Kaspersky vs Norton | The Ultimate Comparison (2018)

Can’t decide whether to go with Kaspersky or Norton? You’ve come to the right place!

In this comprehensive comparison, you’ll see the features both Kaspersky and Norton offer in their antivirus suites, and how they stack up against each other in terms of malware protection, system impact, user interface, cost, and more.

In the modern, technology-driven world, a reliable antivirus suite is no longer an option but a requirement. A study conducted by CNN found out that the average American spends over 10 hours a day staring at a screen, with computers and mobile phones topping the list of most-used devices.

The digital freedom we enjoy comes at a cost.

Do you know AV-Test institute registers over 350,000 new malware samples every single day? Hackers are constantly releasing new malware that can do a lot of horrible things, such as takeover your important files, breach your privacy, steal your sensitive credentials, corrupt your system.

So it’s clear that if you don’t have a reliable antivirus software installed on your computer, it’s only a matter of time before you’ll become yet another victim of rampant malware attacks.

First, let’s look at the security suites that both Norton and Kaspersky offer.

Kaspersky Antivirus Suites
Kaspersky Free (Windows only)
Kaspersky Anti-Virus (Windows only)
Kaspersky Internet Security (Mac & Windows)
Kaspersky Total Security (Mac & Windows)
Virus Scanner (Mac only)
Virus Scanner Pro (Mac only)
Norton Antivirus Suites
Norton AntiVirus Basic (Windows only)
Norton Security Standard (Windows & Mac)
Norton Security Deluxe (Windows & Mac)
Norton Security Premium (Windows & Mac)

If you just want to read the summary of this comparison, take a look at the infographic below and also read our short verdict to make your mind.

Kaspersky vs Norton Summary

Short Verdict

Kaspersky is a clear winner as it not only offers more security-related features (and extra utilities) than Norton but also boasts a better level of malware protection. Also, independent tests prove that Kaspersky is better than Norton in terms of impact on system performance.

Our recommendation: Go with Kaspersky Total Security for great value and maximum peace of mind.

Let’s start off the detailed comparison…

What’s Included in Kaspersky’s Antivirus Suites?

Kaspersky Free is the company’s free antivirus product. It offers basic-level malware protection, scans downloaded files for malware and also protects against online attacks.

If your computer is so riddled with malware that it won’t start, you can make use of Kaspersky’s Rescue Disk.

The downside of using a free product is that it usually offers limited protection and very few — if at all — advanced features/utilities. If security is your top priority, you should go with the premium suite that best meets your needs.

Kaspersky’s entry-level premium offering is Kaspersky Anti-Virus. Along with everything that is included in the freeware, it offers ransomware protection, a Silent Mode utility (for interruption-free experience), and a vulnerability scanner (checks for outdated software and other system vulnerabilities).

Next level up is Kaspersky Internet Security – the company’s most popular suite. It adds a two-way Firewall (monitors network traffic and thwarts hacking attempts via network), a hardened browser for safe shopping/banking, and webcam & microphone protection.

A limited parental control module is also included in the suite. It helps you control what sites your children visit and how much time they can spend online.

Kaspersky Total Security is the company’s full-blown suite. Along with everything that is part of the “Internet Security” suite, it adds a Data Shredder (lets you safely delete your sensitive files so they can’t be recovered), an unlimited password manager (securely stores all your passwords at one place for logins hassle-free), and a file backup utility with 2GB of online space.

A fully-fledged parental control filter and a file encryption utility (makes your sensitive documents/information inaccessible to hackers) are also included in the “Total Security” suite.

Features Included in Kaspersky's Antivirus Suites

Also, a single subscription of Kaspersky Total Security protects all your PCs, Macs, and mobile devices.

A limited free VPN (with the data cap of 20MB) is also included in all Kaspersky suites.

Note: Both Kaspersky Internet Security and Kaspersky Total Security are compatible with both Windows and Mac.

What’s Included in Norton’s Antivirus Suites?

Unlike other antivirus companies, Norton doesn’t offer a freeware.

The bare-bones Norton AntiVirus Basic is the company’s entry-level premium product. It offers limited malware protection and no extra features/utilities other than a useful password manager, which is available as a browser extension.

Note: Norton AntiVirus Basic is only compatible with Windows.

Next level up is Norton Security Standard. Along with everything that is part of the entry-level suite, it offers a two-way Firewall and premium customer support. This suite (and other higher plans) also comes with the virus protection guarantee; in case of malware infection, a Norton expert will either remove it or give you a refund.

