Security

Review: ESET Smart Security 7

If you are looking for an all-in-one security package that gives Microsoft's basic protection a run for its money, you might want to consider ESET's Smart Security 7.

eset_logo.jpg
Despite Microsoft's recent moves to bake in a rather competent Defender anti-virus and anti-malware solution right into Windows 8, third-party security software vendors believe that they have nothing to fear quite yet, since they can tout more comprehensive scans and heuristic analysis. One of these products called ESET NOD32 is one of my personal favorites amongst commercial antivirus software, particularly due to its efficient use of system resources. In October 2013, ESET released a new version of their full featured security suite, Smart Security 7.


Product Information

  • Title: Smart Security 7
  • Company: ESET
  • Supported OS: Windows XP, Vista, 7, and 8.x

Smart Security 7

From first installation to first startup, the entire setup experience is fast and easy, with no annoying nags for toolbar installations to be seen anywhere (which is something you would hope to expect from paid software anyway). The main interface itself is by far one of the most straightforward and simple, with all the options available within a quick mouse click or two, and not having to rummage through a plethora of pop up dialog boxes.

ESET_1.png

On my first scan, I elected to choose the Quick Scan mode first to see how long it would take on my Windows 8.1 test machine. Within about four minutes, it covered all the memory space and essential operating system files that were loaded at the time with no incident. Shortly thereafter, Smart Security offered to perform a more detailed custom scan, which you can run at your leisure. If such a scan is likely to take a while, Smart Security includes options to either shut down or reboot the host machine. If you are working on something at the time a shut down or reboot is about to be initiated, you are given a 30 second grace period to save your work or cancel the operation as deemed necessary.

ESET_2.png

ESET engineering hard at work

Real-time protection

As far as the background real-time protection goes, I noticed hardly any performance penalty when running all of my regular software programs. ESET has done a great job leveraging aggressive resource management, ensuring that any incognito scans don't impede on whatever the user is working on at the time. Smart Security offers a feature called HIPS or Host-based Intrusion Prevention System, which serves as something of a guardian angel, watching to see if any rogue processes surface during day-to-day operation and puts a stop before any malicious deed is taken. In certain resource-starved systems, HIPS can potentially add some drag to performance, and it can be easily disabled via the Settings area if need be.

If your system is in use by children, or you wish to prevent employees from looking up smut at work, the parental control area allows you to set up basic web and email filtering in order to prevent unsuitable content from being viewed by others. Although I applaud ESET for thinking of the children, I find local, software-based web filtering to be woefully inadequate and easy to override if account security isn't locked down tightly. A better alternative would be to use a network-wide filtering service like OpenDNS, which is administered from the router and not on a local PC.

ESET_3.png

Traverse the wrong path online, and you shall encounter this.

Finally, in what seems to be a newcomer to the ESET toolkit, is the inclusion of a free anti-theft option, which can be activated after Smart Security is installed and run for the first time. It touts the ability to utilize your PC's webcam and GPS hardware, in an effort to photograph and track the thief. Although the gesture by ESET is much appreciated, most software-based anti-theft can be worked around, simply by booting off other media and wiping the main hard drive. Therefore, ESET Anti-Theft is likely to help when dealing with less tech-savvy criminals.

Bottom line

So is ESET Smart Security 7 worth buying at a price of $59.99? The extras bundled on top of the base anti-virus package, like the web filter, social media scanner and anti-theft are nice to have, but the real appeal is the base NOD32 product. Since the aforementioned extras can be replaced by free or cheaper alternatives, like LoJack for anti-theft and OpenDNS for web filtering, which work just as well, if not better than what Smart Security can provide, ESET's NOD32 seems to be a better value proposition at $39.99 a license, with volume discounts available for multi-PC installations. The engine is robust, yet the software will stay out of your way while you work for the most part.

About

An avid technology writer and an IT guru, Matthew is here to help bring the best in software, hardware and the web to the collective consciousness of TechRepublic's readership. In addition to writing for TechRepublic, Matthew currently works as a Cus...

