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Kaspersky Internet Security Review (2023): 7 Pros & 3 Cons
By Tibor Moes / Updated: April 2023 / Rating: 5 of 5
Kaspersky Internet Security Review: Summary
Kaspersky is ranked #4 out of 20 antivirus software.
Kaspersky Internet Security, now called Kaspersky Plus, is one of the very best antivirus of 2023. Its design is intuitive, the protection extensive, and the engineering quality excellent. At Kaspersky, everything simply works.
The only downside is the VPN. It’s not very advanced, and it collects too much user data. As it’s an optional extra, we don’t recommend buying it.
However, when it comes to Kaspersky’s protection features, it is about as good as it gets: Top-level anti-malware, excellent web protection, a solid (optional) password manager, and industry-leading parental controls.
Tip: The upgrade to Kaspersky Total Security is worth it to access the outstanding password manager.
- Excellent Anti-Malware: Together with Norton and Bitdefender, Kaspersky scores the best anti-malware results in the protection trials by AV-Test.
- Outstanding Password Manager: Kaspersky makes creating, storing, and auto-filling secure passwords look easy. It supports biometrics login too.
- Great Parental Controls: Get insights into your kids’ digital lives, block inappropriate content, and set limits on screen time.
- Complete Protection on Windows: Anti-malware, password manager, private browsing, firewall, parental controls, VPN, and more.
- Complete Protection on Android: Anti-malware, password manager, VPN, internet protection, data leak checker, anti-theft, app lock, and more.
- Highly Customizable: Security experts will love the depth of Kaspersky’s customization options. But it works fine on the default settings too.
- Excellent Web Protection: Kaspersky’s browser extensions combine anti-phishing, anti-tracking, and payment protection into one.
- Intuitive Design: All of Kaspersky’s app, whether on Windows, macOS, Android, or iOS, are intuitive and easy to use.
- Free VPN Limited to 300 MB / day: If you want to access the unlimited VPN, you’ll have to pay extra, even if you bought Kaspersky’s Total Security.
- Limited Features on macOS: Kaspersky doesn’t offer a firewall or password manager on Mac. We recommend Norton 360 Deluxe for Mac.
Kaspersky’s price varies by region. Click the link below to see it in yours.
|Ranking||#4 of 20|
|Operating systems||Windows, macOS, iOS, Android|
|Discount||Save 60% on Kaspersky|
Kaspersky Internet Security 2023 Full Review
Kaspersky is one of the best antivirus suites of 2023. But is it better than its archrivals Norton, McAfee, Bitdefender, and Avast? To find out, we ran a set of trials. Click the links below to be taken to the test of your choice, or simply scroll down.
- Kaspersky for Windows Review
- Kaspersky for Mac Review
- Kaspersky for Android Review
- Kaspersky for iOS Review
- Anti-Malware Test
- Password Manager Test
- Parental Controls Test
- VPN Test
- Company Profile
- Product Line-Up
Alternatively, you can compare Kaspersky Antivirus to the best antivirus for macOS, Windows, Android, and iOS. Or, if a VPN is essential to you, have a look at the best antivirus with a VPN or the best standalone VPN.
Image 1: Kaspersky’s dashboard on Android and Windows 10.
Kaspersky Internet Security for Windows Review
Key takeaway: Kaspersky lives up to its outstanding reputation. The layout is intuitive, the protection features are excellent and plentiful, and the customization options are advanced. It’s an exceptional product. To get access to the password manager and full parental controls, we consider the step up to Kaspersky’s Total Security worth the money.
Kaspersky Internet Security for Windows 10 review:
Kaspersky’s design is clean and intuitive. A recommendation banner at the top informs you of security features you could use. Below it, eight buttons take you to the main features, with several more hidden behind the green “more tools” button at the bottom. We’ll take you through them:
All the usual suspects are present:
- Quick scan: Scan all locations where malware usually hides.
- Complete scan: Scan the entire PC or laptop.
- Selective scan: Select the parts you wish to scan.
- Scan external disks: Scan external hard drives or USB sticks.
- Vulnerability scan: Scan legitimate software for security risks.
What’s excellent about Kaspersky’s scans is the customization options:
- Protection level: Prioritize your PC’s performance or its protection.
- Scannable area: Select which parts of the PC you want to scan.
- Scan optimization: Scan only new and updated files.
- Heuristic analysis: Select the detail left of the heuristic scan.
- Scan technology: Use iSwift, iChecker, or both.
Manually run a database and software update. Kaspersky does this at regular intervals as well. So there isn’t a need unless you want to run a complete scan with the latest malware samples in the database.
An extra secure browser that you can choose to use for online banking. It also has an onscreen keyboard that prevents keyloggers from tracking the strokes on your keyboard to uncover your login details.