You can protect 1 PC and 1 Mac or 1 mobile device with Norton Security Standard.

Another level up is Norton Security Deluxe. It adds a web portal (helps manage all your devices easily) and several PC optimization tools, such as File Clean-up and Disk Optimizer.

You can protect up to 5 PCs, Mac, mobile devices, or tablets under this suite.

Norton Security Premium is the company’s top-level suite. Along with everything that’s jammed into the ‘Deluxe’ suite, it offers family safety features, automatic back-up of your important files (and other documents of your choice), and a secure cloud space of 25GB.

Norton Security Premium comes at different price points depending on the number of PCs, Macs, mobile phones and tablets you want to protect, ranging from 1 to 10.

Features included in Norton security suites

Surprisingly, file shredder, hardened web browser, and webcam protection are not part of even the top-of-the-line Norton plans.

Kaspersky vs Norton: Which has Better Malware Protection?

Malware protection should be the most important consideration when buying an antivirus product.

Malware can be classified into two types: known malware (also called widespread malware) and unknown malware (or zero-day malware).

The former type of malware in the one for which digital signatures are already available, meaning an antivirus product can catch it using traditional signature-based scanning (i.e. comparing a suspected file against a huge database of known malware signature files). The latter form of malware is the one that is more prevalent and difficult to catch as no previous signatures are available for it.

Antivirus software relies on heuristic analysis (checking for behavioral attributes of suspected files) to catch zero-day malware.

To find out how Kaspersky and Norton stack up against each other in terms of malware protection, I’ll look at the most recent independent lab tests conducted by AV-Test and AV-Comparatives – two well-known and respected security product testing institutes that thoroughly examine top antivirus products.

AV-Test’s most recent evaluations were held on Windows 10 in March and April 2018. All participating products were tested against 196 samples of zero-day malware and 5,485 samples of widespread malware.

Kaspersky and Norton both came up with perfect results; both caught 100% of both types of malware samples in March and April, earning 6/6 star ratings from the experts in the ‘Protection’ category. (See this and this if interested in detailed results.)

Kaspersky's protection test report when conducted on Windows 10 by AV-Test on March-April 2018

Kaspersky did not return a single false positive (falsely identifying a clean file as a malware) in these tests, earning another 6/6 star rating in the “Usability” category. Norton, on the other hand, received 5/6 stars from the AV-Test experts in the “Usability” category, as it returned 10 false positives over the period of both months.

To check the protection level of different antivirus products, the experts at AV-Comparatives do Malware Protection Test and Real-World Protection Test. The latter exposes a product to real-world conditions (as experienced by everyday users), while the former tests the effectiveness of a product’s on-demand and on-access scanning engines.

In the AV-Comparatives most recent Malware Protection Test, which was held in March 2018, Kaspersky received the highest ADVANCED+ award due to its near-perfect protection rate of 99.98% and a low false positive score of 11.

On the other hand, Norton’s protection rate was excellent, at 99.99%, but it returned a whopping 90 false positives, which meant it had to settle for just the STANDARD award.

AV-Comparatives malware protection test awards - March 2018

AV-Comparatives Real-World Protection Test included aggregate results of the tests conducted over the period of five months, from February to June 2018. The results were more or less the same as the previous test, with Kaspersky Lab getting the highest ADVANCED+ award in this test and Norton clinging on to the second-best ADVANCED award this time.

AV-Comparatives real-world protection test awards - February to June 2018

So it’s clear from the independent lab tests that Kaspersky is better than Norton in terms of malware protection

Winner: Kaspersky

Kaspersky vs Norton: Which Puts Less Impact on System?

It is important for a security product to not occupy a lot of system resources, or else you’ll have system performance issues – especially if your computer is behind the times.

Again, I’ll look at the most recent performance tests by the independent labs to see which of the two software puts less impact on system performance.

AV-Test’s Performance Test looks at the influence of each participating product on computer performance (speed) while executing few common computer operations, such as browsing websites, downloading applications, launching applications, copying files.

The impact each product exerts on a system is measured in terms of system slowdown.

Both Kaspersky and Norton registered perfect 6/6 star ratings in this test.

