Security for Everyone - Reviewing Kaspersky Internet Security 2014

KasperskyKaspersky has always developed great security products and they have been in the list with the top 5 security products available on the market for many years now. In their 2014 version of products they have improved most of their protection modules and technologies as well as the user interface. Let's see what Kaspersky Internet Security 2014 has to offer to its users and whether it is a great security product or not.

First Impressions

In order to download the Kaspersky Internet Security 2014 trial, you need to provide your emaill address. You will receive a message with the download link and information about the product.

You will notice that you download the full security suite (221 MB in size) and not a special downloader. However, this is also a downside - you don't download the latest version of the suite and the first update will be a big one, with more than 120 MB of files being downloaded. In total you will download about 350 MB of files or more so that you get the latest version of Kaspersky Internet Security 2014.

Before the installation starts, the setup file searches for incompatible software and informs users when conflicts are found. This is a sensible approach that helps eliminate frustration with using this security suite. During the installation process you have to make only two clicks and you can't configure were the suite is installed or which modules are installed. However, any module can be easily disabled after the installation, if you don't plan to use it.

Kaspersky Internet Security 2014, firewall, antivirus, review

Once the installation is finished, the process for loading the security suite and enabling all its modules takes a bit of time. When done, its main user interface is shown, together with a message window that welcomes you to Kaspersky and informs you about the benefits of registering the product. This window is shown each time you start the security suite and you will quickly get annoyed by it. Even though you check the box that says "Don't show this again", it keeps coming back. I did not appreciate this bug.

Kaspersky Internet Security 2014, firewall, antivirus, review

No system restart is required and you can fully utilize the suite as soon as it is installed on your computer. However, its first update starts after quite a bit of time and you might want to force a manual update as soon as the installation is finished.

Download and installing Kaspersky Internet Security 2014 is a an easy process that requires you to provide only an email address. The only downside I have found is a small bug that displays the Welcome window each time the suite starts, even though you specify otherwise. This bug impacts only the trial version of the suite.

Integration with Windows 8.1 & Modern Apps

Just like its predecessors, Kaspersky Internet Security 2014 is well integrated with Windows and all its security and networking features. When the suite is installed, it automatically disables the Windows Firewall and Windows Defender, so that it eliminates possible conflicts and performance issues.

When it comes to integration with web-browsers, Kaspersky has a different approach than other vendors: it scans all your HTTP traffic so that you are protected in all web-browsers. They also offer a set of extensions that work only in Internet Explorer, Firefox and Google Chrome: Content Blocker, Safe Money, URL Advisor and Virtual Keyboard.

Kaspersky Internet Security 2014, firewall, antivirus, review

If you are an Opera user, you will be protected from threats but you won't be able to use the additional features that are bundled through the use of extensions.

When using this suite, I was able to access the network, share files and folders, stream media, play online games, etc. Updating modern Windows 8.1 apps also worked fine, without any manual configuration being performed. The only integration issue I discovered is that Kaspersky Internet Security 2014 doesn't use smooth scaling icons that are specific to Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8. Kaspersky still uses the same small ugly looking icons from the Windows XP era. That's rather unfortunate, since changing the icons used for a product is a trivial thing to do.

In terms of memory usage, this suite requires 63 MB of RAM, in normal conditions. When performing scans or when dealing to all kinds of attacks or malware infections, the memory usage goes up. Kaspersky does a good job at protecting its services and they cannot be terminated by users or malware. This suite is so well protected that, when using some of its features, you will have a hard time making screenshots. Screenshot taking tools like SnagIt will have a hard time taking screenshots of everything.

Kaspersky have improved the impact of their products on boot timings. In my measurements, their security suite had no impact on the time it took for my test system to start up. I also measured its performance impact by running the PC Vantage and 3DMark Vantage benchmarks. In the gaming benchmark (3DMark Vantage) there was no meaningful performance difference. In the productivity benchmark (PC Vantage) there was a 4% impact being measured. I was very satisfied with these results.

