ESET Internet Security: The antivirus software put to the test

The Slovak capital Bratislava is not exactly known as an IT stronghold. Still, there are some antivirus pioneers here who keep keeping up with the latest developments in malware. These are the developers of the Software company ESET, which has been synonymous with high quality for several years.


    ESET - what is it?

    ESET is one Slovak software developer, who is also one of the leading experts in IT security on an international level. The company's portfolio includes Antivirus programs for the operating systems Windows, Android and MacOS. While the three packages “Smart Security Premium”, “Internet Security” and “NOD32” are available for Windows computers, there is the protection software “Cyber ​​Security” and “Cyber ​​Security Pro” for Macs.

    ESET's protection programs offer the user a number of advantages, but of course also have some disadvantages. Here is an overview:


    • The programs only take up a small amount of memory.
    • Malware is widely detected.
    • In addition to device protection, there is also webcam protection.
    • The user interface can be operated easily and intuitively.
    • The number of configuration options is high.
    • Particularly deep threats can be detected using a UEFI scanner.

    The disadvantages

    • The test results of the test laboratories are mixed.
    • There is no integrated password manager.
    • The design looks a bit old-fashioned.
    • Child protection is not particularly sophisticated.

    The establishment and the operation

    Download and install ESET Smart Security protection software take about a minute, whereby only a few configurations are possible in advance.

    For example, the user can choose whether to use the additional function Live grid activated. This function makes it possible to collect information about threats from other users worldwide. The program does not bring any unnecessary bloatware onto the computer and the user can use additional functions such as child safety or a Password manager install after installation.

    Once the installation is complete, Smart Security will run a Initial scan to determine the current threat situation. This is by no means a quick scan, rather all files on the computer are extensively analyzed. This scan takes some time, but it can also run in the background. The user can also specify whether the computer should be put into sleep mode or shut down after the scan.

    It is designed User interface very simple. Only the current security status and a selection of important functions and information about the license and the latest update are displayed there. The main menu, which is on the left, leads the user to the other functions. Right next to the start page is a subpage in which scans, tools, settings, update information as well as help and support are displayed. In the tools area, the other functions can be selected via a submenu.

    • Real-time protection options as well as other features are displayed in the settings menu. There the user can switch the various protection modes on and off. Thus, ESET Smart Security proves to be extremely smart to use and impresses with a easy navigation.

    The functions

    ESET Antivirus is offered for the operating system in a total of three tariffs, which differ in terms of the number of features. These are NOID 32 Antivirus, Internet Security and Smart Security Premium.

    The features in the different tariffs

    • One of the most important components of antivirus programs is the manual scan. ESET does without a conventional quick scan feature. In the settings, however, the user can select different scan profiles in the user-defined scans. It is also possible to scan removable media such as DVDs and USB devices or to repeat scans.
    • The Real-time protection can be configured in the settings. This protection can be activated and deactivated here; the user can also specify in detail which data carriers he would like to scan for which actions. Certain processes can also be manually excluded from the scan.
    • The Ransomware Shield, ransomware protection is available for Windows in all ESET plans. This prevents the files on the computer from being changed by viruses and other malware or the user becoming a victim of blackmail trojans, which take the data on the computer hostage. Anti-Phishing, which blocks fraudulent websites, is also included in all versions.
    • The same goes for the Web and email protection. Here, too, it is possible for the user to make additional configurations. For example, he can determine how high the cleaning level is and which objects are scanned. The configuration options here are extremely detailed and varied. However, the user quickly loses track of the numerous submenus. However, these options are a pure bonus; it is usually sufficient to switch these modules on and off.
    • Furthermore, in all versions of the program a Gamer mode which improve the performance of the computer when an application is running in full screen mode. There is also a UEFI scanner. This searches for threats that are hidden deep in the computer. A check by this scanner takes place before Windows boots so that malware is also detected, which is located deep below the surface.
    On the other hand, it's a little more complicated to get one Scan schedule to create. Users will find a corresponding task planner with the help of which it is possible to plan the scans within a certain time sequence under the other tools. Even if it doesn't seem too logical at first glance that this option is not in the scan menu, this detour is worthwhile thanks to the extended functionality that the task planner offers. Because other events can also be planned here. Such as running external applications or checking system startup files. These can even be linked to certain events.

    The "Internet Security" tariff and the features

    Additional features are only available from ESET from the Internet Security tariff.

