ESET Review

by Christo Petrov

Have you ever wanted to buy one antivirus knowing it has everything you need?

Most vendors stick to the basics. They give you the antivirus core, they add a few extra functions, and they pack it as an internet security suite.

The problem is you still need to install additional software to take care of things not covered by the pack.

That’s not the case with Slovak vendor ESET. Its internet security solution is like a Swiss army knife: tools and functions are jumping out of everywhere.

In this ESET review, I’ll discuss Internet Security, the company’s mid-priced home product. Known for its NOD32 technology, the company has put the effort into creating an all-in-one cybersecurity solution.

It’s by far one of the most feature-rich cybersecurity solutions for individual users I’ve seen.

But has it succeeded?

Price

ESET Internet Security costs $49.99 for 1 year per device. You can save $20 by buying a 2-year license for $79.99.

Free Version

There is no free version, but you can try the 30-day free trial. It doesn’t require a credit card, and you can see just what to expect from the product.

Installation

It takes a couple of minutes to set up ESET. The installation begins with downloading an executable file.

Before ESET installation is complete, you’ll have to provide your email address and choose your preferred language. Then you go through some other adjustments like choosing whether to activate ESET’s feedback system, LiveGrid, or enable detection of potentially unwanted applications.

When you first start the program, you can enable other protective features like parental control and the antitheft function. Then you’re good to go.

User Interface

If you’ve never used an ESET protection product before, you might find it hard to work with at first.

It’s not that the interface is confusing. This security suite is so full of features that a simple six tab menu requires lots of clicking until you find what you are looking for.

Most of the basic functions are easily accessible from the main menu. But there are others – like see what ESET has protected you from or get a list of the running processes on the device – that need at least 3 clicks to be launched.

What is ESET from the inside? Let’s get a view of the main menu.

The Home tab will probably remind you of a news bulletin. To the right, there is the famous ESET android. Next to it is a green-lit sign “You are protected.” Alternatively, if you’re testing the trial version, you may see a warning urging you to buy the paid product.

The Computer scan tab is responsible for the ESET virus protection functions. It contains the scanning options and a drag-and-drop feature so you can scan separate files with ease.

From this tab, you can set up custom scans (more on this in the Features section).

The Update tab is where you get information about your software’s version and when was the last time you successfully updated it.

The Tools tab gives you access to some very useful ESET security features like the Connected Home Monitor, the banking and payment protection, and the antitheft tool.

But to see the true variety of ESET’s features, you need to click the More tools button in the lower right-hand corner of the screen.

That’s where you’ll find plenty of the suite’s functions like security reports, log files, a system cleaner, and even an option to send a suspicious file to ESET Research Lab for analysis.

The Setup tab is your control board. You can enable and disable most of ESET’s protection functions. Want to disable botnet protection? Or perhaps you want to enable webcam protection to prevent spying attempts? This is the place to do it.

Finally, a convenient Help and support tab is giving you access to the ESET knowledge base. It has some other informational resources like a Threat encyclopedia or a Log Collector guide.

And, of course, from this tab, you can contact customer support.

Features

ESET Internet Security is jam-packed with features. Are you curious about what this suite can do?

Scanning 

ESET performs an initial scan of your system from the moment the software is installed on the device. After that, you can choose when and what to scan.

Options don’t end with folders or the entire disk. For example, you can choose to scan the operating memory or the UEFI (BIOS’s successor).

This detail could easily make ESET a top contender for the “Best antivirus software for Windows 10” tag. The company is one of the few vendors that offer a UEFI scanner.

UEFI malware is not a common threat. But if it attacks your machine, it can be very hard to remove. Even measures like reinstalling the OS or replacing the disk drive can turn out to be useless.

A UEFI scanner can save you the trouble by detecting the threats before they hit your device.

Malware Protection

ESET Internet Security shields your device with many layers of protection. You’ve got the real-time file system protection, the cloud-based protection, and the Host Intrusion Prevention System (HIPS), to name a few.

ESET’s LiveGrid is a reputation system that gathers information about malicious code from users worldwide. It can be useful for detecting threats that evolve fast and are hard to be recognized by other protective layers.

The idea behind all this, I guess, is to have enough malware-proof vests, just in case one of them doesn’t do its job.

Ransomware Protection

My ESET review cannot go on without mentioning the Ransomware shield, which monitors the behavior of programs trying to modify the data on your device. That’s how ransomware works – it sneaks into your device and encrypts your data, so you are unable to use it.

To work properly, the Ransomware Shield needs the LiveGrid to be enabled, so make sure you do that. Once it’s up and running, the shield will block any application whose behavior it considers suspicious.