The password manager helps you create, store, and auto-fill highly unique and secure passwords. It is a free feature in Kaspersky Total Security but a paid extra in its Internet Security software. If you have access to the feature, it will open in a separate app.
We have reviewed Kaspersky’s password manager in detail in this review. Spoiler alert: It’s excellent.
Privacy protection comes in two parts on Kaspersky:
- Webcam protection: Kaspersky will notify you when a program attempts to start your webcam so that you can allow or block it. If you like, you can also block access to your webcam entirely.
- Private browsing: This anti-tracking browser extension can prevent websites from tracking your online behavior via tracking cookies. By default, the extension only collects statistics. You’ll have to activate the blocking feature if you would like to use it.
Backup and Restore:
Kaspersky helps you select and backup critical files onto a local, external, or cloud backup. But Kaspersky does not provide you with the actual cloud backup space, as Norton does. Instead, you can use a third-party provider like Dropbox.
Protection for Kids:
Parental controls help you analyze what your kids see and do online. It also allows you to set protective boundaries on their digital world.
Kaspersky’s parental controls feature is, like the password manager, a separate app. A basic version is included for free in Kaspersky Internet Security, but it lacks the GPS tracker. You’ll need to buy the standalone parental controls feature, called Safe Kids, to access the GPS tracker. Or you can buy Kaspersky Total Security instead, which includes it for free.
We analyze Kaspersky’s parental controls in more detail in a dedicated section of this review. Spoiler alert: It’s one of the best.
My Kaspersky is the web app that allows you to store activation codes, get an overview of your protected devices, and sign up for additional features.
There are a wide range of additional security tools hidden here. We’ll briefly highlight each:
- Cloud protection: Informs you of your connection to the Kaspersky Security Network (KSN), and gives you a statistical overview of the scanned objects.
- Quarantine: See all the files that have been placed in quarantine because they were flagged as potential malware. From here, you can choose to delete or restore them.
- Onscreen keyboard: Start the digital keyboard to make sure keyloggers can’t track the physical strokes you make on your regular keyboard.
- Rescue disk: Disinfect a heavily compromised computer upon starting the operating system.
- VPN: A separate app that encrypts your internet connection and hides your IP address, making you anonymous online. The free VPN included with Kaspersky Internet Security is limited to 300 MB / day. For unlimited data, you will need to upgrade.
- Network activity: Show all the network activities of the programs on your PC, including port, protocol, local IP, external IP, incoming or outgoing data stream, and more.
- File encryption: Create a vault, protected by an AES-256 encryption key, to store important files.
- File shredder: Delete files permanently according to one of several methods, including GOST R, the Bruce Schneier algorithm, VSITR, NAVSO, or DoD.
- Clean and optimize: Clean unnecessary programs, temporary files, activity traces, browser configurations, and more.
Those are a lot of security features. And yet, there is more. Under the settings menu, accessible in the bottom left corner of the app, you can find other features like the firewall, advanced threat protection, anti-banner, and anti-spam.
As you would expect, the customization options for the firewall are plentiful. You can set rules for specific programs, data streams, and networks.
Kaspersky Internet Security for Windows is a truly excellent product. Not only does it offer many security features, but the quality of each is also stellar. We see only two important considerations before you take the plunge and buy Kaspersky’s Internet Security:
- If you don’t already have a password manager, we advise you to upgrade to Kaspersky Total Security, which includes it for free.
- If you want a VPN, you can buy it separately at Kaspersky, but it makes the total bill rather expensive. Instead, you could opt for Norton 360 Deluxe, which includes one for free.
Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac Review
Key takeaway: Kaspersky’s Internet Security for Mac is one of our favorite security solutions for macOS. It’s advanced yet affordable. And the browser extension has more features than a swiss army knife. The only downsides are its lack of a password manager and unlimited VPN. You can buy these separately at Kaspersky, or opt for Norton 360 Deluxe, which includes them both for free.
Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac review:
macOS is a safer operating software than Windows. Because of this, most antivirus software have fewer features for Mac than for Windows. Kaspersky is no exception. But Kaspersky Internet Security certainly packs a punch.
Kaspersky’s dashboard on macOS looks excellent. By adjusting to our Mac’s Dark Mode settings, the software gets a cool and techy feel. From the app, you can access five categories which each house several features:
The protection center gives you insight into:
- Your license duration
- Active threats on your Mac
- Real-time protection
- Database status
It also helps you install the excellent Kaspersky Security browser extension, which packs many features into a single extension:
- Web anti-virus: This feature scans incoming data and notifies you of any threats.
- Website tracking: An anti-tracking feature stops websites from installing cookies into your browser to track your online activities. By default, this one is off. We recommend that you turn it on.
- Safe money: Safe money protects your online financial transactions by checking the authenticity of banking and shopping websites, and the certificates used to establish a secure connection
- URL advisor: Kaspersky will tell you whether a link is safe before you click on it.