    • These functions include, for example secure banking and paying with a integrated ESET browser. This ensures significantly better protection of personal data than a conventional browser, both for online banking and for other transactions on the Internet. In the advanced settings, the user can specify which websites should be opened automatically in this secure browser and when the program should better ask whether the page should really be opened. However, unlike Kaspersky, for example, bank websites are not recognized.
    • There is also an integrated Firewallwhich can be configured more precisely. It is possible to select different filter modes, create different firewall profiles and create rules individually. The integrated spam protection ensures that spam emails are automatically recognized and deleted. There is also webcam protection that detects which programs have access to the webcam. Unwanted visitors are then blocked.
    • ESET also offers another feature that other antivirus programs only offer for mobile devices: the Theft protection called My ESET Account. If a device is lost, it can be located using GPS, snapshots can be taken from the screen or the thief can be photographed using the webcam. This feature also controls parental controls, which parents can use to restrict or control their children's activities on the Internet.
    ESET Internet SecurityA solid antivirus with additional functions!Provider Website
    ESET logo
    • Strong virus scanner: Comprehensive malware detection
    • Intuitive user interface: Easy to use even for beginners
    • Extensive configuration options: Numerous individual settings possible
    • Absolute security: Device and webcam protection

    Smart Security Premium

    • Smart Security Premium is ESET's most expensive tariff and also offers this feature Secure data and a password manager. Secure Data makes it possible to create encrypted directories on removable media with the help of a certified encryption algorithm. The password manager is a licensed version of the Sticky Password password manager, which convinced the test. However, this bundle version does not contain all premium features.
    For example, what is missing is a File shredder, with the help of which files can be completely deleted from the devices. The most expensive tariff could use a little more features.

    The mobile features

    ESET Mobile Security will basically free of charge offered.

    • However, there is also a premium tariff here that contains additional features, for example manual virus scans, which the user can also schedule in time. The owner can also set the phone to be checked automatically when it is charged. This feature is extremely useful for users who value automated processes. Because such configurations are not often offered in mobile antivirus versions.
    • The free version offers some in addition to real-time protection Anti-theft measures. The user can lock the mobile phone or switch on a siren from his My ESET account. However, those who prefer proactive anti-theft measures need the premium version. Here it is possible, for example, to lock a device if a new SIM card is inserted that does not appear to be trustworthy. In this case, an SMS warning message is also sent to an alternative telephone number. This also contains data on the third-party SIM including the telephone number. In addition, location via GPS and deletion of the stored data is possible.
    • The offer is rounded off by a App lock. Selected applications can be protected from prying eyes on the mobile phone using a fingerprint or a PIN code. If someone tries to unlock the device, it is also possible to take a picture of this person.
    • Furthermore, the user has the option of scanning his network and checking his network to determine whether there are any weak points or threats. He can change the application permissions of the installed apps with the Security audit manage and, if necessary, also restrict.
    The mobile application is not quite as successful as the application for desktop PCs. However, this is primarily due to the fact that the features on the mobile user interface cannot be pushed into the background, which makes everything a little more confusing.

    The protection and the performance

    The protection and performance are tested by the test laboratories AV-Comparatives and AV-Test. They award separate grades for both sub-areas. With regard to the ESET programs, there is no uniform agreement between the two test laboratories.

    • This was achieved in the most recent AV test from December 2017 with regard to the protective effect 5,5 out of six points.
    • The programs performed significantly worse in the AV-Comparatives test between July and October 2019. Because here it was No detection rate at 1,6 percent, so that the program only received one of three stars.
    • The results in terms of performance are also very different. So ESET landed here at AV-Comparatives first place and hung even sizes like Avast, Kaspersky and McAfee from.
    • AV-Test, on the other hand, only awards four out of six possible points.

    The support at ESET

    Users of desktop applications can easily access ESET support via the main menu. There are links to the German help page and to Knowledge Base, where video tutorials are also stored. However, the knowledgebase can only be searched using the search function and there is no listing of the topics at all. The support is supplemented by a comparative active forum.

    Users can only reach the support staff directly via a Support ticket, To get to the relevant form, you first have to click through a series of FAQs. Furthermore stands a Live chat available, in which the questions are answered within a very short time Monday to Friday for eleven hours. There is no hotline, but ESET's support is better than that of many other antivirus providers.

    The pricing at ESET

    ESET's protection programs are offered in two tariffs for MacOS and three for Windows. If the user decides on a subscription, he can also use the Number of devices and the duration of the subscription establish. If necessary, there is also an additional discount here.

    For Android phones only one tariff is offered, but child safety is offered as an additional product. The tariffs for business customers differ from those for private customers; they are linked to the size of the company.


    The ESET desktop applications are some of the best available on the market. Amateurs can use them intuitively, but they also offer a fair amount of complexity for hobbyists. It is positive that the standard functions are largely covered and numerous features such as the UEFI scanner are available.

    Given this diversity, the laboratory results are somewhat disappointing. Because this picture is inconsistent, ESET cannot be classified among the big names in IT security. However, if a user accepts an above-average non-detection rate, he receives a quite a successful product with numerous options and functions.

    About Jasmin Fuchs

    Jasmin Fuchs studied linguistics and trained in information technology and IT management.