Device and Network Monitoring

ESET has a great set of monitoring tools that give you an idea of what’s happening with your network and the devices connected to it.

Almost any ESET review will have something to say about SysInspector. It is ESET’s diagnostic tool that spits out snapshots of your system’s current condition.

SysInspector is integrated into ESET’s products, but you can also download it for free as a standalone tool. It will notify you of software issues, hardware incompatibility, outdated drivers, an unpatched OS, etc.

ESET Internet Security also gives you the ability to monitor the file system activity by giving you reports about how much data is being read and written on the device. Need log files about important program events? The internet security suite has that, too.

What about network monitoring? Well, you can use the Connected Home Monitor. It scans your home network for connected devices and lists all available information about them.

Can Internet Security test the strength of your network’s security? No, but it will try to find the device type and manufacturer. It’s a good way to check if threat actors (or your neighbors) are connected to your wi-fi network.

Antitheft Protection

An antitheft function is always a plus in today’s world of mobility and bring-your-own-device corporate culture.

If your device is lost or stolen, the antitheft function can help you locate it or even identify the thief. I tried it personally for the sake of this ESET review, and it worked great!

You’ll need to setup a My ESET account to use this function. In case of a lost or stolen laptop, you can log into your account and see its location (as long as the device is connected to the internet).

Once a device is marked as stolen, the antitheft tool will load a fake Windows profile and periodically take webcam snapshots. So whoever has your device won’t be able to see the data on it, and you’ll get his mugshots at the same time.

Payments Protection

Online payments can easily be compromised, so what is ESET doing to protect them? You might be asking yourself this question, especially if you do a lot of online banking.

ESET uses a banking and payment protection feature that secures your online transactions. To use it, ESET suggests that you set Internet Explorer as your default browser, although it works with Chrome and Firefox, too.

Once activated, this tool encrypts the communication between the keyboard and the browser. This way, the ESET secure browser can prevent keylogging and credentials theft.

Scanning for Viruses

Now it’s time to start the stopwatch. We’re about to see how fast ESET is in scanning and whether the program causes other apps to slow down.

A normal scan with ESET took 26 seconds. That’s quite fast, but it’s only the default option.

I played around with the settings and performed a custom check-up with an in-depth scan of the laptop. Being part of an ESET AV product, this scan should detect problems not only on the disk but also in the UEFI, the software that boots your machine before your operating system starts.

The scan took 28 minutes, much longer than a normal one. I kept testing it using different scan profiles. Most scans needed a minute or two to be completed.

ESET Internet Security has this thing called Gamer mode. It’s supposed to minimize intrusion from scanning while full-screen applications are running (think movies, games, etc).

I don’t know if it’s due to the Gamer mode, but none of the scans I performed with ESET had any visible impact on the system performance. I was able to watch a movie, play music, browse websites, and play a video game easily, without any interruptions or jamming.

Real-time Protection

With so many different layers of protection, is ESET safe to use as a security solution? These tests might give you a hint.

Phishing Protection: 10/10

I tested ESET’s phishing protection by loading the latest phishing pages I found on Phishtank.com. It did a perfect job detecting all the samples.

On the other hand, it couldn’t recognize a few social engineering giveaway pages. But that’s not what an antiphishing tool is supposed to do anyway, so I didn’t mark it as a fail.

Parental Control Protection: 7/10

Apparently, ESET thinks gory images are suitable for children. The default parental control filter didn’t block gore image galleries, and a website with uncensored videos, some of which had gruesome content.

But this is not a biased ESET review, so I should add that the suite did block other types of inappropriate content like porn, guns, and violence.

Downloading the EICAR Test File

The test file couldn’t get past ESET’s protection. The software detected the malicious but harmless EICAR test both as a downloadable file and an archive.

Independent Lab Test

Unfortunately, independent research lab AV-Test has no recent test results for Internet Security.

Customer Support

The ESET logo is well known (the company claims more than 110 million users worldwide), so having good customer support is just as important for its reputation as the quality of its products.

ESET has done a lot to ensure users have enough sources of information, including a knowledge base, and some support tools for resolving issues quickly.

I sent a couple of queries through an online form and was glad to see feedback within minutes.

The company also invests in local customer support, which is a smart move because it works great for non-English speakers.

Conclusion

ESET has made a solid cybersecurity solution that will appeal to most home users. In this ESET review, I’ve pointed out plenty of reasons why you should invest in the product.

Of course, there’s always the possibility that ESET is simply not your thing. In this case, you can take a look at other TechJury AV reviews.

Pros: 

  • Very feature-rich
  • Multi-layer protection

Cons:

  • Default parental controls are not restrictive enough

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