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Kaspersky Premium

Kaspersky Premium review: Impeccable protection and loads of features

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : 23
(/yr, inc VAT)

One of the best all-round security suites on the market, but tragically overshadowed by the current geopolitical context

Pros

  • Very strong malware protection
  • Impressive VPN
  • Competitive price

Cons

  • Not quite the fastest antivirus solution
  • Russian origin may be a concern

In the present climate, you might be wary of entrusting your security to a company founded in Russia. That’s a shame for everyone, as Kaspersky has historically been one of our top picks for online security, and there’s no evidence that it’s ever betrayed the trust of its customers. Indeed, in the past few years it’s taken active steps to distance itself from Moscow, transferring operations to a holding company in the UK and moving its data centres to Switzerland.

If you do decide to invest in Kaspersky Premium, you won’t be disappointed. Its malware protection is excellent but the package’s capabilities go way beyond that, and at a price that easily undercuts most rivals. If you’re still unsure, check out the alternatives in our roundup of the best antivirus suites.

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Kaspersky Premium review: What do you get for the money?

Kaspersky Premium is the company’s top-of-the-range security suite and it’s loaded with features. Aside from real-time malware detection and blocking, it will flag up unpatched vulnerabilities and outdated applications on your system, and warn you if it detects an active network incursion or a potential remote-access exploit lurking on your PC. If you can’t clear out a stubborn virus, a Kaspersky agent will even – with your permission – remotely connect to your computer and fix it for you.

There are multiple layers of protection against phishing scams and risks to your online identity. The Safe Money feature automatically moves banking and shopping transactions into Kaspersky’s own secure browser and the software will warn you if your credentials leak online via a third-party breach. Kaspersky’s free password manager is bundled into the package too, along with a variety of system optimisation tools that we can take or leave.

There’s plenty here for advanced users, too, including a highly customisable firewall, a network activity monitor and a LAN scanner that tracks what’s connected to your router. Extensive technical reports from all of the package’s different components are just a click away, as are countless pages of advanced settings that allow you to finely customise almost every aspect of Kaspersky’s behaviour. 

While Kaspersky Premium doesn’t include cloud backup like Norton 360 does, it arguably makes up for that with a more impressive VPN. This works across all supported platforms and provides unlimited access to 101 servers in 80 countries, plus curated connections optimised for file-sharing and region-restricted streaming services. The Windows client includes a kill-switch, auto-activation, split tunnelling and a clever per-website setting, so for most people it can fully replace a standalone VPN subscription. I’ve just one reservation: the service is operated by Pango, which is based in the US, so it might not suit those who are really serious about privacy.

Considering its breadth of features, Kaspersky Premium is remarkably cheap. Right now, if you buy direct from Kaspersky, the first year will cost you just £23 for five PCs, Macs, smartphones or tablets, including a free year of Kaspersky’s cross-platform Safe Kids parental controls. Inevitably, the price goes up in the second year but it isn’t such an outrageous hike as with Norton: automatic renewals are charged at £58/yr, less than a pound a month, per device. Alternatively, of course, you can disable auto-renewal, and just buy another cut-price licence when the time comes. 

If you don’t need the fully loaded suite, you might choose the Kaspersky Plus package, which is mostly the same but lacks the active identity protection features, and puts you in a lower priority tier for remote-access support. Even cheaper is Kaspersky Standard, which additionally drops the VPN and the data leak checker. The savings aren’t huge, however: the Plus package costs £21 for five devices in the first year, subsequently rolling over at £55 per annum, while the Standard suite is £17 for the first twelve months and renews at £45.

READ NEXT: Eset Internet Security (2023) review


Kaspersky Premium Review: Will it keep you safe?

I’ve been reviewing Kaspersky’s security products for well over a decade, and it’s never been far from the top of the table in terms of malware protection. That continues in the most recent independent tests: AV-Comparatives’ extensive March 2023 malware protection test subjected a target computer to more than 10,000 types of malware attack, and saw Kaspersky achieve a very strong overall protection rate of 99.96%.

