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Kaspersky Internet Security 2009

Preston Gralla | Aug. 12, 2008
If cleaner design and easy-to-use security wizards are what you're after, Kaspersky is the one to choose.

Of course, speed and flexibility is one thing; effectiveness is another. Here again, Kaspersky does a very credible job. According to AV-Comparatives.org, an independent malware-testing site that measures the antivirus portion of the suite, Kaspersky's newest release measures up well. The site tested a beta version and gave it an "Advanced" certification, and also noted that it had a very low rate of false positives.

Keep in mind, though, that "Advanced" is not the highest level of certification. The highest level is Advanced+, a rating given to very few programs, including NOD32 Anti-Virus and AntiVir PE Premium. By way of comparison: McAfee received an Advanced, and Norton a Standard.

An unobtrusive firewall

The second most important module of a security suite is a firewall, and again, Kaspersky's measures up. The firewall is so unobtrusive that you might not even notice it's there. Unlike many other firewalls, it doesn't require extensive training. There is a set of rules built in that either allows or blocks a particular application from accessing the Internet. These rules also determine which network resources can be accessed. So you won't be bothered by pop-ups or training time, although the suite does inform you when it allows or disallows a new application.

You can set different levels of firewall protection and can also extensively fine-tune the rules, setting not just which programs can and can't access your machine and the Internet, but also to block or allow various network services, among other settings. But most likely you won't need to do this; the default works fine.

A key component of the suite is its application-filtering module, which determines how trustworthy each piece of software is on your PC. It does this using several different methods, including by examining a signature database, and by testing applications in a secure environment it sets up on your PC. It also uses heuristic analysis and assigns a security rating to each application.

Based on its rating for applications, they may be blocked or allowed to run, or only allowed to take certain actions. This applies to other components of the suite as well -- for example, the firewall may not allow an application to access the Internet based on the rating.

Many other components are essentially invisible to you as they go about their work, although you can also customize them. For example, Kaspersky's Proactive Defense feature detects keyloggers, stops hidden drivers from being installed, and halts other potentially dangerous activities. There's also an Intrusion Prevention System, among a variety of other protection tools.

Kaspersky is packed with lots of wizards and extras, such as a Security Analyzer wizard, which scans your system for vulnerable applications and holes. If it finds any security vulnerabilities, lists how critical the problem is (such as "Very dangerous"), and includes a link to a description of the vulnerability and a fix if one is available. On my test machine, it found nine vulnerabilities, all having to do with software whose older versions had holes. Patching each of the apps using the link provided solved the problem.

 

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