Editors’ Note: We are aware of the allegations of Kaspersky Labs’ inappropriate ties to the Russian government. Until we see some actual proof of these allegations, we will treat them as unproven, and continue to recommend Kaspersky’s security products as long as their performance continues to merit our endorsement.
Most modern security companies offer protection at three levels: a basic antivirus, an entry-level security suite, and a mega-suite with additional features. However, that model isn’t universal. McAfee Total Protection and McAfee LiveSafe both occupy the mega-suite tier. Panda has two distinct product lines, topping out at Panda Protection Complete and Panda Gold Protection. Kaspersky Security Cloud offers everything you get with mega-suite Kaspersky Total Protection, plus some additional features and platform-specific improvements the company calls Adaptive Security. If you have a boatload of devices, it’s a very good deal.
This product comes in two editions, Personal and Family. Pricing for the Personal edition is the same as for Kaspersky Total Security, $89.99 per year for three licenses or $99.99 for five. You pay $149.99 per year for the Family edition, but that lets you install protection on up to 20 devices, compared with 10 for Total Security. You can also define as many as 19 other My Kaspersky accounts, with some limitations. Only the master account can manage the parental control component, for one. While there’s no limit on installations of the password manager, you can only have five distinct user accounts.
Prices for this kind of cross-platform multidevice suite vary wildly. You get unlimited McAfee licenses for $99.99 per year, and unlimited Panda Protection Complete licenses for $74.99 per year. Symantec Norton Security Premium is a bit more expensive than Kaspersky on a per-license basis, charging $109.99 for 10 licenses. And Panda Gold Protection takes the high-price prize, listing at $149.99 per year for just three licenses. (Yes, Panda has products at both price extremes). Note that these are all list prices, and all are frequently discounted.
If you just want antivirus for all your devices, you might consider Kaspersky Security Cloud Free. This is, in effect, a cross-platform version of Kaspersky Free, with few frills. It does include a bandwidth-limited version of Kaspersky’s VPN, and the free edition of the company’s password manager.
Kaspersky Security Cloud runs on Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS. You get a security app (on all but iOS), a virtual private network, or VPN, a password manager, and a parental control system. To start the ball rolling, you create or log into a My Kaspersky account online, enter your registration code, and download the appropriate package for your operating system. To extend protection to another device, you can either log in from it or send an email with a link to the installer.
Many of the features require separate installation, varying by platform. And for most of these separate installations you must log into your My Kaspersky account to activate each one’s protection. You install Kaspersky Security Cloud, Kaspersky Password Manager, and Kaspersky Safe Kids on all four platforms, and separately add Kaspersky Internet Security on Android. There’s also a separate QR code reader app for Android and iOS, and a battery monitor for Android. I lost count of the number of separate installations, but there were plenty.
Kaspersky could do a lot to make this process more, well, adaptive. How about baking the login credentials into the installer? That would work on Windows and macOS, at least. Better, create a single installer for all the apps on a given platform, with an option to check off the ones you want, and just one login to My Kaspersky. While it’s billed as a suite, Kaspersky Security Cloud still behaves like a committee of separate programs.
Overall, Kaspersky Security Cloud is more a service for managing your security than a security product itself. However, the current edition offers some unique features not found in other Kaspersky products. My Kaspersky contact stated that the company expects most Kaspersky Total Security users to move to Kaspersky Security Cloud going forward.
My Kaspersky Dashboard
As noted earlier, you log in to the My Kaspersky dashboard to install Kaspersky Security Cloud on additional pieces of hardware. The Devices tab lists every single piece of hardware associated with your My Kaspersky account, along with the Kaspersky apps installed on each. If you haven’t installed all available apps for a given computer, phone, or tablet, it displays an Add Application button.
The Licenses tab displays details about your Kaspersky Security Cloud license, as well as licenses for any other Kaspersky products you may have installed. If you opted for the family edition, clicking Share Protection lets you set up a family member with a secondary My Kaspersky account. The app explains that sharing will not give away access to your account, bank cards, or private data. You can list any number of family members, up to your maximum of 20 licenses and 20 devices. Once the recipients install Kaspersky Security Cloud, their hardware shows up in your dashboard.
From the My Kaspersky dashboard, you can do more than just manage your devices and licenses. You can log in to your password manager data from any browser for full access to passwords, personal data, and secure notes. From the Kids page you can locate your children, view reports on their recent activity, and adjust the configuration of the parental control system. You can do many of the same parental control tasks using the app on your smartphone in parent mode.
You get 200MB of VPN bandwidth per PC, phone, or tablet per day. That’s not much. Stream a bunch of YouTube videos and you’ve exhausted it. The Secure Connection page in the dashboard lets you check how much you’ve used, either overall or on a per-device basis. If you yearn to watch one more chapter, and you want VPN protection while you do it, this page helps you figure out which devices have bandwidth available.
My Kaspersky isn’t new, nor is its ability to manage security on multiple platforms. But with Kaspersky Security Cloud, the online dashboard becomes the star of the show.
Protection for Windows
When you install this product on a Windows box, you get protection equivalent to Kaspersky Total Security, with a slightly different appearance and a few additional features. For more information, you can read my review of Total Security; I’ll offer a brief summary here.
