May 28, 2024


Sapiens Digital

K7 Ultimate Security Gold 15 – Review 2020

What components go into a security suite? Antivirus protection is a must, and you typically find such tools as firewall, spam filtering, and parental control in an entry-level suite. Most security companies expand their product line with a higher-level suite that adds things like backup, password management, or VPN protection. K7 Ultimate Security occupies that mega-suite level in the K7 pantheon, with a plentiful collection of features and security on multiple platforms. However, the effectiveness of these features ranges from very good to very bad. Its three-star rating is an average of those highs and lows.

K7’s antivirus and entry-level suite come in one-, three-, and five-license subscription packages. K7 Ultimate Security just comes as a five-pack, for $149.99 per year. That’s relatively expensive. The same price gets you not five but 20 licenses for Kaspersky Security Cloud. You pay $99.99 per year for Norton 360 Deluxe, which gets you five security suite licenses, five no-limits VPN licenses, and 50GB of hosted storage for your online backups. McAfee Total Protection falls in between, at $119.99, but that gets you unlimited licenses to install McAfee on every Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS device in your household.

As with K7’s entry-level suite, installation of this product is quick and easy. Once you’ve updated its antivirus definitions, you’re ready to go. As with K7’s antivirus and entry-level suite, the main window displays simple stats: the most recent update, the virus definition version, and the remaining days in your subscription. Clicking icons along the bottom or menu choices along the top slides other pages into view, from various directions. Do take care to explore all the pages, lest you miss some of the suite’s many features.

K7 Ultimate Security Main Window

Read Me First

On Windows, this suite is identical to K7 Total Security, with a few additions and feature enhancements. That being the case, I’ll refer you to my review of the entry-level suite for background. Once you’ve read that, come back here to learn about what the Ultimate edition adds.

Very briefly, K7 Total Security’s core is an antivirus that gets good scores from the independent labs that test it. It achieved great success in our malicious URL blocking test, but didn’t do well at all at detecting phishing frauds. Other components include firewall and spam filtering that are fine but not outstanding, a limited parental control system, and a collection of bonus tools that range from useful to pointless.

Enhanced Parental Control

The entry-level suite offers parental control with the ability to schedule each child’s access to the internet and to either block access to a blacklist of websites or block access to all sites except those that are whitelisted. The parent is responsible for creating these lists, which means that the content filter component in the entry-level suite is effectively useless.

Upgrading to Ultimate kicks the parental control system up a notch, into the not-useless realm. With this edition, parents can choose to block sites matching any of more than 60 categories, arranged into seven areas: Adult, Internet Security, Search / Communications, Network Bandwidth, Business / Finance, Lifestyle, and General / Others.

There’s no age-based profile system—parents must pick the areas or categories they want to block. Unlike the blacklist and whitelist systems, these settings apply to each child separately, with no provision to copy your selections from one child to another.

K7 Ultimate Security Parental Categories

For testing purposes, I chose to block everything in the Adult and Internet Security areas. K7 blocked almost all the adult sites I tried, including HTTPS pages that trip up some less capable content filters. With some searching, I found a secure anonymizing proxy that the Internet Security category didn’t block. However, K7 filtered out adult sites even with access routed through the proxy.

The addition of effective category-based content filtering brings K7’s parental control up to the bare minimum. Even so, if you require parental control as a component of your security suite, you’ll do better choosing a suite with a full-featured parental control system, such as Kaspersky Security Cloud or Norton.

Clicking the Tools icon from the main menu brings up a page of bonus tools, most of which are shared with the entry-level suite. Some are useful, like a secure deletion utility, a virtual keyboard to foil keyloggers, and a system to vaccinate USB drives against infection. Others bring little value, like the disk defragmenter and temp file cleaners. The Ultimate edition adds a Registry cleaner and a browser cleanup tool.

The Registry cleaner scans specified areas of the Registry for useless and erroneous items. In testing, the scan went quickly and displayed a summary of its findings. The detail page made it clear that the five dozen found problems all involved invalid file entries—Registry values pointing to non-existent files. Tech experts can choose to clean up selected items, but for most users the Repair All option is appropriate. In testing the repair process was near-instantaneous.