- Onscreen keyboard: The digital keyboard lets you type in passwords without using the physical keyboard, eliminating the threat of keystroke-tracking keyloggers.
What’s really cool is that each of the elements above can be turned on and off individually. By combining all these features into a single extension, Kaspersky has made one of the best web protection browser extensions that we have encountered so far.
Here, you can start quick scans, full scans, or schedule a scan in the future. You can also select a file or folder to scan, or drag and drop a file into the window in typical Apple fashion. Pretty cool.
Check whether your database and software are up to date. Kaspersky updates them automatically in regular intervals. But if you like, you can update them manually too.
This section includes the same two features as available on Windows:
- Block webcam: You have the option to block all applications from accessing your webcam. There is no option to block only some apps or to get a notification when an app attempts to access it. There is only the entire block, which is a bit of a blunt weapon. But we still appreciate it, especially because other antivirus software don’t offer it on Mac.
- Block website tracking: When you activate this feature, the anti-tracking capabilities in your browser extension become active. You can also turn these on and off from the browser extension itself, which updates the antivirus settings in real-time.
There is also a link to Kaspersky’s VPN, called Secure Connection. However, it will be limited to 300 MB / day unless you have bought the premium VPN.
And should you have bought the separate password manager, then a link to it will appear here as well.
Here you can find a link to the separate parental controls app, called Safe Kids. With your Internet Security subscription, you get the basic version of Safe Kids. This means that you can block access to websites and website categories that you consider inappropriate.
If you want the full feature set, you will have to buy the premium version of Kaspersky Safe Kids. This one includes a GPS tracker to see the live location of your child, a social media activity monitor, and a low-battery notifier.
Under preferences, you’ll be able to tweak some of the features above. For instance, you can select the types of tracking cookies that will be blocked: Web analytics, ad agencies, web behavior trackers, and social networks.
Also hidden there is the Network Attack Blocker. It is not a full-scale firewall, like found on Norton and Intego, but it comes close. It scans inbound traffic for attacks. And when it discovers any, it blocks network traffic from the attacking device for an hour.
Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac is excellent. We prefer it to Bitdefender, but believe Norton is your best bet on macOS. Mainly because Norton includes a full firewall, password manager, and unlimited VPN.
But all these features make Norton more expensive. So have a look at both and find out which suits your needs best.
Kaspersky Internet Security for Android Review
Key takeaway: Kaspersky Internet Security for Android is excellent. It includes real-time antivirus protection, anti-theft features, a vulnerability scan, internet protection, and much more. It’s one of the very best.
Kaspersky Internet Security for Android is considered one of the best antivirus for Google’s operating system. And for good reasons: It’s beautifully designed and includes everything you need from a mobile security app.
- Scan: Run a quick scan of the installed apps, a full scan of the entire device, or a folder scan of specific folders.
- Update: Manually update the malware database and run a quick scan directly after.
- Real-time protection: Here, the app tells you that new apps and files are scanned automatically, and you can turn adware detection on and off.
- Call filter: Add contacts and numbers to a list that will automatically be blocked.
- Anti-theft: Control your lost or stolen device remotely from My Kaspersky, allowing you to lock and locate your device, take a photo with the front camera, wipe the hard drive, and trigger an alarm.
- App lock: Set a four-digit code on specific apps so that no one can access them but you.
- Safe messaging: Let Kaspersky check your text messages for phishing links that attempt to steal your data.
- Internet protection: A browser feature that checks websites for malware and phishing, and blocks dangerous ones.
- Data leak checker: Kaspersky will check the dark web to see if your data is for sale (e.g., email addresses, credit cards, and social security numbers).
- Weak settings scan: Check your device for vulnerable settings that can cause security risks.
- My apps: Check what apps can access your calendar, camera, contacts, location, microphone, and more.
And if that wasn’t enough, you can install Kaspersky’s other security apps as well:
- VPN: With your Internet Security subscription, you get a free VPN limited to 300 MB / day. If you want the unlimited version, you’ll need to buy it separately.
- Safe kids: With your Internet Security subscription, you also get a basic version of the parental controls for free. With it, you can analyze what your kids do online and protect them from inappropriate content. The unlimited version will cost extra.
- Password manager: Available as a paid extra or as part of the premium Total Security product.
Kaspersky Internet Security for Android is excellent and includes everything you need to protect your phone or tablet. We were happy to see that it still contains the anti-theft features, which Norton stopped offering in 2019.
Kaspersky Security Cloud for iOS Review
Key takeaway: Kaspersky does not offer antivirus software for iOS. Instead, you can buy the parental controls, password manager, and VPN as separate purchases. Or in a bundle, under the Security Cloud Personal.
Kaspersky does not have an antivirus or internet security app for iOS. And for solid reasons: Antivirus for iOS does not exist. Instead, most security apps for iOS are vulnerability checkers, password managers, and VPN.