11 comments
Sylvester.Maslang
Sylvester.Maslang

I agree that ESET's GUI is the simplest and most straightforward.  I think ESET 7 now comes with an Exploit Blocker and an Anti-Stealth Technology that can detect even the sophisticated rootkit programs.  The product, so far, has great reviews and consistent of which are its above average detection rate (95%++ AV-Test), descent scan speed, low false positives and minimal use of system resources which makes it  run smoothly in the background without affecting the PC's performance.  The added features (anti-theft, parental control, etc.) does make ESET a comprehensive "all-in-one" security package.

Pats3
Pats3

I'm curious to know if you have ever tested Vipre Internet Security? I ran Eset for a couple of years, but whenever I had a question it was like pulling teeth to get any answers from them. Not being a Techie, I don't understand all the ins and outs, but I am literate and given the directions I can follow them

I found Vipre easy to set up, multiple ways to set up scans  I do "Quick Scans 3 times a week and Deep Scans 4 times.  It is thorough and as far as I can tell keeping me clean and running - no problems at all and if I have questions they get answered, not ignored.

MeezerW
MeezerW

I've used eSet NOD32 for many years across many platforms & recommended it to my clients -- it's the only protection I really trust AND it doesn't take over your machine or eat up the harddrive. 

BEST PART:  If you need them, they are easy to contact and SPEAK ENGLISH. 

Gerbilferrit
Gerbilferrit

@Pats3 Eset support are abit aprupt from my experience too - i left them for Vipre, just before 6 came out - they'd totally messed about with where all the settings were and we were finding compared to previous versions it was beginning to become somehwat of a resource hog on older machines - not something i've experienced with Vipre so far

Matt Nawrocki
Matt Nawrocki

@Michael Kassner I found NOD32 to be one of the most thorough and proactive anti-virus scanners out there, and it kept malware at bay for the most part. I do exercise a healthy dose of common sense whenever I browse on the web and download files, so the chance of infection is slim to none for me anyway.

steveliddle
steveliddle

@Michael Kassner Have been using nod32 for several years, looked at the smart suite, but that was about 5 years ago and noticed a reduction in the frames per second on first person shooter games.


Have been using opendns for probably a bit longer, the nod32 single client is a little over 5k in memory.


Sometimes will be checking out adult entertainment sites, by chance myself and a friend checked out the same site, he was using AVG and managed to install xp anti spyware, took about 4 hours to clean the infection. Nod32 blocked it automatically :)


As for official reports ?


http://www.av-test.org/no_cache/en/tests/test-reports/ try 133185 and 132387


have downloaded the odd malware to this pc, nod32 stopped it well before completion, I do run malwarebytes now and then, but only seems to find installers with optional software installs


They do a 30 day free trial for all products :)

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

@Matt Nawrocki @Michael Kassner 

I know all about the test labs, I have have written about them, in particular NSS Labs. That is why I asked about your testing. I am sorry but your post is speculative, and not conclusive. If you included official test results, it would be more beneficial.

Matt Nawrocki
Matt Nawrocki

@Michael Kassner @Matt NawrockiAlso, if you are looking for a trusted authority on AV testing, I strongly recommend checking out the AV-TEST group. They actually have dedicated labs that test most popular antivirus and security software, making their word on the matter quite authoritative.

http://av-test.org
Matt Nawrocki
Matt Nawrocki

@Michael Kassner @Matt Nawrocki This is through personal experience, as I have owned a copy of NOD32 for quite sometime. For this particular review, I simply installed the Smart Security within a virtual machine and threw an EICAR test script at it and a small malware payload for good measure. Obviously, a virtual machine would allow me to roll back the environment, should an infection actually wreck havoc. I wouldn't run malware on my production PC without properly sandboxing it first.

I will admit that I do not have a comprehensive suite of malware at my disposal to use, but other reviews of ESET software in the wild will back up my rather positive review.


Editor's Picks