Windows Defender is getting better, but it’s still not the ideal way to secure your computer. If you insist on top-notch protection for your PC, but your budget is already stretched to its limit, Kaspersky Lab, maker of some of the best antivirus software, may be able to help.
Kaspersky Free provides the company’s award-winning antivirus service without the hefty price tag, and it’s becoming available all around the world.
Information comes from the blog at Kaspersky Labs (opens in new tab), a Moscow-based security firm that routinely tops the charts in a variety of AV evaluations. To be clear, Kaspersky Free will not replace the company’s traditional paid service, which costs about $50 per year, depending on your bells and whistles.
Unlike Kaspersky’s paid suite, which provides parental controls, online payment protection and a VPN, Kaspersky Free just keeps your computer free from malicious software — but that’s not a bad deal, for the price. It promises to be among the best free antivirus software. (Kaspersky also makes some of the best Mac antivirus software and one of the best Android antivirus apps.)
The program isn’t available yet, but Kaspersky Labs explained that the software will roll out in waves, all over the world, starting on July 25. The United States, Canada and the Asia-Pacific region will get Kaspersky Free over the summer, followed by South Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America in September; Europe, Japan and South Korea in October; and Vietnam and Thailand in November.
The program’s functionality sounds basic, but not quite bare-bones. Kaspersky Free will scan incoming files for threats, and keep tabs on your Web browsing to prevent malicious sites from hijacking your browser, chat or e-mail. The company has promised the same quality of protection for free and paid users.
One might wonder where the catch comes in. After all, “If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product,” as the old saying goes. The truism does indeed apply here. Kaspersky Lab will use the increased number of installations to improve its algorithms which, in turn, will help to protect more users in the future.
“An increase in the number of installations of Kaspersky Free will positively affect the quality of protection of all users, since the big-data-bases will have more numbers to work with to better hone the machine learning,” the blog post reads. Yes, Kaspersky Labs will be gathering (anonymized) data from your machine, but that’s better than cybercriminals doing the same thing.
[Editor's Note, Sept. 11, 2017: Best Buy has removed Kaspersky Lab products from its shelves, citing concerns regarding Kaspersky's alleged (but as yet undocumented) ties to the Russian government. However, until we see evidence that Kaspersky software is a threat to consumers, we will continue to recommend it. Here is further clarification of our position.]