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Kaspersky Internet Security 2009 review: Kaspersky Internet Security 2009

Kaspersky Internet Security 2009

Robert Vamosi
Robert Vamosi Former Editor

As CNET's former resident security expert, Robert Vamosi has been interviewed on the BBC, CNN, MSNBC, and other outlets to share his knowledge about the latest online threats and to offer advice on personal and corporate security.

6 min read

We were disappointed with Kaspersky Internet Security 2009. While there are significant improvements to the anti-malicious-software engine in Kaspersky Internet Security 2009--it is faster--we only saw evidence of that during the file scan test. In our application and boot tests, the numbers were actually worse than last year. This highlights our dilemma. The problem is not so much with malicious software detection (it does that very well), but with the execution of the overall program. Our installation process required a few too many reboots, and we also experienced more than the usual system glitches on our Windows XP test machines. The interface is a little clunky, and messages regarding updates and scans are very unclear. Some of the new features didn't seem to be fully developed. For a world-class software vendor, we expect better.


Kaspersky Internet Security 2009

The Good

Kaspersky Internet Security 2009 includes a fast malicious software engine, Secunia vulnerability database, and built-in system restore capabilities.

The Bad

Kaspersky Internet Security 2009 results messages were unclear, the installation could have been a lot smoother, it leaves behind registry file after uninstall, and it needs more security tools to justify the price.

The Bottom Line

Kaspersky Internet Security 2009 provides adequate protection, but the program itself could use some work in telling the user what's going on.

Kaspersky Internet Security 2009 requires Windows XP or Windows Vista. The price, which is about $20 higher than other Internet security suites, does include use on up to three PCs.

Our installation on a Windows XP test machine wasn't neat. First, Kaspersky Internet Security 2009 identified both ZoneAlarm and AVG 8.0 as potential conflicts that needed to be removed--however, only one was currently installed on our machine. Turns out, KIS 2009 read the registry files and found an old installation of AVG 8.0 that had been removed, but not completely uninstalled (that's why products need to be uninstalled completely). Kaspersky technical support, we were told, offers a tool--avg8.zip, which includes KLeaner.exe, that you can download from their site to remove old installations; however, installation of a security application should not be this complicated. Once we removed these, we needed to reboot and restart our installation.

Once the files were loaded, Windows XP asked us whether the Windows Firewall should block Kaspersky. Shouldn't KIS 2009 be accepted by Windows? When we tried to register with the product code--which we copy and pasted--we were unable to do so. We kept getting a message that only manually entered numbers and Latin characters would be accepted. Kaspersky representatives said the latter scenario should not have happened, but it did. Customers who order online will get a file that you can point to during installation. Then, once the program was installed, we had to reboot.

Two reboots of the computer and 20 minutes later, we were up and running. (Note: We also experienced boot lockup problems after our installation and configuration of both Kaskpersky Anti-Virus 2009 and in KIS 2009. We're willing to attribute this to early code, but even in November we continued to experience minor glitches.)

Should you decide to remove KIS 2009 from your system, there is an All Programs icon to Update, Modify, or Remove the program. However, after uninstalling the program, and rebooting the system, we found more than a few traces of Kaspersky within the system registry--the exact problem we experienced during the installation with residue from another antivirus product lurking within the registry. Representatives of Kaspersky blamed the Microsoft uninstaller for the residue, citing a similar problem with AVG Technologies AVG 8, but Kaspersky didn't offer an explanation why it doesn't provide its own uninstaller such as the one found with Check Point ZoneAlarm products.

The KIS 2009 interface didn't initially win us over. The first thing you'll notice is a scary red alert. That's good because you notice it; it's bad because usually it's flagging not a problem with your machine, but with the program itself. Click the Fix Now and, in most cases, you'll discover that you only need to download the latest updates. This is automated and probably halfway done by the time you realize it. The fact the system is self-updating is clear if you look to the left; there's a percentage indicator showing how the update is progressing.