Kaspersky has made several performance improvements to their security suite. As a result, Kaspersky Internet Security 2014 has no impact on boot timings and has reduced the system's general performance by a maximum of 4%, which is in line with other good security products. In terms of integration with Windows 8.1 - everything works well - without any manual configuration from the user's part.

Ease of Use & Configuration

If you have used previous versions of Kaspersky Internet Security, you will notice that the 2014 version has a different interface. Kaspersky has decided to remove their touch app for Windows 8, which wasn't very useful, and improve their suite's interface so that it is also easy to use on devices with touch.

Kaspersky Internet Security 2014, firewall, antivirus, review

Changing the settings of this suite is very easy for both touch users and PC users with a mouse and keyboard. The reports, prompts and alerts shown by the suite are also easy to use on a screen with touch.

Kaspersky Internet Security 2014, firewall, antivirus, review

I think this is a great idea from Kaspersky's part. With Windows 8 and 8.1, a growing number of devices with touchscreens is available on the market. Being able to use your security suite on them is a great plus for Kaspersky and other vendors should follow their example.

The only downside I have found for this new interface is that there is no Home button. As a result, you will end up pressing the Back button quite a lot and this might frustrate users when they go too deep in Kaspersky's configuration menus.

One thing remains unchanged in this new version: the wealth of advanced configuration options. Geeks and IT professionals will be able to configure in detail all aspects of this suite's functioning.

Just like in previous versions, help is easily available when needed. Kaspersky Internet Security 2014 offers both local help files as well as access to its online database with frequently asked questions, configuration tips and user forums. If you go to their support website, you can also learn the available phone numbers for their support service.

Reporting has also been improved in this new version. Kaspersky offers detailed logs about everything it does as well as visual summaries for the day or the month that's in progress.

Kaspersky Internet Security 2014, firewall, antivirus, review

All reports are easily accessible also when using touch, which is great.

Kaspersky Internet Security 2014 also shines when it comes to its default scheduled scans: it has enabled idle-state scanning (it scans your PC or device when you don't use it) and rootkit scanning. You don't have to create your own scheduled scans in order to be protected. Obviously, if you do want to create your own scheduled scans, Kaspersky offers you the tools to create them.

Kaspersky Internet Security 2014 offers an improved interface when compared to previous versions, which works well also on devices with touchscreens. This is something new in the world of security products and a good step forward.

Firewall

Kaspersky have also improved the way you work with the firewall module. One notable change is that, when it detects a new network connection, the suite monitors the network profile you assign in Windows and adjusts its settings accordingly. This is great because you no longer need to manually configure the firewall module so that it applies the appropriate filtering rules.

However, this monitoring is not performed ongoing. If you change the network profile of the same network later on, the initial firewall settings remain enabled and you have to manually change the profile for that network in the firewall module.

Kaspersky Internet Security 2014, firewall, antivirus, review

In terms of effectiveness, it seems that the firewall module has remained unchanged when compared to the previous versions. In my testing with Nessus, it delivered rather average results: when the network was set as trusted, Nessus found 14 open ports with a low impact on security and it was able to identify the MAC address of the network card. When the network was set as public, Nessus found 10 open ports with a low impact on security and it was able to identify the MAC address of the network card.

The firewall module has received several usability improvements and it is easy to use on both PCs and touch devices. However, its effectiveness has not been improved and its protection level is average when compared to other top-notch security products.

Antivirus and Antispyware

When I test the effectiveness of the antimalware protection provided by a security suite, I generally start by browsing several malicious websites in all the main browsers. Kaspersky Internet Security 2014 was able to block everything in all the browsers, including in Opera.

Then, I plugged in a USB memory stick filled with malware samples. Kaspersky asked whether I would like it to scan this drive or not. After the scan was performed, it was able to identify and remove all malware samples.

I also installed the suite on a Windows 8.1 installation which was pre-infected with malware. After its installation, Kaspersky was able to detect the malware found on the test system.

Kaspersky Internet Security 2014, firewall, antivirus, review

It recommended a system restart and, after the disinfection was performed, it started an automated full-system scan, to confirm that all the malware was found and removed. It also launched the Microsoft Windows Troubleshooting wizard which checks for system problems that may have been caused by malware activity or the disinfection process.