Why is this? Because on iOS, every app lives in a sandbox, without access to the device and operating software at large. This means that malicious apps have a tough time infecting the entire device and that antivirus apps can’t scan the whole device either. So there is no need or possibility for antivirus software on iPhones and iPads.
So what does Kaspersky offer for iOS users? Kaspersky sells its three separate security apps on iOS:
- The password manager
- The parental controls, called Safe Kids
- The VPN, called Secure Connection
All are excellent apps, and we analyze them in more detail in dedicated sections of this review. Should you want all three, you can also get Kaspersky’s Security Cloud Personal, which includes each feature.
- Norton 100% 100%
- Kaspersky 99% 99%
- Bitdefender 99% 99%
- Avira 98% 98%
- AVG 98% 98%
- Avast 98% 98%
- McAfee 96% 96%
- BullGuard 96% 96%
- Windows Defender 95% 95%
- TotalAV 81% 81%
Graph 1: The average of all anti-malware test results for Windows 10 since October 2016 by AV-Test.
Kaspersky Internet Security 2023: Anti-Malware
Key takeaway: Kaspersky is one of the best anti-malware software on the market. When averaging all protection tests since October 2016, only Norton was able to beat it.
What are malware and anti-malware?
Malware describes a wide range of digital threats, including viruses, worms, adware, spyware, trojans, keyloggers, ransomware, and more. Anti-malware is the answer to those threats. It is the feature of antivirus software that detects and eliminates any malware on your device.
Until 2019, Windows Defender (the built-in defense of Windows) was largely incapable of dealing with malware. So it was essential to have a dedicated antivirus tool installed on your PC.
But things have changed. Since mid-2020, Windows Defender has become highly capable of detecting and eliminating malware on its own. In fact, its anti-malware test scores have been nearly identical with many of the big brands in the industry.
So do you still need anti-malware and antivirus in 2023?
Sadly, the answer is yes. You still need dedicated antivirus software.
Although Windows Defender has become highly capable of dealing with malware, identity theft and privacy infringement have become equally worrisome. And modern-day antivirus software are better suited to deal with these threats.
Nonetheless, we still want to test antivirus software for its anti-malware capabilities. After all, it must – at the very minimum – be able to match or beat Windows Defender.
How did we test Kaspersky, and how good is it?
There is an independent IT security institute in Germany called AV-Test. Since October 2016, they have tested each major antivirus brand six times per year in their anti-malware capabilities on Windows 10. We have averaged all those test results, which you can find in the graph above.
As you can see, Kaspersky sits near the top of that list. Tied with Bitdefender, it sits just behind Norton, and ahead of Avira, Avast, AVG, BullGuard, and Panda.
Image 2: Kaspersky’s password manager on Android and Windows.
Kaspersky Internet Security: Password Manager
Key takeaway: Kaspersky’s password manager is excellent. It allows you to use biometrics to log in, and creating, storing, and auto-filling passwords is a breeze on all operating software. In contrast to most password managers, it relies on desktop apps on Windows and macOS, rather than a web app. But that doesn’t get in the way of an excellent user experience.
Note: Kaspersky Internet Security does not incorporate the password manager for free, only as a paid extra. Should you want to use it, we recommend upgrading to the higher-end Total Security, which includes it as a free feature.
What is a password manager?
Using the same password and email combination for every website and account is incredibly unsafe. If one website gets hacked, and your login details are compromised, the hackers will have access to all your other accounts as well.
Preferably, you would use a unique and secure password for each of your accounts. An example could be: *u=opReP?s?QU#8C0jEp. However, we humans can’t remember or type such passwords. Luckily, a password manager can help.
A password manager does four things for you:
- It helps you to generate unique and secure passwords.
- It stores those passwords for you in a safe vault.
- It automatically fills in those passwords when you enter a website.
- It automatically syncs those passwords across all your devices.
It is an essential tool to stay safe online.
Kaspersky’s password manager is still mainly a desktop app.
Most password managers are apps on Android and iOS, and a web app on Windows and macOS. That means that you access the password manager through your browser on your PC or Mac, not through a dedicated app on your device.
For instance, the password managers by Norton and McAfee are both web apps on Windows and macOS. Likewise, Dashlane is sunsetting its desktop apps in favor of a fully web-first approach.
The advantages are simple: You access your passwords primarily via your browser extensions, so why not have the entire experience in the browser? On top of that, it allows the developer to drop the maintenance of separate Windows and macOS apps, while only needing to upkeep a single browser-based web app.
Kaspersky has both a web app and a desktop app. But during installation, we noticed that it was directing our attention mainly to the desktops apps. The truth is that we don’t mind either. Both methods work for us.
How do you set up Kaspersky’s password manager?
The setup is straightforward.
