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ESET Mobile Security: Is it worth the price of admission?

Jack Wallen takes a looks at the Mobile Security & Antivirus application by developer ESET. When it comes to securing your tablet, is it worth its price tag?

ESET Mobile Security & Antivirus

If you're willing to drop $19.95 per user license, you can have ESET Mobile Security on your Android tablet. Is it worth installing and purchasing? This is a question that I get asked quite often. Most people assume that since Android is based on the Linux kernel, it's free from viruses and spyware. However, it's not. The Google Play Store doesn't have the intense vetting process that the Apple App Store has, so you can find spyware apps in the mix. And since plenty of Android tablet owners use their devices for business tasks, additional security is often necessary.

Of course, with plenty of free security apps available, why should you pay for one? What I want to do is walk you through the process of installing and using ESET Mobile Security so that you can draw your own educated conclusion. Let's dive in and see if ESET's Android app, called Mobile Security & Antivirus, is worth its price tag.

Installation

The installation of ESET Mobile Security & Antivirus is quite simple. Just follow these steps:

  1. Open the Google Play Store
  2. Search for “eset mobile security” (no quotes)
  3. Locate and tap the entry for Mobile Security & Antivirus by developer ESET
  4. Tap Install
  5. Tap Accept
  6. Allow the installation to complete

Usage

When you first run the app, you'll have to agree to the EULA and then activate the program. The activation gives you the choice of taking advantage of the 30-day free trial period or immediately purchasing a license (Figure A).

Figure A

Figure A
ESET Mobile Security & Antivirus running on a Verizon-branded Samsung Galaxy Note tablet.

Once you've activated the trial license, you can always go back and purchase a license. Here's how:

  1. Open ESET Mobile Security & Antivirus
  2. Tap Activation
  3. Tap Buy now
  4. Purchase the license through the Google Play Store (as prompted)

Now, let's dive into the meat of the tool. I'll start with the one piece of this app that, in my opinion, makes it a valuable piece of software. When you finally get to the main screen (Figure B), you'll see (in bold red) the Security Risk! tab. These warnings come from the Security Audit feature. After the first run, you can re-run the security audit at any time. Tap the security warning to reveal what ESET believes to be the biggest security issue on your tablet.

Figure B

Figure B
The security warnings should not be ignored.

When you tap the Security Risk! tab, you'll be presented with the warnings. On my Galaxy Note tablet, I intentionally unset the security password for the lockscreen to see if ESET would catch it; it did and suggested that I set a security password. All I had to do was tap the warning (Figure C), and then set up the password.

Figure C

Figure C
Two warnings is two too many.

One of the warnings you'll automatically see is that ESET needs to be set up as a device administrator. This ensures that ESET cannot be uninstalled without knowing how. To do that, tap the warning for “Set ESET as Device Administrator” and then, in the new window, tap the Set a password button. After you enter and confirm the password (and enter a password hint), you'll be asked to apply the password to specific areas of ESET (Figure D).

Figure D

Figure D
Password protecting the uninstallation.

By default, the uninstall of the app will be added to password protection. You can add as many of the components as you like. Once you're done, click Apply. When this action is complete, in order to uninstall ESET, you'll have to disable it as a device administrator (done in Settings | Security | Device Administrators).

Take care of whatever warnings ESET displays first, and then you can jump back to the main screen and run the antivirus scan. This scan doesn't take long and can even be set up for real-time scanning (by default, this is already set up).

To get to the antivirus settings, open up ESET Mobile Security & Antivirus, and tap Antivirus | Settings. In the Settings window (Figure E), you can enable application scan, proactive protection, SD card scanning, default action (quarantine by default), and much more.

Figure E

Figure E
SD card scanning will be disabled if no SD card is detected.
You'll also see the Anti-Theft and Antispam features listed, both of which are geared toward Android smartphones, so there's no reason to even bother with those. With that in mind, you have to ask if ESET Mobile Security & Antivirus is worth purchasing and installing on your tablet. For me, I have to say yes, even for just the security audit feature. 

Do you have a security app on your tablet to help protect your device? Share your experience in the discussion thread below.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

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