Kaspersky Launches KIS 2014, Revamps Home Security Lineup

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Kaspersky on Tuesday announced the Windows PC edition of Kaspersky Internet Security (KIS) 2014, the first in a series of four new consumer security software products which will serve as linchpins for a revamped and consolidated product lineup. Users will be able to manage all four products through an upcoming cloud-enabled service to be known as Kaspersky Protection Center.

KIS for Macintosh will be launched later this week, and KIS for Android will follow this fall, said Peter Beardmore, Kaspersky’s senior director of product marketing, in a briefing for NotebookReview.

Kaspersky also plans to roll out a multi-device edition of KIS in September, during the same time frame as US availability of Kaspersky Protection Center. The multi-device edition will be designed to protect Windows PCs in addition to Macs and Android mobile devices. Kaspersky Protection Center will work only with the 2014 editions of Kaspersky’s software products. Kaspersky intends to expand the availability of the online service to other regions of the world in the future, he said.

Kaspersky Anti-Virus (KAV) 2014 Rolled Out, Too

Kaspersky has become a top contender in the home security space, competing against rivals like Norton and McAfee.

According to Beardmore, though, Kaspersky’s family of consumer software offerings had mushroomed over the years from just two titles to more than ten. “We decided to step back a bit,” he explained. “We wanted to create more order.”

KIS for PCs 2014 includes new and improved features in the areas of protection, performance and usability, the Kaspersky exec contended.

Also on Tuesday, Kaspersky rolled out Kaspersky Anti-Virus (KAV) 2014. Although KAV is sold as a separate product, it is also an integral component of KIS.

New Features: Zeta Shield, Anti-Blocker and Trusted Application Mode

KAV 2014 adds new Zeta Shield and Anti-Blocker technologies, Beardmore said. Through the Zeta Shield technology, KAV uses behavioral analysis in inspecting not just data objects but streams of data — such as those from streaming music and video services — for malware.

The metadata — or “data about the data” — is scanned for “code fragments characteristic of exploits built into legitimate files,” according to Beardmore. “We’re looking for zero-day exploits, in particular.” A zero-day exploit takes advantage of a security vulnerability on the same day that the vulnerability becomes generally known, so that there are zero days between the time it is discovered and the first attack. Kaspersky first introduced Zeta Shield in its business security software for Linux, Beardmore noted.

The Anti-Blocker technology, on the other hand, is aimed at protecting against pieces of malware dubbed “screen lockers,” which lock the screen and make the PC inaccessible, typically demanding a ransom for unlocking. (For expanded views of the screenshots at right, please click on the images.)

If a system is hit by a screen locker exploit, a user who has enabled Anti-Blocker can unlock the screen simply by repeatedly pressing the Ctrl+Alt+Del key, Beardmore said.

Also new in KAV 2014 is Trusted Application Mode, a technology designed to prevent unwanted applications from running on a PC.

Users choose the applications they want to allow, and KAV “white lists” them. Applications not on the list are unable to launch, he said.

Tweaks for Windows 8

In other key improvements, KAV’s Safe Money — for protecting against theft of personal information like credit card numbers — now gives users the ability to choose their own web browsers. Also, the number of shopping sites covered by Safe Money has been “significantly increased,” Beardmore said.

Kasperksy has also updated KAV’s user interface (UI) with improvements that include a main screen designed with Windows 8 touch screens in mind.

KAV 2014 introduces several new performance improvements, as well, according to the exec. Kaspersky has optimized the software for Windows 8 Connected Standby Mode, thereby “ensuring the battery drain is minimal while the PC is put to sleep,” Beardmore maintained. Also, in accordance with Microsoft guidelines, there is now no notification from Windows 8 about disabling KAV/KIS to produce a “high” startup load.

Reaction times for interacting with the software have been reduced to less than half a second, and “product impact on system performance will be less than previous versions,” he told NotebookReview.

KIS 2014 and KAV 2014 are both available immediately. Standard subscription pricing — three user licenses for a one-year period — is $79.95 for KIS and $59.95 for KAV.

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