In terms of scanning speed - when performing a system scan for the first time, Kaspersky takes a lot of time because it gathers data about every file on your system. This data is then used to quickly identify files that may have been modified by malware and to perform faster scans. For example, on my test system, the system drive has 38GB and 26.5 GB are filled with files. When scanning it for the first time, Kaspersky Internet Security 2014 spent 30 minutes. That's a lot!

However, subsequent scans on the same partition took about 8 minutes - a much better result and one that is similar to other good security products.

Before finishing my tests, I have also looked at what other security organizations had to say about Kaspersky:

  • AV-TEST awarded Kaspersky a score of 6 out of 6 for protection, 6 for performance and 6 for usability. Great rating!
  • AV-Comparatives awarded Kaspersky their top Advanced+ rating in their latest round of testing.
  • Virus Bulletin awarded Kaspersky their ultimate VB100 badge and measured a 90%+ reactive detection rate and an 70%+ proactive detection rate, which is the standard for good security products.

When it comes to antimalware protection Kaspersky Internet Security 2014 is a very effective product.

Other Features

Kaspersky Internet Security 2014 includes a reasonably large number of tools and additional features, alongside the modules you would expect in a security suite:

  • Safe Money - this a good feature to use when you want to perform financial transactions online and you are connected to a public wireless network.
  • Virtual Keyboard - an on-screen keyboard that should be used when you want to make sure that the data you enter is not logged by third-party apps or by malware.
  • Anti-Banner - a module that removes ads when browsing the web.
  • Kaspersky Rescue Disk - this wizard is very easy to use and allows you to create a rescue disk with the latest version of Kaspersky, so that you can disinfect other computers that no longer work well.
  • Parental Controls - this is a very complex module that allows you to set how much time your child uses the computer and when, specify the apps and games he is allowed to run, restrict internet access according to your rules, block or allow communication through instant messengers and block the transfer of private data (e.g. home address, credit card numbers) from your child to third parties. The only downside of using this tool is the fact that it is very annoying to use with the Opera browser. It has no integration with this browser and your child will receive many confusing prompts and alerts when using this browser.
  • Privacy Cleaner - it clears your computer history of recent commands, accessed files, cookies, caches, logs, etc.
  • Vulnerability Scan - this wizard scans Windows and third-party applications (like Flash or Java) for known vulnerabilities and it warns you when appropriate.
  • Microsoft Windows Troubleshooting - this wizard checks for system problems that may have been caused by malware activity or the disinfection performed by the suite and tries to help you out when problems are found.
  • Browser Configuration - this tool analyzes the configuration of Internet Explorer and it recommends improvements to its security settings.

Kaspersky Internet Security 2014, firewall, antivirus, review

Kaspersky Internet Security 2014 bundles many additional tools and features, some of which may prove useful to users.

Default Settings You Might Want to Improve

When it comes to default settings, Kaspersky Internet Security 2014 is generally well configured. I have found only a few areas where some improvement is needed:

  • If you go to Settings and then to Notifications, you can disable news notifications and unsubscribe yourself from receiving any marketing emails from Kaspersky.
  • If you go to Settings and then to Threats and Exclusions, you can enable the detection of legitimate software that can be used by unauthorized parties to gain access to personal data (e.g. keyloggers or remote control software).

As you can see from this section, there's very little that can be improved about the default settings of Kaspersky Internet Security 2014, which is great.

Verdict

BUY for Everyone!Kaspersky Internet Security 2014 is a strong security product that delivers many improvements in terms of usability. It is one of the first security suites that was updated so that it can be used just as easily on Windows 8.1 tablets and desktop PCs.
In terms of antimalware protection, Kaspersky remain as strong as ever. Kaspersky Internet Security 2014 managed to deal with all the malware I have thrown at it and it had stellar performance in the tests performed by other independent organizations. We recommend it to all our readers.

Purchasing options

Kaspersky Internet Security 2014 can be purchased from Amazon US (for North American readers) or Amazon UK (for European readers). Thanks a lot to those who purchase the product using these links. This will help us receive a small commission from your purchase.