Kaspersky Internet Security 2013
Protecting against 100 per cent of the malware we exposed it to, Kaspersky Internet Security is the best bit of security software we've tested. In 100 tests, Kaspersky defended against 99 malicious programs, blocking them before they could even begin installation. One briefly made it on to our test system, but was soon neutralized.
The program didn't do quite as well in our false positive tests, though. When we tried to install a range of both popular and obscure benign programs, Kaspersky threw up warnings about some applications but only blocked one from being installed. Even so, its total accuracy rating of 390.5 was the best we've seen. If some particularly obscure application does get flagged as malicious, then you can view it in Kaspersky's quarantine window and restore it if you're sure that it's not malicious.
Internet Security 2013's interface and features haven't changed much since the five-star performance of the 2012 version. The main screen gives you an overview of the status of your anti-virus software and its updates, the presence of any threats on your system and any recommendations the software has to improve your system's security.
At the bottom is a row of buttons that gives you quick access to the software's most important features. The first option takes you to the Scan screen, where you can manually start a scan of your entire system, critical areas, check a directory tree of your own choosing or get the program to look for potential vulnerabilities. While these manual scan options can be reassuring, you don't have to use them to keep your system safe, as Kaspersky automatically stays on the alert for potential threats, neutralising them and scanning your system as soon as it detects anything untoward.
Other key features available on the main screens' icon bar include an update checker to make sure you have the latest virus definitions, parental controls and a Safe Money feature that opens designated online banking or payment sites in a protected browser window - it's worth noting that you only get this protected session if you add the site to Safe Money and open it from there, rather than simply visiting using your web browser.
The Parental Controls allow you to limit the times that a designated account can use the computer, block their access to specific applications, control their use of instant messaging or social networking tools, limit their web usage and block websites either specifically based on standard parental control categories such as drugs, pornography and casual games.
A second set of icons accessible via a right-scroll button on the main screen gives you access to less frequently used features of the security suite, including an application activity monitor, network monitor and a shortcut to a few extra tools that help you create a bootable Kaspersky rescue disk, clear your PC's cache of unwanted files and check Internet Explorer's security settings.
If you like to micro-manage the nuts and bolts of your anti-virus software's behaviour, there's plenty to tinker with in the Settings screens, including fine control of how thoroughly normally-harmless file types are scanned. You can also enable other features, including an ad-blocking Anti-Banner option and a virtual keyboard for your online banking that'll foil any key logger.
Kaspersky Internet Security 2013 isn't particularly cheap, but the protection given outweighs this concern. It's also worth noting that you can make considerable savings by buying an older 2012 edition, we've seen three-user editions available for as little as £13. You'll automatically be upgraded to the latest version, but stocks are limited and prices may be inconsistent.
ANTI-VIRUS PROTECTION RESULTS
This graph is a straight percentage of the threats that were either blocked immediately, or neutralised on a further system scan. Each product lost marks if it was allowed to be compromised. With 100 threats per bit of software, each percentage point counts as one bit of malware.
False positive score: blocked
This graph is a straight percentage showing how many bits of legitimate software were blocked. We didn't include any scores for warnings here. With 100 bits of software, each percentage point counts as a single legitimate application. On this graph lower scores are better.
Protection Rating (weighted)
Our protection ratings, scored out of 300, award products extra points for completely blocking a threat, while removing points when they are compromised by a threat. We awarded three points for defending against a threat, one for neutralizing it and deducted five points every time a product allowed the system to be compromised. The best possible score is 300 and the worst is -500. The reason behind this score weighting is to give credit to products that deny malware any opportunity to tamper with the system and to penalize heavily those that fail to prevent an infection.
Total Accuracy Rating (weighted)
Our total accuracy rating combines the scores from the Protection Rating and adds scores for weighted False Positive ratings. Each product scores one point for each legitimate program it lets through. We deducted points if a program was warned about and more points if it was blocked. All deductions were based on a program's prevalence, so the more popular the application, the more points that were deducted. For example, blocking Skype is worse than blocking the Vuze BitTorrent client. In this graph, there is a maximum possible score of 400 and a minimum of -1,000.