ESET NOD32 has traditionally performed well after testing by independent laboratories, and its Smart Security Premium package leads in terms of its characteristics.
I’ve tested its usability, gone through its features, rated its internet security protection, and put ESET Customer Support to give you an answer. With so many solid solutions available in the ever crowded antivirus software market, can it offer more than just a good virus detection and privacy protection feature? Here’s what I was able to find out.
What About Safety?
ESET Smart Security Premium, which combines the antivirus features of Eset Nod32 Antivirus and ESET Internet Security in one package, provides users with a complete set of security features to ensure the integrity and security of their devices. Some of the standout features where Smart Security Premium differs from many include the following:
Independently verified antivirus protection
ESET includes antivirus protection that has proven to be one of the most effective on the market.
While testing 18 custom home protection products last year, leading independent lab AV-Test found it was 100% effective against the most common malware in ESET detections and 98.8% effective against zero-day malware attacks. We always emphasize the importance of having effective protection against zero-day attacks – threats so new that vulnerabilities have not even been documented yet – and the almost 100% detection that ESET boasts – is a clear indication that it has the ability to stop these threats in advance.
Top notch internet security tools
In addition to one of the most powerful antivirus engines on the market, ESET Smart Security Premium includes a range of online security tools. These include Anti-Phishing Protection, which monitors and protects against attempts to steal personal information by fraudulent sites. It also includes Intelligent Cloud Scan, which checks system files against a whitelist used by the ESET Live Grid® database.
The package is available for users running Windows 10, 8.1, 8, 7, Vista, and Microsoft Windows Home Server 2011. Although ESET also offers some solutions for Mac and Linux, this product is only available for those running Windows, so if you use something else, I’m afraid this tool is not for you.
In addition to its impressive virus detection and internet security capabilities, ESET Smart Security Premium includes several other programs that help keep your system in top condition.
UEFI Scanner – Pre-Boot Threat Detection
Those of us who love to tinker with operating systems—especially the BIOS firmware that loads right after the system starts—have probably come across the term UEFI before. UEFI stands for Unified Extensible Firmware Interface, and is the newer of the two firmware classes.
There is a possibility that malware can infiltrate a computer at a low enough level to corrupt the UEFI code. ESET has been a pioneer in this regard by offering one of the first UEFI scanners on the market. Knowing that your operating system and the firmware it boots with are clean of malicious code, you can have absolute peace of mind that your system is running smoothly. The main advantage of ESET is that it goes beyond the box (almost literally!) and shows that antivirus protection should not only start after the bootloader.
Scan controls help you stay in control
Once the system is up and running, of course, all scheduled, on-demand, and real-time Smart Security Premium system settings need to be run to make sure everything works reliably.
ESET scanning covers local drives, network/virtual drives and removable media, so everything running on and connected to your system is protected. In addition, files are automatically scanned when opened, created and executed. I was particularly pleased that users were given the option to change any of these default configurations. This allows you to easily set up some very specific scanning rules – for example, enable automatic checking of executable files, but disable file opening protection.
In addition, the system (by default) knows how to apply different levels of protection. Just like the scan rules, any of these settings can be changed so that the scan is performed exactly as you would like. For example, files that have not changed since the last time the scan was run are not rescanned. However, by disabling the “smart optimization” option, you can disable this feature and force the scan to run.
Script-based threat detection
Windows PowerShell is one of the most powerful components of a Windows computer.
ESET Smart Security Premium includes a powerful threat detection engine. This allows you to stay vigilant to detect script-based threats that can attack from anywhere on users’ systems, including browser scripts. In recent releases, ESET has gone far enough to cover all major platforms—browser script detection works whether it’s running on Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Microsoft Internet Explorer, or Microsoft Edge.
Host Based Intrusion Prevention System
Next on the list of exciting features that ESET has developed for Smart Security Premium is Host Based Intrusion Prevention System (HIPS). HIPS works by protecting user computers from the network layer to the application layer (essentially all connection layers) and offers comprehensive protection against all possible threats. It does this by carefully observing the characteristics of the host’s operating system and monitoring it for signs of suspicious activity.
HIPS is a powerful form of antivirus protection that often runs on enterprise-grade endpoints like servers and workstations, and for good reason. It deeply checks the state of the operating system to make sure that critical system components, such as the file registry, for example, are not tampered with by a rootkit that could not be detected in previous stages of detection. HIPS also includes built-in self-protection technology to protect against malicious code that targets the program itself to bypass all forms of system protection.
Enabling it gives some serious weight to the Smart Security Premium feature. I give ESET a thumbs up for including this feature.
Scan in standby mode
It’s hard to get around the fact that performing a comprehensive file and directory scan will result in some system performance degradation.