K7’s tool collection already includes a cleaner for internet temp files and one devoted to clearing Internet Explorer’s history. The Browser Cleaner has a completely different purpose. To start using it, you run a quick scan that lists all your browsers and their installed extensions.

Well, not quite all your browsers. My test system has Chrome, Edge, Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Opera present. K7 listed only Chrome and IE. It reported its own Web Protection extension present in Chrome, but not in IE. And it offered to reset “all browsers” to remove “extensions, toolbars, or hijacked searches.” When I chose the reset option, K7 removed its own extension from Chrome, but not from IE. I don’t see much value in this tool.

Simple, Local Backup

While automatic backup is nominally enabled out of the box, K7’s backup component doesn’t actually do anything until you perform its initial setup. You start by choosing what to include in the backup set. By default, it backs up all files in the Documents folder. You can add other folders or files, limit the file types to back up, and set specific exclusions. Awkwardly, your choice of file types applies across all folders. You can’t choose to, say, back up just Office documents in one folder and just pictures in another.

K7 doesn’t make hosted storage for backups available, so your choices for backup destination are limited to local drives and removable drives. Backup to removable media is necessarily a manual operation, as you sit there feeding in discs as needed. If the destination is a regular disk drive, you can schedule daily or weekly backups, or set K7 to back up automatically during idle time. Name the backup set, optionally define a password, and you’re done.

K7 Ultimate Security Backup

Restoring files from backup is equally simple. Choose the files you want using the handy search box, or just restore all files. Restore to the original location or pick a new location. That’s it.

Even though it costs less than K7 for five licenses, Norton 360 Deluxe gives you 50GB of hosted online storage for your backups. More expensive Norton suites include LifeLock protection along with as much as 500GB of storage. If a meteor takes out your office, computers, and all, you’ll still have those cloud backups with Norton. Not so with K7.

There’s nothing fancy about this backup system. Your backups are all local. It doesn’t keep multiple versions of backed-up files. But if having a backup helps you recover from a ransomware attack, you’ll be glad you enabled it.

Other Platforms

It’s not at all obvious, but you can use your K7 Ultimate Security licenses to install K7 protection on devices running macOS, Android, or iOS. Just install the software and use your license key to activate.

K7 AntiVirus for Mac

K7 installed quickly on my test Mac and updated its antivirus definitions right away. It scans files on access, on demand, or on schedule, and it wipes out both macOS and Windows malware. Windows-focused malware naturally won’t run on a Mac, but clearing it out eliminates the possibility that your Mac might act as a carrier.

K7 Ultimate Security on macOS

Pricing for the Mac edition as a standalone parallels that of K7 Antivirus Premium, but slightly higher. You pay $29.99 per year for a single license, $59.99 for a three-license subscription, and $89.99 for five. The corresponding prices for the Windows edition are $24.99, $49.99, and $69.99.

Despite costing less, the Windows edition does much, much more. Among its many features are a basic firewall, effective ransomware protection, USB vaccination, and a control system for devices such as USB drives. On the Mac, you get antivirus protection, no more, no less.

K7 Mobile Security for Android

To get started with protection for your Android device, you first install the free, feature-limited edition of K7 Mobile Security. Tapping for a non-free feature like anti-theft brings up a screen that invites you to purchase the premium edition, or enter your details if you’ve already purchased it. Using the later, you can activate premium features using your K7 Ultimate Security li

K7 offers the expected malware protection, scanning programs on access and scanning contents of the device’s storage. By default, it schedules a weekly full scan, but you can tweak this to daily or monthly, or disable scheduled scanning.

For mobile devices, loss or theft is as much or more of a danger than malware infestation. K7 offers a full-scale anti-theft and tracking system. You can remotely locate, lock, or wipe your phone, as expected. If you’ve just mislaid it around the house, a remote-triggered alarm helps you find it. It doesn’t automatically snap pictures of a device thief the way Bitdefender Total Security, McAfee AntiVirus Plus, and Kaspersky Security Cloud do, but you can call for a photo op remotely.

