Kaspersky Total Security 2017 review

Anti-malware tool has some feature you never knew you needed

IT Pro Recommended
Price
£39
  • Security Network pools intelligence, good range of tools, low price
  • Slow to show interface, no explicit anti-ransomware module, cannot resize interface.

Kaspersky's products always gain high marks for overall protection. The 2016 Total Security offering scored an AAA rating in independent testing by SE Labs and top marks in AV-Test's tests. The threat landscape is now becoming more sophisticated, with ransomware quickly becoming the number one threat to business and home users. Online transactions are also threatened by a host of malign influences, as is online privacy. Any internet security suite worth its salt must cover many angles and Kaspersky's new offering does so in spades.

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Startup businesses, pushed for cash for security, are a magnet for cybercrime but still need to make sure their systems are protected. Kaspersky Total Security 2017 can help here. The anti-malware engine is as capable as that in Kaspersky's enterprise offerings, there are some cool tools for keeping connections secure on the road, and for checking the reputation of attachments.

Setting up

Installation is very simple, as you'd expect from such a mature product. Simply download the package and run it. You'll be offered the opportunity to participate in the cloud-based Kaspersky Security Network. This is well worth considering, especially for business users, because it pools intelligence about new and unknown threats from millions of other participants. The results provide updated intelligence to all participants, ensuring the quickest reaction times to new threats, fewer false positives, and better protection all round.

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During installation, you not only get Kaspersky Total Security, but also Kaspersky Secure Connection (KSC). This is a private VPN for executives on the road who don't (and frankly shouldn't) trust local internet and WiFi connections. Some hotels and conference centres are targets for criminals who syphon off personal and corporate data. KSC also hides your real IP address and therefore your location. It's also great for shopping online. When Kaspersky detects you're using an insecure connection, a pop-up will give you the option to "enable protection". Simply click this for peace of mind.

Features

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Kaspersky Total Security also contains some nice-to-haves you never knew you needed. For example, the webcam can be rendered completely off limits to all software until you say so.

Ransomware is on the rise and the effects can be devastating for the unwary. If someone sends you an unknown file, simply right click it. You can scan it locally for viruses, just as you can in most other AV packages. However, you can also check its reputation against the Kaspersky Security Network, and therefore against the knowledge of potentially millions of other users. If it has been reported by others, you'll know without making a costly mistake.

Don't like targeted ads? Then switch to Kaspersky's private browsing mode and no tracking services will be able to gather information about the sites you access or the services you use.

Some data need to remain locked up no matter what. Whether it's a Christmas list, your company accounts or something more personal, Kaspersky's Data Encryption facility enables you to create a password-protected data vault into which you can place files. They are encrypted using strong AES-256 encryption. As this is the only current public cipher certified by the NSA for top secret information, you can be sure that no one (or ransomware) will be accessing your secrets any time soon.

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Password management is currently a very hot topic, especially considering the number of mega breaches that have occurred recently. The problem here is that we humans are terrible at remembering passwords, and so tend to re-use them for many years at a time. Kaspersky's integrated password manager will keep all your passwords for you, thereby enabling you to automatically log into all your sites and services, while allowing you to maintain different passwords on each.

Kids need access to the digital world, but it can be a very dangerous place. Switch on Parental Controls, and you can protect your offspring from visiting age-inappropriate sites, and limit the time they spend online with a digital curfew.

Keylogging and other online eavesdropping during the use of online payment systems and while doing online banking are becoming a major concern for home users, but for business users it could be even more disastrous. To overcome this, Kaspersky has included Safe Money. This allows you to specify all the financial sites you use, and to access them using the included Protected Browser. Once engaged, if the frame around the browser is green, your transaction is totally private. If it's orange, either there's been an error, or your system has critical vulnerabilities that should be addressed.  To prevent keyloggers collecting your data from the physical keyboard, Safe Money also contains a virtual keyboard.

Other nice touches include the Software Cleaner, which scans installed applications for those you never use or which can be considered adware. For those new to online life, Trusted Applications Mode ensures that only applications listed in the Kaspersky Labs database will run, meaning no more dodgy downloads by your offspring (or employees).

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Finally, if you need the reassurance of knowing that your computer is completely clean, you can create a Rescue Disk on a USB drive. This is then booted, and the sleeping system is thoroughly scanned. Rootkits and other stealth malware cannot hide from this form of scanning, though it will take several hours to fully complete its analysis.

What about mobile users? Well, Android, Windows and Apple are all covered by downloads from their respective stores. By creating an account on MyKaspersky, you can remotely manage devices, including locking, locating and wiping a stolen phone or tablet. Another useful feature is call and text filtering. Despite Android technical limitations, this should deliver some measure of protection from unwanted texts and calls.

Kaspersky Total Security 2017 is great for home users, but its tools also make it more than capable in a small business context. The Secure Connection facility will keep senior executives safe from insecure internet connections while on the road, and in cases where laptops and other devices could be stolen or lost, Data Encryption will ensure that your company secrets remain securely locked to NSA standards. Finally, by participating in the Kaspersky Security Network, you'll contribute to helping yourselves and others stay ahead of the malware game.

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Conclusion

Criticisms? A few, but not many, and they're more niggles than anything. There's no dedicated anti-ransomware module that looks for the rapid encryption of files, but ransomware is easily defeated using the built-in backup/restore utility and data vault. The user interface is slow to load, and it cannot be resized. Overall, however, this is one package that should be on anyone's shortlist, including small businesses looking for wide-ranging cover that won't blow the IT budget.

Verdict

Easy installation, the backing of a global community, and privacy tools make Kaspersky Total Security 2017 a good choice for startups as well as home users

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