Kaspersky has recently launched the 2015 version of their security products across North America and they will soon follow in Europe and other regions. While this version doesn't promise any spectacular new features, it does promise to provide many improvements over the 2014 edition. If you would like to learn more about what this new generation of products has to offer, read this review for Kaspersky Internet Security 2015.
You will download the full setup file which has 161MB. On top of that, the first major update of the suite will have at least 99 MB of files and it will only grow as time goes by. In total, expect to download at least 260 MB of files.
Before the installation starts, the setup searches for incompatible software and informs users when conflicts are found. This is a sensible approach that helps eliminate frustration with using Kaspersky. During the installation process you have to make only two clicks and you can't configure where 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.
Once the installation is finished, the process for loading the security suite and enabling all its modules takes quite 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 this product's extra features. This window is shown each time you start the security suite unless you check the box that says "Do not show anymore".
No Windows restart is required and you can fully utilize Kaspersky Internet Security 2015 as soon as it is installed on your computer. However, its first automatic 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 2015 is a an easy process that requires you to provide only an email address. The installation experience is very similar to that of previous versions which isn't a bad thing.
Integration with Windows 8.1 & Modern Apps
Kaspersky Internet Security 2015 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 any possible conflicts and performance issues.
When it comes to integration with web-browsers, Kaspersky has a different approach from other vendors: it scans all your HTTP traffic so that you are protected in all browsers. They also offer a set of extensions that work only in Internet Explorer and Firefox: Content Blocker, Safe Money, URL Advisor and Virtual Keyboard. For Google Chrome they offer only the Virtual Keyboard and the URL Advisor while for Opera no extensions are offered.
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 small integration issue we discovered is that Kaspersky Internet Security 2015 doesn't use smooth scaling icons for all its shortcuts. For some of its shortcuts still uses the same small ugly looking icons from the Windows XP era. But that's not impacting the security it provides in any way.
Kaspersky also offers Kaspersky Now - an optional app for Windows 8.1 that you can install from the Windows Store. This app keeps you updated with security news and information about Kasperky's products.
In terms of memory usage, this suite requires 87 MB of RAM, in normal conditions. When performing scans or when dealing with 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 this suite.
Kaspersky Internet Security 2015 added only 1 second to our test system's boot time of 36 seconds. We also ran the PC Vantage and 3DMark Vantage benchmarks to see how much of an impact this suite has on performance. Both benchmarks did not reveal any meaningful performance difference after installing Kaspersky.
Kaspersky is well integrated with Windows 8.1 and its networking and security features. Also, it has a negligible impact on performance, which is great.
Ease of Use & Configuration
The user interface has been changed in the 2015 version. While we enjoyed the way things looked in the 2014 version, the new version has a rather weird looking interface. Yes, you can still find your way around this product and access everything you need, but our impression is that the new user interface takes a bit longer to get used to than that of the 2014 version.
As you can see, on the main screen you'll find a quick status update for this product and four big buttons that allow you to perform scans, make a product update, start Safe Money and Parental Controls.
If you press on "Show Additional Tools", you will have access to other tools that are included in this suite, as well as a few visual reports.
If you go to Settings you will first find a list with quick settings and switches for turning On and Off the different protection modules that are available. If you then select a protection module, you can change its more advanced settings. This is a good approach that works well for both novices and advanced users.
The only downside 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.
As always, Kaspersky offers lots of advanced configuration options. You can set complex rules for the firewall, choose the protection level you want for each module, add exclusions, configure the default scheduled scans or add your own custom scans. We very much enjoyed the fact that Kaspersky has scheduled scans for when your computer is sitting idle. Therefore, its regular quick scans and anti-rootkit scans won't bother users when they have work to do. We hope to see this approach emulated by other security vendors.
Help information is offered both in the form of local help files and online documentation. In terms of support, you can find all the available options directly in the suite. You can access online databases with tips and frequently asked questions, use the Kaspersky forums or use the built-in tools for gathering information about your device and reporting it to Kaspersky.
If you want access to more advanced support options, including support over the phone, you need to create a Kaspersky account and use it to report, track and solve your issues.
In terms of alerts, Kaspersky informs you when threats are detected and dealt with. You will see both anti-malware and firewall related prompts, only when appropriate.
When it comes to reports, Kaspersky offers both visual summaries on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, as well as detailed logs for all of its protection modules.
The user interface used by Kaspersky Internet Security 2015 is new but not necessarily better than that of the previous version. However, this product continues to work well and, after spending a bit of time learning where everything is placed, users should have no troubles in using this security product.
The firewall protection module offered by Kaspersky has received some minor improvements versus the 2014 version. First of all, it actively monitors the wireless networks you are connecting to. If you have set a WiFi network as Public in Windows, Kaspersky automatically adjusts its firewall settings to protect you more effectively and it also warns you about the dangers of using public networks. If you click on the warning, you are taken to an article on Kaspersky's website that explains the risks involved when using untrusted public networks.
While this does improve the user's awareness about their security on public WiFi, this warning gets annoying relatively fast and many users will choose to disable this type of notification.
