Although its relatively high price and a small ding in its performance put it out of contention for our top spot, ESET Internet Security provides solid protection. Its features will appeal to experienced computer users and it offers a high level of transparency about its data handling.
- Very clear interface
- Particularly intelligent firewall
- Clear data handling options
- Lower protection rating than Windows Defender in one test
- Review Price: £40
- Clients for Windows
- One device
- Webcam protection
- Silent detection mode
- Parental controls
What is ESET Internet Security?
ESET is a well-established name in the world of antivirus software, although it’s best known for its business anti-malware suites.
If you buy directly from ESET’s website, ESET Internet Security costs £40. If you want pure antivirus without the sandboxed browser and network security checking tools, you can get ESET NOD32 Antivirus for £29.99 per year, while ESET Smart Security Premium comes in at £49.99 and adds a password manager and file encryption utility.
All these prices are for a single device for one year, making it one of the most expensive consumer anti-malware products around. You’re also unlikely to find significantly cheaper retail editions, but there are no hidden costs or price hikes for renewals.
ESET Internet Security – Features, set-up and usability
At install time, ESET gives you unusually granular control over what information it sends back. You can also enable the detection of potentially unwanted programs that, while not strictly malware, may adversely affect the performance or behaviour of your system.
When you first open it, ESET Internet Security also offers to activate two of its extra utilities: parental controls to filter out potentially inappropriate online content and track the activity of specific user accounts, and anti-theft device tracking. You’ll need an ESET online account to use the latter.
Unlike most of its rivals, ESET detected that our network was defined as public within Windows and disabled its integrated firewall at install time so as to avoid knocking out our network connection. Instead, it prompted us to create appropriate rules before activating its firewall, for example to allow our RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) connection through.
The firewall interface makes it easy to set rules and configure zones, and has learning and interactive modes that allow you to create rules as you go, but it sticks with industry-standard language and interfaces, rather than the per-application model used by many consumer anti-malware suites.
Other tools include a secure browser to help protect your online banking activities, a connected home network monitor to scan and inform you of any potential vulnerabilities, webcam protection, and a silent and performance-optimised gamer mode.
ESET’s core antivirus features include real-time and on-demand scans, as well as scheduled scans – hidden in the More Tools section of the Tools tab. You’ll also find system monitoring and optimisation tools here. A rescue disk image is available for anyone to download for free from ESET’s site, but isn’t built into the ESET client.
Related: Best Antivirus 2019
ESET Internet Security – Performance
|Testing facility||AV-TEST||AV-Comparatives||SE Labs|
|Real-World Threat Protection||N/A||98.3%||100|
Unfortunately, ESET’s antivirus engine isn’t as widely tested as some rivals, so we’re having to rely on two sets of high-quality results from SE Labs and AV-Comparatives. ESET got a perfect score in the SE Labs real-world live malware exposure tests and protected against all threats, with no misidentification of legitimate software.
However, in AV-Comparatives’ real-world tests, it only protected against 98.3% of threats, compared to Windows Defender’s 100%, although it did much better than Defender on the false positives front, with only a single misidentification.
Should I buy ESET Internet Security?
ESET Internet Security offers excellent performance and a high degree of control over how it operates, and offers buyers extras like parental controls and device tracking.
ESET has the smartest firewall we’ve encountered during these tests and its features and options are quiet, capable and easy to work with. However, it’s more expensive than most of its rivals, and doesn’t come with extras such as a VPN service, password manager or cloud backups.
There’s no getting around the fact that it’s pricey, and while you do largely get what you pay for, some may not want (or be able to) shell out for this.
Although ESET Internet Security commands a relatively high price makes it hard to recommend for everyone, you get solid protection and access to a lot of highly configurable features.