ESET allows you to enable standby scanning in the advanced settings menu in the antivirus configuration. Idle Scan will automatically initiate an automatic scan of files and directories while your computer is idle, including when your computer is in screensaver mode, locked, or when your account is logged out.
This is a feature that particularly pleased me. I enabled this feature and locked my computer for twenty minutes during testing. It was great to know that while I was gardening, the scanning engine automatically ran and checked my directories for threats.
Scan at boot time
It never crossed my mind before, but checking files for viruses after they’ve already been downloaded makes as much sense as setting up an alarm system after your house has already been looted by burglars—by the time malware has been downloaded, there is a good chance that it has already begun to harm your system!
Fortunately, the ESET team figured this out before me, and this is another area where the program really excels. ESET Smart Security Premium automatically scans downloads for threats as they are downloaded. When a threat is detected, the user is immediately notified and the download is blocked. I tested this feature using my own test malware and am happy to report that it worked exactly as I expected.
When it comes to online security, ESET Smart Security Premium contains an anti-phishing engine that automatically intercepts and blocks web pages that distribute content related to phishing and social media attacks. I like the fact that there is an option to go to a page and report incorrectly blocked pages to improve the accuracy of the feature for other users. Also, I liked that the ESET Phishing Filter has a whitelist so you can add websites that have been incorrectly flagged as phishing sites. When this web access protection is used with the program’s other features—including real-time protection, scheduled scanning, and the ability to scan in-progress downloads—it’s hard to imagine how a malicious piece of code could bypass Smart Security Premium’s multiple layers of protection.
Gamers, of course, need to be sure that their cherished machines are not infected with viruses and malware. For gamers who want to use the many security features of Smart Security Premium without being bombarded with notifications or not receiving them at all, ESET has developed a “game mode” that allows gamers to continue playing without being interrupted by notifications. I liked how you can set the system to enter game mode when the full window is open (press “advanced settings” and “tools” to enable this feature). This, of course, means that those who use their computers as media hubs—or simply watch a movie on them—can use this feature to avoid being distracted by pop-up notifications about scans and other details.
Security threats can come through any port and protocol, which is why it’s important that any comprehensive cybersecurity software handles every possible contingency. Smart Security Premium comes with an email filtering component that allows you to manage all email protocols (including POP3, MAPI, IMAP and HTTP). The email filtering component can also integrate with Microsoft Outlook, Outlook Express, Windows Mail and Windows Live Mail and gives users full control over what actions they would like to set up for emails to be effective. Personally, I gave up on desktop email programs many years ago, but many corporate users still have to use them. After testing the integration, I was completely confident in its ability to protect against any infected attachments – it turned out to be quite simple.
Smart Security Premium has a simple and visually pleasing interface.
I liked how the program easily and quickly displays all connected drives, making it easy to set up to scan only certain parts of the system (for example, a USB drive that I temporarily worked with). Detected threats were easily flagged with a red warning symbol and the “action after scan” button allowed me to quickly decide what I would like the system to do after all the directories were scanned.
For those who want to dive deeper into the settings, there are many detailed features that ESET includes in the tool. I think the development team did a really good job of separating the basic set of features that most users will want to have access to and the more advanced settings for more advanced users. For example, if I wanted to run an on-demand scan, all I had to do was press a button. And the various advanced scanning options were nicely arranged in a sub-menu on the right side of the screen.
Although I have spent years reviewing all sorts of programs, like everyone else, I inevitably run into some difficulties when using a new product. How does ESET behave when it comes to customer interactions? First, let’s talk about what resources they offer.
There is a knowledge base that the company has translated into various languages, including some less common ones such as Slovenian and Portuguese. It’s not the most comprehensive documentation I’ve seen, but it’s more than enough to help users solve most of the problems they’ll ever run into. You can also find a link in the knowledge base to create a ticket and access the online chat. A series of buttons with Q&A blocks handles the most common customer issues, and if this information was not enough to resolve the issue, you can open a ticket with a problem and contact a real person.
Chat support may be available from a completely different URL. I think this is a great idea, because for many users, this is the preferred method for solving problems. The support chat is handled by a program called Bomgar and even integrates with your operating system’s notification system.
Finally, there is a call center located in San Diego, California. For those who prefer to use this method of communication, it is very convenient and pleasant that the company spends money on providing such an opportunity.
Given that it includes Internet Security and Nod32 Antivirus features, Smart Security Premium is more expensive than the other two premium products from ESET. However, the difference is negligible and I stick with my usual recommendation not to try to save on substantial protection for your operating system. Subscription options range from one to three years, and prices vary depending on the number of connected devices.
All credit cards are accepted as payment, and Paypal also works. ESET also offers a free 30-day trial that can be downloaded directly from the website.
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