- If you bought Total Security, the password manager will have a link from the antivirus app. If you click it, it will take you to a page to download the password manager.
- If you purchased Anti-Virus or Internet Security, you will have to buy the password manager separately, as it isn’t included in either of these products. After the purchase, you can download the app.
Once you have the password manager on your PC or Mac, it will ask you to log in to your Kaspersky account and choose a password for your vault. As this will be the last password you will ever have to remember, we recommend that you make it a secure yet easy one.
Combining three random words, a number, a symbol, and several capital letters will do the trick. For instance: #PiePunchingPirate32
Once done, it will suggest that you install a browser extension in your default browser. It supports Edge, Chrome, Firefox, and more.
And that’s the complete installation process. From now on, when you log in to a website, it will automatically store the password and email combination. And when you return to that website at a later date, it will automatically fill in that combination for you. That allows you to set highly secure and unique passwords that you won’t need to remember.
And, of course, once you download the password manager apps on Android and iOS, you just need to log in. Then, all your passwords will be synced automatically between your devices.
How good is Kaspersky’s password manager?
It’s excellent. Creating, storing, and auto-filling passwords is a breeze on all operating software. Syncing passwords across devices and apps is nearly instantaneous. And to log into our apps, we could use biometrics (face recognition or fingerprint) on Android, iOS, and macOS.
It’s true that Dashlane’s browser extensions look sleeker and have a built-in password generator, which Kaspersky doesn’t. It’s also true that we could use the fingerprint scanner of our Windows laptop to log into McAfee’s True Key password manager, which we couldn’t with Kaspersky.
But that is splitting hairs. Overall, Kaspersky’s password manager is excellent. And if you’re in the Kaspersky family of products, there is absolutely no reason to be shopping around for another password manager.
Image 3: Kaspersky’s parental controls on Android and Windows.
Kaspersky Internet Security: Parental Controls
Key takeaway: Kaspersky’s parental controls, Safe Kids, are not perfect, but better than most. The GPS tracker only worked occasionally for us. But the analytics gave us many insight into our children’s digital lives. And by setting screentime limits, and blocking specific apps and websites, we were able to set protective boundaries. Note that his is not a set-it-and-forget-it app. It will take some time to learn what your kid is using, and what should and shouldn’t be blocked.
Note: Kaspersky Internet Security does not include the full parental controls. Only the Adult Content Blocker and Screen Time Management features. To access the full parental controls, you can either opt for the higher-end Total Security, or buy the parental controls as a standalone feature. Below, we review the complete parental controls.
What are parental controls?
Parental controls allow you insight into your children’s digital lives and protect them when and where needed. They also allow you, via GPS, to track where your kids are in the real world.
Although each parental controls feature has a slightly different range of options, Kaspersky’s allows you to:
- See where your kids are on a map, and designate an area where you allow them to be. Kaspersky will notify you when they step outside of this area.
- Set screen time limitations. You can set how many hours the device will be usable and when – for instance, 2 hours per day, but not after 20:00.
- Block age-inappropriate websites and apps via handy pre-made categories. And set daily time limits on specific apps, or block particular apps altogether.
- Check what your kids are viewing on YouTube, and set protective boundaries on what they can search for on YouTube.
How do you set up Kaspersky’s parental controls, called Safe Kids?
The setup is straightforward. In Kaspersky’s web app, you can create a profile for each child you want to protect. Our fictional kid was an 11-year-old boy named Balu, who uses a Windows laptop and Android phone.
The overall layout of the web app is very intuitive. In the dashboard, we got a quick overview of our son’s whereabouts in real life and his digital behavior. And from there, we could dive into other menu items:
- Location: We could see where our kid was on a map, and optionally, we could set a “safe” radius around him of up to 1.000 meters. If he left that radius, we would be notified.
- Internet: We could see what websites our son was visiting and when, and we could set boundaries. The default settings, for instance, blocked access to alcohol-related sites and filtered search and YouTube results. We decided to add online stores, banks, and payment systems to the blocked list. And there are several more options.
- Devices: We could see what devices our son was using, on what days, and between what hours. And we could set screentime limits. For instance, we chose to limit screentime to 2 hours per day on weekdays. And not allow the phone to be used between 15:00 and 16:00 (homework time) and between 20:00 and 08:00 (sleep time).
- Programs: We could see what programs our son was using, and we could block or set time limits to individual apps. For instance, we chose to block the Facebook and Netflix apps on his mobile phone.
- Social Media: We could choose to monitor our son’s Facebook account by connecting it to the parental controls.
From here on out, we just need to download the Safe Kids app to our son’s Windows PC and Android phone, run through the permission settings, and we were good to go.
Does it work?