K7 Ultimate Security Android Tracking

The Android device I use for testing isn’t provisioned for cellular connectivity, so I couldn’t test the Call Blocking feature. It looks simple enough. You add unwanted phone numbers to a list, and it blocks calls from those numbers.

The Web Protection feature aims to keep your browsers and other apps away from malware-hosting sites, and from phishing frauds. On Windows this achieved excellent protection against malware-hosting URLs, but scored poorly against phishing sites. I didn’t test it separately on Android.

The Application Audit that lists apps with possibly dangerous permissions: tracking your location, accessing your text messages, and monitoring calls. From the list of apps you can tap for detailed info such as CPU and memory usage, and data sent and received using Wi-Fi or cellular connections.

K7 Ultimate Security Android Montage

A simple backup and restore for contacts and a Wi-Fi security checker round out the features of this straightforward Android security app. Before you consider expending one of your K7 Ultimate licenses, consider that the Android app as a standalone costs just $6.99 per year. On a per-device basis, a K7 Ultimate license costs just short of $30.

K7 Mobile Security for iOS

Installed on my test iPad, K7 had the same general appearance as on Android. Both open to a dashboard with four large square buttons, and both have a three-line menu at top left. The Android app also includes a Scan Device button, absent in the iOS edition, which doesn’t include malware protection.

In fact, the four main features on iOS are quite different from those on Android. They are: SafeBrowser, CheckUrl, Privacy, and DeviceTracker.

DeviceTracker is a very limited version of the anti-theft system for Android. From the remote tracking console you can check the device’s location, and you can sound a noisy alarm. However, you can’t lock or wipe it. To be fair, this is true of virtually every iOS-based mobile security system.

K7 Ultimate Security iOS Montage

SafeBrowser is a proprietary browser built into the app. When you use this browser, K7 applies its full web protection, steering you away from malicious and fraudulent URLs. The CheckURL function just checks the safety of a web address you type. I don’t know why you wouldn’t just use the SafeBrowser.

When you tap Privacy, it asks you to log into Facebook, after which it reports your account’s privacy configuration. There’s a link to Facebook’s own recommended settings, but K7 itself doesn’t do anything about privacy.

Tapping the menu reveals additional features. A menu item called Safari Web Advisor explained how to add K7 to Safari’s Share menu. The explanation matched an older iOS version, but I got it working regardless. The result was disappointing. K7 doesn’t actively warn of dangerous sites in Safari. Rather, you must open the Share menu and invoke K7, which then tells you whether the site is safe.

Other features invoked from the menu include: backup and restore of contacts, as on Android; a simple usage tracker for cellular and Wi-Fi data; and a System Analyzer that reports on your device’s memory and storage disposition.

As with the Android app, you pay $6.99 per year for the iOS app alone. Given its much smaller feature set, I’d say there’s even less of a reason to expend one of your $30 K7 Ultimate licenses on this app.

Broad, Not Deep

K7 Ultimate Security includes the broad array of features that we’ve come to expect in a security mega-suite, and it extends protection to macOS, Android, and iOS as well. Security on Android covers the expected bases, but macOS protection is antivirus-only, and on iOS it does very little. The Windows edition improves the woefully limited parental control of the entry-level suite, but where many competitors offer hosted online storage, K7’s backup is local-only. To top it off, K7 costs significantly more on a per-device basis than superior suites.

If you’re looking for a mega-suite that’s loaded with features, choose Bitdefender Total Security instead. It’s our Editors’ Choice in that arena, and it also covers macOS, Android, and iOS. Norton 360 Deluxe and Kaspersky Security Cloud are our Editors’ Choice picks for cross-platform multi-device suites. With Norton, you get five licenses, five no-limits VPN licenses, and 50GB of hosted online storage for two-thirds of K7’s price. Kaspersky costs the same as K7, but protects 20 devices to K7’s five. Any of these will be a better choice.

K7 Ultimate Security Specs

VPN None
Firewall Yes
Antispam Yes
Parental Control Yes
Backup Yes
Tune-Up Yes

Best Security Suite Picks

Further Reading

Source Article