interface. From this summary level report you can select a link to get detailed information.
When testing a firewalls effectiveness I like to run an intrusive scan or two to see just what information is leaked or which vulnerabilities might be exposed. To get this done I use the Nmap scanner.
The Kaspersky firewall fared well in this testing. Each network attack was identified which prompted the first notifications from the security suite. Nmap identified eight open ports and found the remainder of the scanned ports either filtered or closed.
Kaspersky does a good job with its firewall and the default settings appear to provide sufficient protection. The only thing I would like to see a bit more accessible for editing is the type of network you are connected to (trusted, public). Many suites make this an option in the main firewall interface. Getting this done in Kaspersky Internet Security 2012 requires reaching the more advanced settings. Of course, this could be found to be a trivial request. All things considered, Kaspersky’s firewall provides adequate default protection via an interface that is not difficult to follow.
Antivirus and Antispyware Features
Kaspersky has really simplified the main scanning functions in Internet Security 2012. You are able to run a full scan, critical area scan or custom scan. In addition to virus and malware scanning you can run a vulnerability scan to check installed applications for any known issues. You can also run multiple scans at one time with less impact on system resources than you might think. Management of active scans are done via the Task Manager interface.
Before installing Kaspersky Internet Security 2012 I planted several malicious files. I also tried introducing more files post install. Kaspersky did a fine job of identifying each threat. Those I introduced from external sources via a zip file were handled more efficiently than many suites. Kaspersky scans inside zip (and other archive types) automatically and handily quarantines the entire zip on identifying any threat rather than pulling the identified threat and continuing with the scan of the archive. It could be argued if this approach is the most effective, I happen to prefer it.
Browser based threats are something I spend a fair amount of time testing. In my experience, more threats are introduced by happening on a malicious site or clicking a suspect link in an email or Facebook post. While browsers are getting better at detecting and blocking these threats it’s still wise to use a security solution that is an authority on these kinds of attacks. Kaspersky doesn’t disappoint in this regard.
My testing took me to several malicious sites and when the browser did not make the detection first, Kaspersky did. The improved URL Advisor also does a good job of flagging search results as potentially dangerous.
Kaspersky has not lost track of the importance of solid antivirus and antispyware detection. The improved interface and ease of management takes interacting with scanning options and tasks to a good place, one the novice user will be comfortable with. The formal testing organizations like av-test.org and AV-Comparatives have yet to test this version but I am hopeful the next wave of testing will include Kaspersky Internet Security 2012.
Kaspersky got a lot right in this latest version. They could have easily sat back and made minimal improvements to the previous version and still have a trusted easy to use product. Instead, it appears they have made a real commitment to meeting the needs of the novice user. The successful redesign of the interface speaks to this, as does the difficulty in creating a product that can appeal to casual users and geeks alike. Nice job Kaspersky!