We wanted to test Kaspersky’s abilities in four areas:
- GPS location tracking
- Internet monitoring and blocking
- Device monitoring and blocking
- Program monitoring and blocking
GPS location tracking
The GPS tracker was a bit of a disappointment. Our Android phone at times gave accurate coordinates, but most often it didn’t report any. Even when we had the Safe Kids app and Google Maps open, the location didn’t appear in our My Kaspersky dashboard.
Internet monitoring and blocking
Our son’s browsing behavior, on both his phone and laptop, was accurately reported in the admin in real-time. Whatever website he visited or search term he looked for, the information appeared neatly in our admin together with the device and time stamp.
And when he attempted to visit Netflix, Heineken, or Amazon, which were all part of a blocked category, he was politely refused entry.
Sadly, however, these websites were only blocked in Google Chrome. When we tried accessing them via the privacy-focused browser DuckDuckGo, the websites were freely accessible. So we added DuckDuckGo to the blocked program list.
But it shows that although the app tries its best, there will be loopholes that a smart kids might discover. So when you start using Safe Kids, you’ll need to monitor a bit more at the start, know what programs your kids use, and adjust accordingly.
Device monitoring and blocking
Kaspersky accurately showed us which devices our son was using, on what days, and at what times.
And during the hours that we blocked access to the phone to help him focus on his homework (15:00 and 16:00), nearly all apps were blocked with a few exceptions: Contacts, calendar, phone, Safe Kids, and confusingly, Game Launcher.
The first four exceptions we understand. After all, our son must be able to contact us in case of an emergency. But why Game Launcher was not blocked is beyond us.
Annoyingly, Game Launcher was not an app that we could set on a blocked list. We assume this is a bug that Kaspersky will fix.
Program monitoring and blocking
We had already added Netflix and Facebook to the blocked app list for our son’s phone. And as DuckDuckGo so easily evaded our internet censorship, we decided to add it to the blocked list too.
This was a success. Access to all three apps was politely refused when our fictional son attempted to access them.
So what to make of this?
Kaspersky’s Parental Controls, called Safe Kids, look great. And most of its functionality works excellent.
- It allows you to see what devices, websites, and programs your kids are using and when.
- And it allows you to set boundaries like screen time rules, or by blocking access to particular apps and websites.
But it’s not perfect. For example, the GPS tracking reported nothing. And some programs, like DuckDuckGo, were able to circumvent our censorship.
Of course, you can block access to DuckDuckGo altogether and solve that issue. But it shows that it is not a set-it-and-forget-it app. Instead, you’ll need to keep an eye out and see what apps and websites your children are using and make some adjustments along the way.
So, all in all, it is not perfect. But it will give you a significantly better insight into your children’s digital lives.
Image 4: Kaspersky’s VPN app on Android and Windows 10.
Kaspersky Internet Security 2023: VPN Review
Note: Kaspersky Internet Security includes a free VPN. This one is limited to 300 MB / day, doesn’t have a kill switch, and doesn’t allow you to select a server. Kaspersky sells its premium VPN as an extra service. Below, we review Kaspersky’s premium VPN.
What is a VPN?
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) encrypts your internet connection and hides your IP (Internet Protocol) address. Your IP address is the number that identifies your device online. Doing so has several advantages:
- Anonymity online. When connected to a VPN, trackers like certain governments, Internet Service Providers, Facebook, and Google can’t trace your online activity back to you.
- Safety on public Wi-Fi. Hackers won’t be able to read your data stream as it’s encrypted, making you safe on unsecured Wi-Fi connections.
- Stream foreign shows. By logging into foreign VPN servers, you can watch TV shows as if you were a local. This way, you can avoid the geographical restrictions on Netflix and sports events.
- Avoid censorship. Some countries, like China, block websites within their borders. By logging into a foreign VPN server, you can avoid those blockades.
So there is enough upside to using a VPN server. But should you use Kaspersky’s VPN? To find that out, we put it through several trials:
- On what operating software does the VPN work?
- How fast is it and how does it compare to other VPN?
- How secure it is?
- How private it is?
- How many server options do you have?
- Does it work with Netflix?
- Does it work with torrents (P2P)?
- Does it work in China?
Before we dive into those questions, it’s important to note one thing about Kaspersky’s VPN: It’s not their technology.
Multiple cybersecurity firms, like Panda, Bitdefender, and Kaspersky, have chosen to license the VPN technology of a different company and sell it as their own. All three license their VPN technology from Aura, the owner of several VPNs, including Hotspot Shield.
On what operating software does Kaspersky’s VPN work?
Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS.
How fast is Kaspersky’s VPN, and how does it compare?
When you connect with a VPN server, your internet speed slows due to the data encryption. However, when applying a fast VPN, like CyberGhost or NordVPN, the speed impact is usually limited to 5% to 15%.
To test Kaspersky’s download speed, we tested it on a 300 Mbps connection in Europe using speedtest.net.
- First, we tested the download speed without connecting to a VPN.
