Based in Bratislava, ESET was founded by a group of friends about 25 years ago to sell its NOD antivirus software. Today it has a comprehensive product portfolio covering all major platforms and is used by 100 million customers worldwide.
What is ESET NOD32?
ESET NOD32 Antivirus is an essential product of the company. It is much more focused on the main anti-virus task than on some competitors – there is no file shredder, password manager or other additional bonuses, but this does not mean that the package is not enough for the function. In any case, he has more than most.
Of course, real-time malware protection. The cloud-based reputation support service helps you quickly detect the latest malware, while the anti-fidget module detects and blocks fraud sites.
The Device Control module limits the risk of infection by other devices, controlling access to USB drives, external hard drives, optical media, even devices connected via Bluetooth and FireWire.
New features include a UEFI scanner to check for malware in the firmware of your PC. There are new tools for managing ESET licenses, and the referral program gives you an extension in a trial license for everyone they can install and run the software.
If all this power is not enough, you can customize the way the package works using more than 150 profile settings.
ESET NOD32 priced at $ 39 (£ 30) per computer, licensed for one year. This is pretty typical for a premium package – Bitdefender?s Antivirus Plus costs the same – but deals are a little better. Currently, Kaspersky Antivirus is $ 29.25 (£ 22.50) for the first year and $ 32.50 (£ 25) for renewal.
If you have several systems to protect, steep discounting makes ESET much better. For example, four computers with a three-year license cost only $ 130 ($ 100) or $ 10.83 ($ 8.33) for the device year.
ESET NOD32 is available in a 30-day free trial. We had to provide our email address to activate it, but otherwise, the installation went smoothly by downloading and installing the main package of ESET NOD32, automatically updating itself and performing the initial scan.
Checking the installed files did not show big surprises. They were well organized and digitally signed, captured a reasonable 650 MB of hard disk space, and the core of the package added only a couple of processes to our test system, using only 100 MB of RAM as a whole during downtime.
If you prefer to fine-tune your security, you can spend some time viewing ESET NOD32 settings, which give you a massive amount of settings and tweaks.
Even if it sounds like a low-level trick that you will never use, don’t completely ignore it. If an odd error or conflict causes a serious ESET NOD32 problem on your system, the ability to apply system settings like this may be the key to troubleshooting or even fixing the problem.
The ESET NOD32 interface looks a bit cluttered, at least initially, with all the status information, buttons, sidebars, links, etc. It takes some time to learn the basics, for example, that clicking Computer Scan takes you to the Scan ?and waits for you to decide what to do, and when you click Scan Computer, it starts the scan immediately.
As soon as you figure out the rules, the program works just like any other antivirus. You can run a general scan with a click or perform a quick or removable disk scan. There is also a powerful option to create custom scan types that examine your chosen locations and use the scan rules you prefer.
This flexibility continues almost wherever you look. Right-click a file in Explorer and ESET NOD32, like everyone else, gives you the ability to scan it in the usual way. But you can also check the file’s reputation to learn more about it; browse the file without cleaning it to get an immediate verdict; or manually quarantining a record, even if it was not flagged as malware, a handy way to securely archive the file you are worried about.
Regardless of which scan method we chose, the scan time was quick, especially after the first launch, when ESET Smart Scan ensures that only modified or new files will be checked. The detection rates were reasonable, as the program collected all our selective threats and did not cause false positives.
URL filtering only found the average number of malicious URLs, as we saw in previous reviews. There was a significant improvement in false alerts, though, with the package again not to warn us about one legitimate website.
The Device Control feature allows you to determine what happens when users connect many types of devices to the system: external storage, USB printer, Bluetooth device, scanner, smart card reader, modems, and more. Options include creating read-only devices, displaying warnings to users, or blocking them entirely. The rules can be applied to all or specific machines (?block all USB drives separately from x, y, z?), some or all user accounts, and the system registers all connections to the device for later analysis.
ESET has proven its accuracy in our tests for the rapid detection of malware, but to get a complete picture of its effectiveness, we also tested ESET ratings with the leading test labs.
AV-Comparatives’ annual real-time protection tests usually set ESET in the lower middle range of the test suite: not very, but not bad, just somewhere in the middle. The September 2018 report ranked ESET as 12th out of 18, for example, with a protection level of 98.5%. The February-June review of the five tests also posted the ESET 12th, with an average degree of protection of 99.1%.
AV-Test reported similar low or medium-range results in the past, but the company has not tested ESET products since 2017.
The SE Labs home malware report for July-September 2018 gives the best results for ESET, with the company taking the third place out of 13, outside Kaspersky and Norton, but exceeding Avira, Trend Micro, Avast, McAfee, and others.
The test laboratories clearly present several ideas about ESET – which is not surprising, since each laboratory has its methods and scoring procedures, but the general picture is that it does not provide better protection or worse, but sits somewhere in the middle of a package.
We suspect that this opinion may underestimate the ability of ESET NOD32, especially for advanced users. Laboratories mainly test anti-virus packages with default settings, but if you are able and willing to configure more advanced ESET features ? for example, a robust Device Control, then you should further improve your security.
Beginners can use ESET NOD32, but its primary value is experienced users, who will appreciate its advanced features and low-level configuration.