AV-Comparatives protection results, March 2023 (%)Offline detectionOnline detectionOnline protectionFalse positives
Avast One96.90%99.50%99.97%2
AVG Internet Security96.90%99.50%99.97%2
Avira Internet Security97.00%99.10%99.96%2
Bitdefender Internet Security98.10%98.10%99.94%6
ESET Internet Security97.40%97.40%99.94%0
F-Secure SAFE96.90%98.70%99.96%14
G Data Total Security98.80%98.80%99.95%2
Kaspersky Premium90.00%97.90%99.96%2
McAfee Total Protection89.60%99.70%99.99%9
Microsoft Windows Defender83.10%99.30%99.98%32
Norton 360 Deluxe91.10%99.70%99.99%3
Panda Dome72.20%95.50%99.97%102
Trend Micro Internet Security60.90%91.80%97.19%10

Kaspersky didn’t quite take the gold medal overall: in particular its detection scores were below average, implying that it might miss something dangerous in a scan. However, its very strong protection score of 99.96% indicates that, once a threat tries to actively compromise your computer, Kaspersky will step in and block it, with a reassuringly low false-positive rate. It’s true that several other packages achieved even better protection rates in this test – namely Avast, AVG, McAfee, Norton, Panda and (slightly embarrassingly) Windows’ own built-in Defender antivirus. But the difference is so small it’s hardly worth worrying about – we’re talking hundredths of a percentage point. 

AV-Test.org also tested Kaspersky Premium as part of its latest round-up of consumer security suites. During January and February 2023, testers pitted the software against over 11,000 viruses and other threats, including more than 360 never-before-seen “zero-day” attacks – and here Kaspersky put in an exemplary shift, blocking every attack in every category.

AV-Test.org protection results, Jan/Feb 2023 (%)0-day Jan0-day FebWidespread JanWidespread Feb
Avast One100100100100
AVG Internet Security100100100100
Avira Internet Security100100100100
Bitdefender Internet Security100100100100
Eset Internet Security98.998.3100100
F-Secure SAFE99.5100100100
G Data Total Security100100100100
Kaspersky Premium100100100100
Malwarebytes Premium98.997.8100100
McAfee Total Protection100100100100
Microsoft Windows Defender100100100100
Norton 360 Deluxe100100100100
Trend Micro Internet Security100100100100

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Kaspersky Premium review: Will it slow your computer down?

I used the Expert Reviews in-house browser benchmark to test Kaspersky Premium’s impact on web browsing in Chrome and was pleased to find that it let me download and open files considerably more quickly than Windows’ default Defender module. Ten JPEGs were saved in a total of 0.14 seconds, versus 0.87 seconds with Defender; ten Word documents downloaded in 2.1 seconds, while Defender took 3.4 seconds. The difference may sound small, but it adds up across all the images, scripts and other items bundled up in a modern website.

As well as native scanning, Kaspersky offers a free extension for Chrome, Edge and Firefox, which performs active website scanning and reputation checking, to steer you away from untrustworthy sites before they can scam or infect you. Installing this made no difference to download performance, but it did slightly increase the time taken to render PDFs and JPEGs in the browser: without the extension, our sets of ten test files in these formats opened in a total of 0.29 seconds and 0.32 seconds respectively, while enabling the plug-in increase the times to 0.5 and 0.53 seconds.

Other tests don’t show Kaspersky in quite such a positive light. Across two months of tests, AV-Test found that the software slowed down web browsing by an average of 27%, while Windows Defender only had an impact of 17%. On the plus side, the German Lab reported that launching applications was slowed down by only 8% on average, matching Windows Defender, and copying files with the software installed entailed a hit of just 1%, versus a massive 44% using Windows’ built-in protections. 

AV-Comparatives also gave Kaspersky a positive score for performance, rating it “very fast” for almost every desktop operation – the one exception being launching applications for the first time, where it was deemed merely “fast”.

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Kaspersky Premium review: Should you buy it?

Kaspersky’s latest security suite delivers excellent protection against all types of online hazard, and even includes a very decent VPN for a knock-down price. It doesn’t top every performance test, but it’s faster than the standard Windows Security features in numerous areas, so overall it shouldn’t feel like it’s slowing you down.

Unfortunately, before you sign up, you’ll need to decide whether you’re happy to do business with a company whose fortunes contribute to the Russian economy, and which – despite its creditable efforts to move operations outside of Russia – may not be fully insulated from political pressure.

If you want to consider other options, strong alternatives include the lightweight Eset Internet Security and the ultra-fast, superbly effective Norton 360 Deluxe. You’ll find other alternatives in our round-up of the best antivirus suites – and, in the meantime, let’s hope for a time very soon when we can once more give Kaspersky software the recommendation it deserves.

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Reviews
Kaspersky Premium review: Impeccable protection
Internet security

One of the best all-round security suites on the market, but tragically overshadowed by the current geopolitical context

23 (/yr, inc VAT)