From its interface to its granular customization options, Kaspersky Mobile Security 9 provides the kind of experience we've come to expect from one of the company's PC offerings. But like its desktop software, Mobile Security 9 also has its share of shortcomings. Still, at $9.95, Mobile Security 9 is easily the least expensive premium security suite we've seen. So how does this wallet-friendly mobile app fare against the competition?
Setup & Interface
Mobile Security 9's installation process is a bit more involved than most other apps in its class. After downloading the software to our Droid Bionic, Mobile Security asked us to create a secret code when we launched the app for the first time. This is used to prevent unauthorized access, meaning you'll have to input it every time you open the app. You'll also have to provide a valid email address, to which Kaspersky can send you your secret code in the event that you forget it.
Mobile Security 9's interface clearly takes cues from Kaspersky's desktop offerings, with the same hunter green color scheme and tabbed menu view. The homescreen lists the app's six features, including Anti-Virus, Privacy Protection, Anti-Theft, Call & SMS Filter and Additional settings. Tap any of the tabs to reveal a subset of additional options. For instance, Anti-Virus expands to give users access to the system scanner and protection settings.
Unlike many of its competitors, Mobile Security offers users a host of options and customization settings that allow you to control virtually every aspect of the app, ranging from how it reacts to receiving phone calls to what happens when a different SIM card is inserted in your device.
Detection & Performance
Like its desktop cousin, Kaspersky Mobile Security 9 provides users with a bevy of malware scanning options. While most other mobile antivirus solutions will only let you choose when your device is scanned, Mobile Security 9 lets you decide how deep the scan goes, the types of files that will be scanned and what the app does when it finds malware. A full system scan of our Bionic took 7 minutes and 55 seconds to complete.
When Mobile Security 9 detects a piece of malicious software, it launches a notification window telling you what type of threat has been found and presents the option to delete the threat, skip it or ask Mobile Security for help.
When we downloaded the EICAR security test, Mobile Security 9 picked it up immediately, causing a warning to pop up on screen. As with Lookout Mobile Security, Kaspersky provides a brief description of each type of malware it detects, but they aren't nearly as comprehensive as the ones provided by Lookout.
Mobile Security 9's overall impact on our Bionic's system performance was negligible. Without the app installed, our Bionic scored an average 53.3 on the Linpack multi-core CPU benchmark test. With Mobile Security 9 installed, the Bionic averaged a score of 53.2. When we ran the Linpack test with Mobile Security 9's system scan running, the Bionic's score actually increased to 55.1, just below McAfee's score of 57.3.
Data & Privacy Detection
Kaspersky's offering includes a host of privacy and identity protection features. From the Privacy Protection tab, users can choose to completely hide their contacts' numbers, incoming text messages and text message logs, and incoming calls and call logs. Activate each of these options and a contact will essentially disappear from your device until you disable the appropriate setting.
You can also set an idle timer for when Mobile Security 9 should activate the hide setting. In other words, when your device is idle, the app will begin a countdown that, once it hits zero, will hide all of your contacts' information. Contact information can also be hidden by sending your device a command via a configurable text message.
Users can also set up a white list of contacts that can call and text their devices, blocking all numbers not listed. Mobile Security 9 also lets you create a black list, which blocks calls and text messages sent from a customizable list of contacts.
Kaspersky Mobile Security 9 includes a robust collection of anti-theft features that can be activated via text message. If a user's device is stolen, he can lock it remotely, which also displays a message on the phone telling the person who has your handset to return it to the owner.
The Data Wipe command lets you remotely wipe all of your personal information from your device, and the GPS Find feature allows you to remotely locate your device. After texting your lost phone, you'll receive a text message with a Google Maps link giving you the device's location. Unfortunately, when we tried the feature, we only received latitude and longitude coordinates that we had to look up online.
Kaspersky Mobile Security 9 also includes SIM Watch, which automatically contacts you via email or text (sent to a different phone), in the event that the SIM card in your phone is switched. SIM Watch can also be set to completely lock your device if the SIM card is replaced or removed. Additionally, the app will display an editable message on your handset's screen, telling whomever removed the SIM that the device is locked and should be returned to its owner.
Our biggest gripe with Mobile Security 9 is that it was far too easy to uninstall. Even after setting up a secret pin, we were able to completely remove the app from our device without issue from the Application menu. If a tech-savvy thief manages to snatch your device, all the time you spent configuring the app will go out the window once they uninstall the app.
We also wish Kaspersky offered some kind of Web-based interface from which we could control the app's GPS Find, SIM Watch and other anti-theft features. Also, it lacks the backup capabilities of Lookout Mobile Security and McAfee Mobile Security.
Premium vs. Trial Version
Kaspersky Mobile Security 9 is available in both free and premium editions. The premium edition, which will cost you $9.95 for a one-year subscription, comes complete with all of the aforementioned features. If that's too steep, you can always opt for the Mobile Security Lite, which doesn't include anti-virus, privacy protection, or advanced anti-theft and advanced call and SMS filters. You'll also miss out on the premium version's SIM Watch, GPS Find and Wipe features.
Kaspersky does an excellent job of bringing the functionality of its full-blown security suite to mobile devices, all for $10 per year. From its fully customizable virus scanner to its data protection features, Mobile Security 9 is more than capable of keeping your data secure. We just wish it could back up our files and had a Web interface. While it's $20 more expensive, McAfee Mobile Security offers both of those features. Still, if you're looking for strong antivirus and data protection, Mobile Security 9 may be right for you.