Kaspersky's performance test report when conducted on Windows 10 by AV-Test on March-April 2018

AV-Comparatives’ Performance Test is more or less the same as AV-Test’s study. Few common computer operations are executed and an impact score (the lower, the better) is assigned to each participating product depending on their impact on system speed.

Interestingly, Kaspersky was awarded the highest ADVANCED+ award courtesy an impressive impact score of 7.2, while Norton received the second-best ADVANCED honor, with a slightly worse impact score of 16.1.

AV-Comparatives performance test awards - April 2018

Overall, it can be said that both Kaspersky and Norton are light on system resources, but Kaspersky is slightly better than Norton in this regard.

Winner: Kaspersky

Kaspersky vs Norton: Which Offers a Better User Interface?

Another important consideration is the user experience.

Let’s delve into Kaspersky’s user interface.

Kaspersky’s interface is neat and simple – in colors of green, white and grey. The Home window, which is also the default screen, has links to six different modules: Scan, Database Update, SafeMoney, Privacy Protection, Parental Controls, and Multi-device Protection. Each module contains relevant features and their settings.

A green horizontal banner at the top shows a reassuring “Your Computer is protected” message next to a checkmark provided your computer is in good condition. It quickly turns to red if there is a problem that needs to be addressed.

At the bottom, there a menu which links to settings, news, support and more.

Kaspersky's interface as seen on Windows 10

And it goes without saying that if you’re using the freeware, all of the advanced features and utilities will not be available to you.

Now, let’s see what Norton’s user interface has to offer…

Norton’s user interface is simple and minimalistic, in shades of green and white. You’ll see the same “You Are Protected” message on the main window if everything is in check. In addition, you’ll find four horizontally arranged modules (Security, Identity, Performance, and More Norton) on the main screen. Each module is self-explanatory and consists of relevant features (and their settings).

The option to run a Quick Scan is also available on the main window.

Norton's Interface as seen on Windows 10

Links to Settings, Help, and Report Card (gives you an overview of different activities) are there in the top bar. At the bottom, you’ll find your subscription status.

Overall, it can be said that both Kaspersky and Norton offer a simple and easy-to-use user interface.

Winner: It’s a tie

Kaspersky vs Norton: Which is More Cheaper?

Kaspersky Antivirus Suites Price (USD) / Device(s) Covered
Kaspersky Free (Get it) Free (Unlimited PCs)
Kaspersky Anti-Virus (Get it) $29.99/year (3 PCs)
Kaspersky Internet Security (Get it) $39.99/year (3 Devices)
Kaspersky Total Security (Get it) $49.99/year (3 Devices)
Virus Scanner (Get it) Free (Unlimited Macs)
Virus Scanner Pro (Get it) $11.99/year (1 Device)
Norton Security Product Price (USD) / Device(s) covered
Norton AntiVirus Basic $29.99/year (1 Device)
Norton Security Standard $39.99/year (1 Device)
Norton Security Deluxe $49.99/year (5 Devices)
Norton Security Premium $54.99/year (10 Devices)

Overall, Norton’s suites are a touch expensive than Kaspersky’s.

Winner: Kaspersky

Kaspersky vs Norton: Which is More Popular?

Now, let’s see which product is more popular.

To find out whether Kaspersky or Norton is more popular, I’ll look at the most recent independent antivirus market share report, along with the number of followers of both companies on social media.

According to the most recent OPSWAT report – a company that releases monthly reports on the market share of leading antivirus companies – report, Kaspersky lab stands eighth on the list of top antivirus companies, with 5.23% of the total market share. Interestingly, Norton by Symantec didn’t make it to the list at all.

Avast is leading the market with a 17.79% market share, followed by ESET and Malwarebytes.

OPSWAT Anti-virus Market Share Report (August 2018)

On Facebook, Kaspersky has just over 3.3 million fans while Norton’s tally stands at 1.3 million. Kaspersky is leading on Twitter too, with nearly 300k followers as opposed to Norton’s 160k.

So it’s clear that Kaspersky is more popular than Norton.

Winner: Kaspersky

Bottom line

Both Kaspersky and Norton offer a diverse range of antivirus suites to match your protection needs.

Kaspersky is clearly a better option than Norton as its security suites not only offer more security-related features and utilities but also boast better malware protection.

Go with Kaspersky Total Security for great value and maximum peace of mind.

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Umair Anwar

Umair Anwar has helped several online companies grow their influence and revenue by implementing strategies and tactics that actually work. He is an internet marketer and a technology buff.

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