- Next, we connected to Kaspersky’s local VPN server and tested the download speed, after which we connected to one of Kaspersky’s US-based servers and tested the download speed again.
- Finally, we repeated the process for CyberGhost and Hotspot Shield to put these speeds into perspective.
We repeated each test three times and averaged the results. This is what we found:
|Hotspot Shield Local||284.6||-6.4%|
|Hotspot Shield US||300.1||-1.3%|
The results were simply excellent. Kaspersky’s speed tests were in line with the absolute fastest in the industry, and it could even keep up with CyberGhost’s speed while we applied the lightning-fast WireGuard protocol.
How secure is Kaspersky’s VPN?
By applying the same technology as Hotspot Shield, Kaspersky uses the Hydra VPN protocol with AES-256 encryption. It’s a fast protocol with no known security flaws, and Kaspersky didn’t leak any of our information in our WebRTC, DNS, and IP leak test using browserleaks.com.
However, there aren’t many security features, and advanced ones like Onion over VPN, protocol selection, split tunneling, or dedicated IP addresses aren’t available. Only the basics are present:
- Auto-Start and Auto-Connect: You can have the VPN start automatically and connect when you turn on your PC.
- Kill Switch: You can let the kill switch disconnect your internet connection if the VPN suddenly drops, preventing data from being sent via an unsecure connection.
- Smart Protection: You can let the VPN connect automatically (or request to connect) when sign-in to a public Wi-Fi network.
- Website Protection: You can specify websites or website categories that automatically start the VPN. On Android, you can also select apps that automatically create a VPN connection.
Although it certainly isn’t the most advanced VPN, it does cover the basics.
How private is Kaspersky’s VPN?
“Aura does not record your VPN browsing activities in any way that can be associated back to you. When you use a VPN connection, we do not store any information that identifies what you browse, view, or do online via that VPN connection. “
These are two data collection statements that you can find under settings in the app. By default, you are signed up for both. But you can opt out, which we recommend.
The declarations state that Kaspersky collects and processes:
- Your Kaspersky Account ID
- Your device type, model, and unique ID
- Your operating software, version, and ID
- Your geolocation
- Your VPN session duration
- Your choice of VPN server
- Your WiFi network, including name, IP, and DNS settings.
The declarations also state the purpose of the data collection:
- To improve product quality
- To offer you security solutions
- To provide you with relevant content and ads
- To create user groups for marketing offers and promo materials
So Kaspersky does not collect any information about what you actually do online, which is great. On top of that, you can opt out of the data that it does collect. However, it certainly collects far more information than it should.
How many server options does Kaspersky’s VPN have?
Kaspersky’s VPN has servers in 54 countries.
At the time of writing, we could select servers on a city-level in Canada, the UK, and the USA. But only on macOS and Android. Unfortunately, this feature was not yet available on Windows and iOS. But we suspect it will be in the future.
Outside of the many European countries, Kaspersky has servers in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, Egypt, the Philippines, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Kazakhstan, Mexico, New Zealand, Ukraine, Pakistan, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, South Africa, South Korea, the UAE, the UK, the USA, and Vietnam.
Does Kaspersky’s VPN work with Netflix?
Yes, in our test, Netflix streamed perfectly on both local and US servers.
Does Kaspersky’s VPN work with torrents (P2P)?
Yes, in our test, Popcorn Time worked perfectly on both local and US servers.
Does Kaspersky’s VPN work in China?
Perhaps. Kaspersky uses the same VPN tech as Hotspot Shield, which isn’t known for perfect functionality in highly censored countries. So we wouldn’t bet on it.
Kaspersky Lab: Company Profile
Kaspersky Lab is a privately held cybersecurity from Moscow, Russia. It was founded by Eugene Kaspersky, Natalya Kaspersky, and Alexey De-Monderik in 1997. Eugene Kaspersky has been the CEO since 2007.
In 2011, Kaspersky sold a 20% stake to private equity firm General Atlantic for $ 200 million, valuing the software brand at $1 billion.
The intention of the sale was for General Atlantic to help Kaspersky go public. However, when Kaspersky scrapped those plans a year later, it bought back the shares from the private equity firm.
In 2017, Kaspersky was accused of engaging with the FSB, the Russian Federal Security Service. This led the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to ban all of Kaspersky’s products from government departments.
Kaspersky denies the allegations and has suggested migrating the core infrastructure that handles foreign customer accounts to Switzerland, while submitting the software’s source code to independent review.
Today, Kaspersky serves 400 million private consumers and 270,000 corporate clients, making it one of the largest cybersecurity companies in the world. In 2020, its annual revenues were $ 704 million, representing a 2.8% increase from the previous year.
Kaspersky: Product Line-Up
Kaspersky’s home products feature the classic product line-up, ranging from the entry-level Anti-Virus, via the mid-level Internet Security, to the range-topping Total Security.