Kaspersky Total Security’s main window features a security status banner at the top, with eight large icons below: Scan, Database Update, Safe Money, Password Manager, Privacy Protection, Backup and Restore, Parental Control, and My Kaspersky. Kaspersky Security Cloud is almost the same, but the icon lineup differs: Scan, Database Update, Protection for kids, Password Manager, Privacy Protection, Safe Money, My Kaspersky, and Secure Connection. Security Cloud includes all the same features; the only difference is in which features appear on the main window.
Kaspersky earned perfect scores in the latest releases of every independent lab test I follow. Bitdefender Total Security came awfully close, with all but one perfect score.
Kaspersky didn’t do quite as well in my own hands-on tests, but when results differ, I defer to the labs. It earned an unprecedented 100 percent detection rate in my antiphishing test, however, edging out Bitdefender, which had been tops with 99 percent. Trend Micro Maximum Security was a close third, at 98 percent.
The suite includes a powerful firewall that makes its own decisions about network permissions for programs at varying trust levels. Parental control comes from the excellent Kaspersky Safe Kids, which requires a separate installation. The content filter can block unwanted content, or just warn the child to stay away, and its ability to set time limits or time schedules for usage is unusually flexible. It can monitor social media, block or time-limit certain apps, locate your children via their mobile devices, and more. This full-featured parental control tool also offers extensive parental alerts and detailed reporting.
You also get the unexceptional Kaspersky Password Manager, which sells separately for $14.99 per year. This utility, which also requires a separate installation, handles the basics of password management, no more. You won’t find advanced features like two-factor authentication, secure sharing, or password inheritance.
Like ESET Multi-Device Security Pack, Bitdefender, and others, Kaspersky can create encrypted virtual drives to store your sensitive files. Cleverly, it automates the process of securely deleting the unprotected originals, thereby foiling any attempt at forensic recovery of sensitive files.
The suite includes Kaspersky Secure Connection VPN, but what you get is the bandwidth-limited free edition. This version allows up to 200MB of VPN network traffic per device per day, and doesn’t give you a choice of servers. If you need more bandwidth or want your choice of servers, you pay an additional $4.99 per month.
Webcam protection keeps untrusted apps from peeking at you. The software updater finds and applies missing security patches. For those who need it, Kaspersky filters out spam. A virtual keyboard foils even hardware keyloggers. And the backup feature lets you archive files locally or in your Dropbox account. This suite is bursting with features.
Home Network Scan
Do you have a clue how many devices connect to your Wi-Fi network? Sure, you know about the computers, and tablets, and smartphones. But what about those Internet of Things devices, things like smart doorbells, smartphone-controlled garage doors, and washing machines that text you when a load has finished? Kaspersky Security Cloud can help in a way that Kaspersky Total Security doesn’t.
From a Windows, macOS, or Android device, Kaspersky can scan your Wi-Fi network and report on exactly what’s connected. When possible, it displays the name and device type. You can click an item to see its IP address, MAC address, and (when available) manufacturer. If those clues help you identify a mystery device, you can edit the entry to give it a friendly name, and choose a device type. The list also adds a shield icon overlay to devices that have Kaspersky protection installed.
Once you’ve done the initial scan, Kaspersky notifies you any time it detects a new device connecting to your Wi-Fi. You can’t block unwanted intruders the way you can with the similar feature in Panda Antivirus Pro, but you’ll at least know about the incursion. If necessary, you can change your Wi-Fi password.
As with Panda, this feature only works on Wi-Fi networks. That makes sense. An intruder isn’t likely to walk up and plug in an Ethernet cable. Despite the name, the Wi-Fi Inspector in Avast Free Antivirus scans both wired and wireless networks. Its purpose isn’t to detect intruders, but to identify devices that have security risks.
New in this edition, and not present in Kaspersky Total Security, Kaspersky Security Cloud checks whether any of your email accounts turned up in the data dump from a security breach. This feature appears on all four platforms. It checks the email address associated with your My Kaspersky account against the haveibeenpwned.com databases every 24 hours. You can also manually enter any email account for a checkup.
If the check turns up anything bad, you get plenty of detail. It lists websites that may have leaked your data, the date of the suspected leak, and the categories of data that may be compromised. It also suggests actions you can take to mitigate the damage.
Hard Drive Health Monitor
Also new in this edition and specific to Kaspersky Security Cloud is a health monitor for the hard drives in your Windows and macOS devices. This feature relies on the S.M.A.R.T. (Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology) feature found in modern drives.
You can launch this feature at any time to view the status of your hard drives. Select a drive from the list at left and you get two main status indicators, overall drive condition and drive temperature. It also lists the number of hours the drive has been powered on, and the number of power cycles. Techies can dig in for detailed statistics, but in truth, you don’t need to look at all. If there’s a problem, Kaspersky will let you know. It even offers to copy data from this drive to other media when the disk is going south.
