Kaspersky Internet Security 2013: Good protection, advanced settings (minus the jargon)

Kaspersky's 2013 suite lets beginners and advanced users alike will get the most out of the product

Kaspersky Internet Security 2013 ($60 for one year and three PCs, as of 12/19/12) is a solid antimalware suite that provides admirable protection and an excellent settings interface. This program looks a little different from the other suites we tested, mainly because of its teal-and-white colors, in contrast to the green-is-good/red-is-bad user interface that most other security packages use. But once you get past the fact that teal is sort of the same as green (trust us, this takes a moment), it's a good program that will keep you safe from most incoming attacks.

In our real-world attack test, Kaspersky completely blocked 94.4 percent of attacks. Unfortunately, the 5.6 percent of attacks that it failed to block completely were not blocked at all--in other words, our test system got infected 5.6 percent of the time. The real-world attack test demonstrates how well a suite will be able to block brand-new malware attacks as it encounters them in the wild, so this is not a great sign.

Kaspersky's suite was able to detect 98.1 percent of known malware samples in our malware-zoo detection test. This detection rate is fairly good, but seven of the nine suites we tested had higher rates (98.8 percent or more). Kaspersky did have an excellent false-positive rate, as it didn't flag any safe files as malicious; that puts Kaspersky in the top four of the suites we tested for that measure.

In our system cleanup test, the Kaspersky software did an excellent job of detecting, disabling, and fully cleaning up infections. It detected and disabled all infections on our test PC, and fully cleaned up all traces of malware 80 percent of the time. Of the suites we tested, only two packages (Bitdefender and F-Secure) cleaned up more infections (90 percent), while three suites, including Kaspersky's, cleaned up 80 percent.

Kaspersky will add a little weight to your system, and it will slow down some operations more than most of its competitors will. In our performance tests, the program added just over 2 seconds to startup time (as compared to a PC with no antivirus program installed), and just over 10 seconds to shutdown time. Although that doesn't seem like a lot, those extra seconds make Kaspersky's suite one of the heaviest antimalware programs we tested (it placed seventh in startup time and dead last in shutdown time). In addition, Kaspersky's software dragged down the speed of file downloads, as well as of file copying operations.

Its manual scan times are better than average, however: The program took first place in on-demand (manual) scan time (1 minute, 10 seconds), and ninth place in on-access scan time (6 minutes, 8 seconds). Its on-demand scan time is significantly better than the average scan time of 1 minute, 33 seconds, but its on-access scan time is more than a minute slower than the average scan time of 4 minutes, 50 seconds.

Kaspersky Internet Security 2013 is quick and painless to install. It has just four screens to click through, and registering your product is as easy as typing in your email address. The program doesn't try to install a toolbar, but it does attempt to install the Kaspersky Anti-Banner Firefox add-on, which appears to be an ad blocker. Kaspersky doesn't require a reboot.

Kaspersky's user interface is simple, straightforward, and easy to understand. The main window features a large top banner that shows whether your system is protected, with smaller links to important features below: scan, update, Safe Money (a feature designed to keep you secure when you make financial transactions online), parental control, applications activity, network monitor, quarantine, and tools. In the upper-right corner of the main window are buttons for reports and settings.

The settings menu looks a little intimidating at first glance, but it's actually quite easy to navigate. It presents four tabs--Protection Center, Scan, Update, and Advanced Settings--and each tab has several subcategories, which lead to settings screens. Each settings screen has a short description of what the feature does, and all wording is simple and lacking in security jargon. Although the suite has plenty of advanced options for veteran security users, it explains everything in plain English.

Kaspersky Internet Security 2013 is a competent antimalware program complete with an understandable user interface and settings that are easy to navigate. We especially like how the program combines advanced settings with simply worded explanations, so that beginners and advanced users alike will be able to get the most out of the product.

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