A relatively new addition is Kaspersky Security Cloud, which is similar to Total Security, but also gives access to Kaspersky’s Adaptive Security technology which are various cloud-based features.
There are two Internet security products for Mac and Android users, while iOS can only install the three features that Kaspersky sells separately. Namely, the VPN, password manager, and parental controls feature, called Safe Kids.
On the business side, Kaspersky has dedicated small business security products for companies with up to 100 employees. And it features endpoints security solutions for both medium businesses (101-999 employees) and enterprise customers (1000+ employees).
In this review, we focus on Kaspersky’s consumer products.
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Kaspersky’s entry-level Anti-Virus product only includes anti-virus, anti-phishing, and a performance optimizer.
It is a Windows-only product and costs $ 59.99 in the US.
Kaspersky Internet Security
Kaspersky’s mid-level security suite, Internet Security, includes everything from Anti-Virus. On of that, it adds a safe browser for online banking, a VPN, an ad blocker, an anti-tracker, webcam protection, and two parental control features that block adult content and set screen time limits.
It costs $ 79.99 in the US and is available on Windows, macOS, and Android.
Note: The VPN is limited to 300 MB / day. To get access to the unlimited VPN, you’ll have to buy Kaspersky’s premium VPN separately.
Kaspersky Total Security
Kaspersky’s top-level security suite, Total Security, includes everything from Internet Security. On of that, it adds encrypted file storage, a password manager, and a GPS child locator on top.
It costs $ 99.99 in the US and works on Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS.
Note: The VPN is limited to 300 MB / day. To get access to the unlimited VPN, you’ll have to buy Kaspersky’s premium VPN separately.
Kaspersky Security Cloud Personal
Kaspersky’s Security Cloud is identical to Total Security, but gives you access to additional features that fall under Kaspersky’s Adaptive Security technology. The core features are the Hard Drive Health Monitor, Home Wi-Fi Scanner, and Data Leaks check.
Interestingly, Kaspersky’s Security Cloud product sells for $ 89.99 in US, which is $ 10.00 less than Total Security. So you get more but pay less. It works on Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS.
Note: With Security Cloud, Kaspersky’s VPN is limited to 500 MB / day, rather than 300 MB / day, as it is in Total Security. To get access to the unlimited VPN, you’ll have to buy Kaspersky’s premium VPN separately.
Kaspersky VPN Secure Connection
Kaspersky sells its premium VPN separately. The premium VPN has no data limit, allows you to select a server from 54 countries, has optimized servers for Netflix in the UK and US, and features a kill switch.
It works on Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS, and costs $ 29.99 per year in the US.
Kaspersky Password Manager
Kaspersky includes the password manager in the Total Security product, but also sells it separately. It works on Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS, and sells for $ 14.99 per year in the US.
Kaspersky Safe Kids
Kaspersky includes its parental controls in the Total Security product, but also sells it separately. It works on Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS, and sells for $ 14.99 per year in the US.
Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac
Kaspersky’s Internet Security for macOS includes anti-virus, anti-phishing, anti-tracker, VPN, webcam protection, and a firewall.
It sells for $ 39.99 in the US and is exclusively for macOS.
Note: The VPN is limited to 300 MB / day. To get access to the unlimited VPN, you’ll have to buy Kaspersky’s premium VPN separately.
Kaspersky Internet Security for Android
Kaspersky Internet Security for Android comes in two versions: Free and Premium. The free version features manual antivirus cans, anti-theft, anti-stalkerware, and a call filter. The premium includes all of those, and adds automatic antivirus scans, anti-phishing, and anti-theft on top.
It costs $ 19.99 per year in the US and is exclusively for Android.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are the most frequently asked questions about Kaspersky.
Is Kaspersky Internet Security any good?
Kaspersky internet security is one of the best security solutions available. It combines top-tier anti-malware with a range of advanced protection features, such as anti-phishing, payment protection, VPN, ad blocker, anti-tracker, webcam protection, and parental controls.
Is Kaspersky Internet security better than antivirus?
Yes. Kaspersky Anti-Virus is fairly limited, and only offers anti-malware and performance optimization features. Kaspersky Internet Security offers those features too, but adds a range of functionality on top. Such as a VPN, payment protection, ad blocking, anti-tracking, webcam protection, parental controls, and more.
What is difference between Kaspersky Internet Security and Total security?
Kaspersky Total Security includes all of Internet Security’s features, but adds a password manager, GPS child locator, and file backup on top. The most valuable of these additions is the password manager, which is excellent.
Author: Tibor Moes
Founder & Chief Editor at SoftwareLab
Tibor is a Dutch engineer and entrepreneur. He has tested security software since 2014.
Over the years, he has tested most of the best antivirus software for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS, as well as many VPN providers.
He uses Norton to protect his devices, CyberGhost for his privacy, and Dashlane for his passwords.
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