Many security vendors offer simple antivirus protection for macOS. Kaspersky is among the few that give Mac users a security suite, albeit not one that’s as comprehensive as the Windows suite. And it costs no more than many standalone antivirus utilities. You can check my review of Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac for a deep dive into this utility’s features. Installed on a Mac, Kaspersky Security Cloud includes all the same features plus the new account check and hard disk health components. It also scans your home network
Only two of the labs I follow test macOS antivirus tools. Both certified Kaspersky for Mac antivirus protection, with the best possible detection scores (though it did lose a half-point for a minor impact on performance). Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac also took the best possible scores and received both certifications.
I don’t have the resources to do hands-on antivirus testing on the macOS platform, but I do test protection against phishing. Phishing websites are platform-agnostic; they can fool you into giving away your login credentials no matter what browser or operating system you use. Kaspersky’s macOS product did well in this test, but couldn’t match the perfect score earned by its Windows edition.
The full antivirus scan finished faster than most. Kaspersky also scans files on access, but doesn’t bother with scheduled scans. It now runs a full scan at installation, which is good. After that, the real-time scan should take care of any problems.
While it is more than just antivirus, the macOS version doesn’t have all the features that you get under Windows. It does include the VPN, a version of Safe Money, a simpler webcam blocker, and a virtual keyboard. The Network Attack Blocker performs some of a firewall’s functions. A URL advisor warns you away from dangerous links. And you can enable the active Do Not Track feature to hide your habits from tracking ads and other trackers.
Protection for Android
The Kaspersky Security Cloud Android app shows more signs of the promised adaptive security than the desktop editions do. Its single scrolling window starts with a section that offers advice on improving security. It checks that all the components are installed, and warns if your Wi-Fi connection is insecure. If it finds dangerous settings such as USB Debugging or Password Visibility enabled, it explains how to correct the problem. Scrolling down reveals large panels that report the status of each component; tapping a panel installs or opens the corresponding component.
New in this edition, Kaspersky helps you optimize storage on your Android. It lists apps you rarely (or never) use, and offers to uninstall them. Unlike the Unused Data Cleaner in the Windows edition, it focuses on apps, not data files.
Also new is a built-in battery life warning. By default, you get a warning when you’re down to two hours of battery life, or if the battery is being drained quickly. The main menu also offers a link to install Kaspersky Battery Life: Saver and Booster. This separately installed app monitors the Android device’s power consumption and warns the user if it becomes critically low. You can use it to view current charge status, and to terminate apps that are uselessly running in the background. You can also install Kaspersky’s QR code scanner, if you don’t have one.
Unlike on Windows and macOS, the main Android app does not itself provide antivirus or other direct security features. Rather, it advises you to install Kaspersky Internet Security, which supports Windows and Mac as well as Android. You also install Safe Kids, Secure Connection, and the password manager separately. I did say that all those installs add up!
I described Kaspersky Internet Security for Android at length in my review of Kaspersky Internet Security. That’s where you can go if you want a complete Android security app. It offers on-demand antivirus scanning and real-time protection. With the anti-theft feature you can locate, lock, or wipe a lost phone or tablet as well as finding a misplaced one by having it sound a loud alarm. You can also snap mug shots of a device thief. A PIN lock for selected apps protects against the possibility that someone might pick up and use your phone while it’s unlocked. Other features include website rating in Chrome, text anti-phishing, and a call- and text-filtering system that doesn’t work in the latest versions of Android.
On Android, Kaspersky Safe Kids differs somewhat from the version that runs on Windows or macOS. It does offer content filtering and social media monitoring. Parents can use the app in parent mode to check reports and configure most settings. Naturally, you can use the app to track your child’s location. You can also set timed geofences, so, for example, you get notification if your child leaves school during school hours. Please read our review of this product for full details.
Kaspersky Protection for iOS
The Kaspersky Security Cloud iOS app is a single scrolling window, just like the Android one. You don’t have as many extras to install, just Safe Kids, Secure Connection, and the password manager. Like many security companies, Kaspersky doesn’t bother with antivirus for iOS.
The VPN and password manager work just as they do on other platforms. However, Kaspersky Safe Kids on the iPhone is tuned very closely to the requirements of iOS.
A surprising number of iOS parental control apps are toothless, easily uninstalled by a clever child. Safe Kids, by contrast, protects itself against removal. It offers the same geofencing, content filtering, and flexible time scheduling as on other platforms. However, it can’t block use of the device when time is up, or during times the schedule doesn’t allow use, due to iOS limitations. It can only display a warning and notify parents.
Protect All Your Devices
If you use all 20 of your family plan licenses, Kaspersky Security Cloud costs about $7.50 per license, which is quite a good deal. The list price for Kaspersky Total Security is twice as much per device. In our reviews, many of Kaspersky Security Cloud’s component parts rate four stars or better. Getting all of the separate components installed can take quite a while, but that’s something you only have to do once. And the current edition adds useful features, including hard drive health monitoring and a check for compromised accounts.
Kaspersky’s core antivirus protection aced all the latest lab tests, and earned a perfect 100 percent in our antiphishing test. It offers serious security protection on Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS. Kaspersky Security Cloud joins Symantec Norton Security Premium as an Editor’s Choice for cross-platform multi-device security suites.