Messaging for system scans is also confusing. After running a quick scan, we were simply taken back the scan screen, not a results page. Even if there were no results, we expected to see some indication that we had a clean system (most products show a blank results screen). Instead, it appeared as though we hadn't run the Quick Scan (which takes less than 1 minute). In fact, we had run the test several more times before we realized there is a report button. Many of the screens within KIS 2009 have hard-to-see buttons that will reveal details if asked. In this case, however, the button only displayed the times at which the scans ran with no real confirmation that our system was clean. Kaspersky representatives said they'd take our suggestions under review.

Like most Internet security suites today, KIS 2009 includes antivirus, antispyware, a personal firewall, antiphishing, antispam, and even antirootkit protection. The extras set it apart. Unfortunately, not all the extras feel fully baked.

KIS 2009, like KAV 2009, includes something called Post Infected System Restore. It's a wizard that helps restore a system to a previous state when a virus or malicious software has caused a problem. In the case where malicious code has deleted system files, KAV 2009 includes the capability to create a Rescue Disk. Of course, you need to do that advance, and KAV 2009 never prompted us to do so. Also to create a Windows XP rescue disk, you need a Windows XP SP2 disk, which some users (if they updated from Windows XP SP1) won't have. A Linux Rescue Disk for Windows XP and Vista can also be downloaded.

While we really like the idea, the execution of Kaspersky's new Security Analyzer needs more work. It's good that it checks with the Secunia database for the latest reported vulnerabilities and vendor updates. But it's bad that upon our first run our test system had 481 vulnerabilities. Bad because there is no one-stop shopping here--we needed to click on each alert individually. We also had to download the correct patch for our system, but which version of the vulnerable software are we running? It gets confusing and tedious even for someone relatively tech savvy. It would be good if the scanner also identified not only that you are running vulnerable software, but also which version of the software you are running. Sometimes fixing one removes others, but the current implementation leaves the process unclear.

KIS 2009 includes Parental Controls at a time when some vendors are still making this an optional download.

KIS 2009 also includes a virtual keyboard; however, security experts have for years warned that onscreen keyboards do not diminish the risks of keyloggers stealing your passwords. We're surprised to see this included within a serious security product.

Missing are the nearly instant or more frequent malware signature file updates available from Norton, Trend Micro, and McAfee this year. Kaspersky still sends out hourly updates.

In CNET Labs' performance tests, Kaspersky Internet Security 2009, in general, scored worse than last year. However, it managed to halve its individual file scan time. In third-party, independent antivirus testing using live viruses, Kaspersky Internet Security 2009 scored in the high upper ranks, although not always at the top position. On the CNET iTunes test, Kaspersky Internet Security 2009 came in dead last at 276 seconds; the test system was able to load iTunes in 268 seconds. On the CNET Microsoft Office test, Kaspersky Internet Security 2009 also finished dead last at 1,535 seconds. In a test scanning a single folder with compressed and media files, Kaspersky Internet Security 2009 had better results, 245 seconds, competitive with other security suites. Although in terms of boot speed, Kaspersky was among the slowest (34.84 seconds) when compared with other suites (McAfee only took 30 seconds)

To find out how we test antivirus software, see CNET Labs' How we test: Antivirus software page.

In terms of whether Kaspersky Internet Security 2009 will protect your PC, we cite results from two leading independent antivirus testing organizations. In results from AV-test.org Kaspersky Internet Security 2009 found 98 percent of the malware and 98 percent of the spyware on the test system. In the latest test results from earned an Advanced (second-highest) rating, although Kaspersky produced very few false positives compared with other antivirus applications in the same test.

Kaspersky Internet Security 2009 provides an excellent context-sensitive help file. For example, if you are on the Data Files page and you click Help, you're taken to the entry for Data Files entry within the help file. It's a small touch, but one we don't see often enough. Kaspersky also delivers an excellent online FAQ and knowledge base. There are also active user forums. Finally, you can e-mail or call a toll-free number for live technical support.

Kaspersky Internet Security 2009 includes some significant changes to its malicious software engine and new security tools. However, we think the interface and the messaging around the new security tools could be much better. And for the price, we like to see more security tools. We look forward to next year's release.


Kaspersky Internet Security 2009

Score Breakdown

Setup 6Features 7Performance 8Support 7
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