Basic protection

Kaspersky Anti-Virus

Premium security

Kaspersky Total Security

Kaspersky Anti-Virus stops all sorts of malware, including ransomware and phishing schemes, without causing drag on your system. It includes a virtual keyboard and phishing filters.

$30 at Kaspersky

Pros

  • Excellent protection
  • No drain on resources
  • Virtual keyboard
  • Budget-friendly

Cons

  • Removed from government systems
  • Lacks advanced tools

Building on the great protections of its antivirus program, Kaspersky Total Security includes a firewall, system scanner and some of the best parental controls designed to stop cyberbullying.

$50 at Kaspersky

Pros

  • High protection score
  • Personal firewall
  • Parental controls
  • Safe banking tools
  • VPN

Cons

  • Banned from government use
  • No webcam monitoring

Both AntiVirus and Total Security are built on Kaspersky's stellar malware protection program and earn near-perfect scores for stopping all types of malware, including ransomware and phishing schemes. The big difference is the amount of extra protection you want to invest in. Anti-Virus is pretty bare-boned while Total Security includes a firewall, VPN, and some of the best parent controls on the market.

What do both Kaspersky Anti-Virus and Total Security have?

Both Kaspersky Anti-Virus and Total Security have excellent malware detection and protection capabilities. As malicious files begin downloading, Kaspersky stops and either quarantines or instantly scrubs the threat. With its safe browsing features, search results are tagged, so you easily see which sites are safe to visit. Kaspersky's safe browser also includes phishing filters that block you from schemes asking for personal information. In fact, in our in-house tests, we attempted to access webpages designed to look like Facebook and PayPal account logins, but Kaspersky blocked them and displayed warning messages with details about the threat it stopped.

A virtual keyboard is included with all Kaspersky programs that keep everything you type hidden from keyloggers and other snoops. This is helpful when signing into online accounts, including social media, email, and credit card companies.

Kaspersky is an overall great deal. Its programs come with a minimum of three licenses that averages out to about $10, or less, per license. This is substantially less than the average $30 to $40 price range for basic antivirus software and $100 for a single premium protection license.

What Total Security has that Anti-Virus doesn't

Kaspersky Total Security is one of the most comprehensive internet security programs available. On top of a firewall, which we highly recommend any user have in addition to basic virus protection, Total Security includes a system scanner that looks for vulnerabilities like outdated software programs and weak password and gives you suggestions to fix them. Also included are safe banking tools to shield account and credit card information while you shop and bank online, and a VPN to keep trackers, cookies, and adware from bugging you and capturing your online history. The only advanced security tool Kaspersky doesn't include with Total Security is webcam monitoring.

One of the best features of Kaspersky Total Security is its parental controls. These give you the power to determine when your child can be online and what they can see. You can click filter categories, like violence, drugs, and pornography, and Kaspersky will automatically block websites with this content from being accessed by your child. It also has a list of keywords and phrases that your child from can't see or type out in emails, texts, personal messages, or on message boards. These include "don't tell" and "home alone," and you can add your own to the list, like birthdates and phone numbers. This is an additional layer of protection against cyberbullies and other bad-actors from interacting with your child. Kaspersky's Total Security works on Android devices, too, so you can monitor your child's online activity on their phone as well.

Kaspersky Total Security is our pick. Here's why.

Kaspersky's Anti-Virus is a decent program that protects well against malware, including ransomware, and is an overall good deal. But for a few dollars more you can get complete coverage of your entire system with Kaspersky Total Security. This premium program watches your internet connection with the included firewall and tells you of weak spots, like out-of-date software, where hackers and ransomware tend to sneak in. The safe banking tools, coupled with the virtual keyboard, shield your keystrokes as you log into banking and credit card accounts, and protect personal information while shopping online. But what makes us recommend Total Security over Anti-Virus is the parental controls.

The parental controls keep tabs on what your child is doing online, even on cell phones. You can block inappropriate content and set timers for when and how long they have internet access. The best feature is the keywords and phrases. This keeps your child from seeing words like "don't tell" and "what's your name," even in personal messages, which is a powerful tool for blocking cyber bullies and stalkers from asking dangerous questions to your child. The keyword feature also stops your child from typing and sharing personal information online.

Is Kaspersky safe?

In 2017, anonymous sources revealed to The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal details about Kaspersky using its antivirus programs to collect information from U.S. government workers' computers about the inner workings of several organizations and infrastructures. This information was allegedly passed on to Russian officials. However, the U.S. government has never officially confirmed these allegations, and a followup article from Reuters found no evidence.

As a precaution, the U.S. government ordered all departments to uninstall Kaspersky products from government computers and requires any employee or contractor system that interact with government systems to also be Kaspersky-free. However, officials stopped short of implementing a full ban to keep Kaspersky from being used by consumers and never imposed punitive sanctions, though they were threatened. Several vendors, including Best Buy, stopped offering Kaspersky products to its customers and Kaspersky, ultimately, moved its legal, production, operation and server facilities out of Russia where they are now subject to third-party inspections.

Despite the muddiness of Kaspersky's past, it has remained a viable antivirus solution that consistently scores high, or perfectly in independent tests for malware protection. It also doesn't cause computers to lag while installed and running, and its mobile and Mac programs are also good.

While it is ultimately an individual choice, we haven't seen anything concrete that should preclude Kaspersky as a top and secure pick for personal computer protection.

Our pick

Kaspersky Total Security

All encompassing protection

Total Security is at the top when it comes to stopping malware, and it includes extra security with safe banking tools, VPN, and personal firewall. But its parental controls really make this premium security software standout from others.

Budget-friendly

Kaspersky Anti-Virus

Low cost, high protection

Anti-Virus comes with multiple user licenses, and though it's a basic malware program, it's still one of the best when it comes to stopping internet threats. It comes with a virtual keyboard to shield your keystrokes from keyloggers and other snoops.

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