Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac review

Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac originates in Russia, which could raise concerns as the news suggests that quite a lot of cybersecurity threats originate there. However, perhaps it makes sense to tackle them using an antivirus app that originates there too.

Whatever the case, we took a look at Kaspersky Internet Security, which is £39.99/$39.99 per year for one device, and available to buy here. This contains additional features like privacy and online payment protection, and if you want just the virus scanning then Kaspersky Anti-Virus is available for £24.99/$24.99 per year. (You’ll find more options in our round-up of the best antivirus for Mac).

Downloading Kaspersky presented challenges because you have to choose the right version for your Mac. Version 16 is available for OS X 10.9 and 10.10, and version 18 is available for macOS 10.11 and 10.12. Eagle-eyed readers might be wondering where the version for 10.13 (High Sierra) resides, as did we, but in the end we just decided to go with version 18. It appeared to work but we did get a few weird potentially buggy occurrences, as we’ll explain.

Installation involves choosing whether you want to take part in Kaspersky’s Security Network that, like many such tools, aims to feed malware samples and threats back to HQ should your Mac encounter them. Clicking to learn more about this opens a lengthy EULA-style document consisting of 3,266 words (yes, we counted) that explains exactly what info you’ll be sending. This appears to be a lot so, unsurprisingly, we decided to opt out.

Installation again involves adding a kernel module but the Kaspersky installer not only warned us about this but even caused a neat pop-up overlay to appear making it absolutely clear what we should click, and where. Very nice!

Scheduled scanning is possible but not activated by default. For that you’ll need to delve into the preferences dialog box. You can choose between scheduling a quick, full or custom scan.

Activating a full scan showed a progress indicator but this showed “1% Calculating” for a very long time. Clicking a little arrow to the left of this opened a larger dialog box showing the virus scanner working through each file, but even after 140,000 files had been scanned, the progress indicator only showed 1%. Clearly this was incorrect.

After around 190,000 files this jumped to 29%, and then increased slowly after this. The scan eventually completed after over an hour, which makes Kaspersky amongs the slowest we’ve reviewed for a full system scan.

The caveat that our tests are unscientific applies – we used a virtual machine as a testbed, which can introduce all kinds of random factors – but compare and contrast to the Norton full scan that took around 10 minutes to complete in the same test setup. As with most of the apps reviewed here you can download a 30-day free trial of Kaspersky, so you might want to run your own performance tests.

At the end of the scan a red bar claimed “3 threats found” although the actual scanning report reported deleting eight out of ten of our viruses, catching WeaponX, MineSteal, Renepo, Macarena, KoobFace, FileCoder, ClapZok, and BadBunny. It missed Inqtana. Weirdly, it did manage to catch Inqtana when we specifically asked it to scan the folder containing it. It also missed XcodeGhost but caught it when the DMG file was mounted.

If we extracted our virus test files from their encrypted archives, Kaspersky caught almost every one, with a notification appearing saying the virus had been deleted. However, it didn’t pick up on MineSteal this time and once again it missed Inqtana. Additionally, it didn’t delete the virus files the instant they appeared on the system. It only did once we opened the virus’ folder to take a look. Curious.

Even more weirdly, although the app interface and notifications reported deleting the viruses, when we looked at the Detected Objects log it appeared the viruses had actually been quarantined. They’re still out of harm’s way, we guess, but it’s not nice having this kind of confusion surrounding malicious and dangerous files.

OUR VERDICT

In summary, we’d be lying if we said the missed viruses when scanning and general app weirdness didn’t concern us. We just expected better. And that’s before we consider the very long time taken for the full scan. There are some potentially useful add-ons within the app, such as Safe Money that aims to protect online payments, but without the core antivirus tool being bulletproof it’s hard to make a recommendation.

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