Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac review

Kaspersky's Internet Security for Mac performs reasonably well.

The Russian virus specialist released the Kaspersky Anti-Virus for Mac - its first program for the Macintosh - five years ago. We found it immature and unstable back then so were looking forward to see how it's developed since, in its latest form now presented as Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac.

As an internet security suite it includes more than just simple anti-virus protection – in this case you get a parental control module. This is designed to provide limits to the use of the web, time spent online, sharing of personal data and use of social networks.

See also: Best Mac antivirus software | Mac software reviews

Additionally Kaspersky Lab includes a section it calls Web Anti-Virus, which checks the reputation of any site you visit. As with all such pre-screen site checks, privacy issues arise – to function, every site URL you type or click will be sent to Kaspersky for verification.

The company also explains in its licences that after automatically opting you in to the Kaspersky Security Network it will collect information about your computer, suspect files on it, applications you download and use, as well as upload suspect files to its server. This is typical for most AV companies, and you can deselect from a tickbox during installation or thereafter.

Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac: Application design and features

The main interface window of Kaspersky Internet Security is modestly small, taking up the least space of any security program we’ve tried. The metal-coloured window is dominated by a large glassy dome window, which is lit in green when the program thinks all is well; and a thundery red (replete with cloudy lightning graphic) when it detects security issues. And when it initially detects a threat, the application can be heard to roar if you have your speakers turned up.

At the bottom of the window are areas that link to the three main sections of the program – File Anti-Virus, Web Anti-Virus and Parental Control. By clicking any one of these a larger Preferences window overlaps the main interface and provides manifold configuration options.

It’s easy to quit the app to entirely disable any real-time protection – sometimes useful but also a double-edged sword of a feature.

We did experience stability issues again. It gave up half-way through one custom file scan, and later froze and became unresponive after we’d downloaded an EICAR test file. Several minutes later the application righted itself and became usable again. After a different freeze, the menu shortcut indicated that protection was ‘Starting...’ without fully confirming it was ever actually working.

A potentially useful feature could be the on-screen virtual keyboard. This is in a bid to defeat keylogging software that silent captures your every keystroke, and is a favourite way to garner passwords from a target’s computer. There’s arguably less need for Kaspersky Lab’s Windows feature on a Mac, since OS X already has a very serviceable keyboard palette available. But increasing awareness of such a feature and its benefits could be a good move. We were unable to evaluate the version offered here, as it could not be activated from the applications preferences inside the KSN module.

Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac: Performance

Kaspersky Lab’s security suite proved moderately capable in its malware protection in lab tests conducted by Security Spread. From the sample set of 422 Mac malware installers it caught 396, returning a score here of 91.6 percent effective. From the smaller 107 set of malware components already installed, Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac identified 46, or just 43 percent. That puts it in the lower half of the six products reviewed here.

False positives were low, only identifying the same single sample of BitVanity source code as malignant, like every other security product. In use we were not troubled by any similar false alarms.

The software seems to check all file movements on the Mac’s boot drive, as we discovered when duplicating our test directory. This took over 11 minutes, one of the slowest times on test. On-demand scanning proved better than the norm at just 1 min 44 seconds for a 38,359 files. And a subsequent scan on the same folder took just 11 seconds and indicated that 23,730 files had been examine.

This speed-up of scanning suggests that additional fingerprinting of 'safe' files was in place after their first scan. But quitting and restarting the app put it back to a full directory scan, so this information is not cached between launches.

How to remove Mac malware for free

OUR VERDICT

Kaspersky’s Mac security program has improved since its first iterations, although we still saw issues that make us hesitate in recommending it. It’s at the top end of the price bracket at £40 every year, and was not as stable as we would expect for a premium-priced product. Its malware-spotting credentials put it fifth in this six-way test.

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