What's cool though is that now Kaspersky can be set to block and warn about insecure transmission of passwords over the Internet. However, this feature is not enabled by default. You can learn how to enable this setting later in this review.
Another improvement in the firewall module is that it actively monitors the network profile you assign in Windows and adjusts its settings accordingly. In the past it only checked the network profile you set for a network the first time you used it and kept the same settings forever. Now, if you change the network profile assigned in Windows multiple times, Kaspersky automatically adjusts its own settings as well, which is great.
The Kaspersky firewall is as customizable as always and you can set rules both at an application level and at a packet level.
To evalue how well Kaspersky does when blocking network attacks, we have performed several scans with Nessus. When our test network was set as Trusted, Nessus detected 15 open ports with a negligible impact on security and it was able to identify the MAC address, which doesn't represent a security risk.
When the network was set as Public, Nessus detected 10 open ports with a negligible impact on security and it was able to identify the MAC address. These are average results when compared to the firewall protection provided by other security suites.
Another aspect that's different about the Kaspersky firewall is that it informs users when it detects and blocks network attacks. We consider this a good thing as this makes users aware that they are not connected to a secure network and that someone is trying to attack their computer.
Kaspersky's firewall module does a decent job at protecting your computer from network threats. However, its effectiveness is not as great as some of its competitors.
Antivirus and Antispyware
Anti-malware protection is the area where Kaspersky traditionally does best and we were expecting good results again.
We started by browsing several malicious websites in all the main browsers. Kaspersky Internet Security 2015 was able to block everything in all the browsers, including in Opera, even though this browser doesn't have any extensions from Kaspersky.
Then, we plugged in a USB memory stick filled with malware samples. Kaspersky asked whether we would like it to scan this drive or not. After the scan was performed, it was able to identify and remove all malware samples.
We also installed Kaspersky on a Windows 8.1 installation which was pre-infected with malware. After its installation, this suite was able to detect and remove the malware found on the test system.
When dealing with nasty malware infections Kaspersky has a very thorough approach. It recommended that we restart the system in order to clean it up. Then, it launched the Microsoft Windows Troubleshooting wizard which checks for system problems that may have been caused by malware activity or the disinfection process. And, lastly, it also starts a full-system scan that double checks that there are no malware samples left on your computer.
Yes, this whole process is slower than that used by other security products but it is also a lot more thorough. The chances that some isolated malware sample will go unnoticed are much smaller.
In our testing we also measure how fast the scanning speed is. We asked Kaspersky Internet Security 2015 to scan a 38 GB partition with 26.4 GB of files and it took a long 48 minutes to finish. This was the first time that this partition was scanned. Subsequent scans were finished much faster, in only 8 minutes, which is close to what other security products have to offer. This difference in timings happens because, the first time Kaspersky scans a file, it also gathers data about it so that in subsequent scans it gets scanned only if its properties have changed since the first scan.
Since the 2015 version was launched only recently, other security organizations did not yet test it. We only have their results for the 2014 version:
- AV-TEST awarded Kaspersky a score of 6 out of 6 for protection, 6 for performance and 6 for usability.
- 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.
In terms of antimalware protection Kaspersky Internet Security 2015 remains a very effective product.
Kaspersky Internet Security 2015 includes a large number of tools and additional features:
- Safe Money - when performing financial transactions online, Safe Money opens a protected browser window that continuously checks that your data is safe from prying eyes.
- 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. It offers browser extensions only for Internet Explorer and Firefox.
- 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 module 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.
- 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 2015 bundles several additional tools and features, some of which may prove useful to users.
Default Settings You Might Want to Improve
Kaspersky Internet Security 2015 is generally well configured but there are a few things that you might want to consider improving:
- Schedule a regular full system scan on a monthly basis. We like the fact that Kaspersky makes quick scans when your system is sitting idle, as well as regular rootkit scans. However, to be completely safe, it is best to run a full system scan once in a while.
- Go to "Settings -> Additional -> Threats and Exclusions" and you will find a setting named "Detect other software that can be used by criminals to damage your computer or personal data". Enabling this will make Kaspersky detect and report keyloggers and programs that are used for remote controlling your computer.
- Go to "Settings -> Protection Center -> Firewall" and you will find a setting that says "Block and warn about insecure transmission of passwords over the Internet". Enabling this setting is useful for laptop users who connect to lots of wireless networks. You never know when you don't pay enough attention and your passwords are sent over the Internet in an insecure manner.
- If you go to "Settings -> Additional -> Notifications" you may want to disable news notifications and unsubscribe yourself from receiving any marketing messages from Kaspersky.
Even though it's default configuration is good, there are a couple of minor settings that the user can improve about Kaspersky Internet Security 2015.
Kaspersky Internet Security 2015 is a strong security product that has a lot to offer to its users. It continues to deliver some the best anti-malware protection on the market and its performance impact is mostly negligible on modern computers and devices. Also, Kaspersky remains as customizable as ever. Novices will very much enjoy the good default configuration it has to offer while advanced users will appreciate the fact that they can configure its functioning in detail. We definitely recommend it to all our readers.
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