This review appears in the August issue of PC Advisor, available now in all good newsagents.

When it comes to the internet, you can never take security too seriously. Thankfully, Kaspersky Internet Security 6.0 – a suite of antivirus, firewall, antispyware, antispam and web-protection tools – is superb at detecting malware.

We looked at a pre-release build (a full version will be ready by the time you read this), and Kaspersky scored 100 percent in nearly all of our malware detection tests.

Malware testing

In tests conducted by German research firm AV-Test.org, Kaspersky caught all boot, file, macro and script malware on a subset of the January 2006 WildList, a public list of widespread threats. It caught all of AV-Test's collection of bots, Trojans and backdoors. When deprived of signature updates from January 2006 and later, it caught 76 percent of these backdoors, bots and Trojans, which suggests the suite is very good at detecting undiscovered threats.

The suite detected nearly all of AV-Test's samples of adware – software that produces often unwanted pop-up ads and can track your web-surfing habits. It also detected all malware samples within packed file archives (such as .zip). It looked within compressed program files such as ASPack and UPX and detected an excellent 83 percent of malware hidden inside – bad news for virus writers looking to wrap up old worms in new packaging.

Mistakes were few and far between. The program didn't clean up every single worm file, and a few clean files were incorrectly flagged as malware. Speed wasn't particularly impressive during the first system scan, although Kaspersky does learn from previous sessions, and gets faster every time you use it.

Kaspersky's firewall was solid, blocking all attacks from inside and outside our test PC. Oddly, the firewall settings aren't all in one place in the interface. Most options are in the Anti-Hacker Protection settings, but the ability to block specific ports resides in a separate area called Network settings. Indeed, the program in general is short on user-friendliness.

What's missing?

The application leaves out a few tools that come as standard on competing products. For example, it doesn't have parental controls for blocking websites at certain times of day, or privacy controls to prevent certain text-based data from leaving your PC. It also doesn't support individual IM (instant-messaging) clients.

It does, however, have important security features such as rootkit detection, as well as protection against downloading dangerous scripts while online. For example, the suite prevented us from downloading a piece of software from a site strongly associated with adware.

Awkward interface

The potential flaw with Kaspersky is that it's not a security suite for those who don't already feel confident around PC technology, and the user interface feels rather arcane. Rather than the standard antivirus, antispyware, and firewall-naming conventions used by other security software products, Kaspersky uses its own detailed naming scheme.

For example, it breaks down antivirus settings into File Anti-Virus, Mail Anti-Virus, and Web Anti-Virus. And, as mentioned below, firewall settings are labelled Anti-Hacker. This made it difficult to find certain standard settings, such as the ability to exclude file types for scans. We had to click on the Trusted Zone button within the Protection settings and manually add an object-based rule. Not as user-friendly as it could be.

Kaspersky Internet Security 6.0: Specs

  • 300MHz Pentium or Athlon processor
  • Windows 2000/Me/XP
  • 64MB RAM
  • 50MB hard disk space
  • internet connection (for product activation)
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.5 or higher (for product and antivirus database updates via the internet)
  • 300MHz Pentium or Athlon processor
  • Windows 2000/Me/XP
  • 64MB RAM
  • 50MB hard disk space
  • internet connection (for product activation)
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.5 or higher (for product and antivirus database updates via the internet)

OUR VERDICT

The latest version of Kaspersky's Internet Security suite is extremely effective, but its interface is not for the inexperienced. Neither is it the cheapest of programs, although if you download it from Kaspersky's website, £40 for a one-year copy works out as reasonable value. Newcomers should stay away, though.

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