This section is broken up into four parts: Firewall, Anti-Virus, Anti-Spyware, and Anti-Spam. We use Internet Explorer for all testing.
We use PCFlank's Exploits Test to test the firewall component; detailed test information can be found here. The tests essentially bombard your system and test its reaction to various types of attacks and unexpected packets.
ESET Smart Security 4 successfully defended our test computer from the simulated attacks.
To test the effectiveness of Smart Security I used several virus files from Eicar.org, an IT security website. Please see the test description for extensive information on the tests.
Smart Security went further than any other security suite I have tested -- the download never initiated. Instead the browser actually threw an error, telling me the download was unable to start; Smart Security also showed a system tray popup informing me it had blocked a file.
We use Spycar.org to test the anti-spyware module. It mimics spyware behavior on a computer, detecting whether the anti-spyware component can block or detect it. We run all available tests.
Smart Security again went the extra mile again here, actually causing the browser to throw a download error message since it did not allow downloads to initiate. Smart Security also informed me of everything it blocked with a system tray popup message.
We use the Apache SpamAssassin Project to test the anti-spam filter. I send an email containing the string on the page to a test email account; if it gets blocked, we know the spam filter is working. Mozilla Thunderbird is used as the email client on our test computer.
Smart Security integrated with Thunderbird by default and successfully blocked our test spam emails. It also blocked some custom email addresses I put in a blacklist. Smart Security's anti-spam module has very extensive client support; in addition to Thunderbird, it supports Microsoft Outlook, Outlook Express, Windows Live Mail, Windows Mail, and scans other POP3/IMAP clients.
Smart Security had no perceptible performance impact during everyday use and gaming. Updates occurred seamlessly in the background. At no point was I required to interact with the program.
A small feature I liked about Smart Security was its Trusted Zone Authentication, which allows users to customize their network settings (such as allowing sharing) based on the network. I used different profiles for work and home.
We evaluate the performance impact and system resource usage of using anti-virus software in two ways:
Our test system is an HP Pavilion dv5t.
Overall System Performance Impact Measured with PCMark05
Somehow my laptop actually had better benchmark scores with Smart Security installed ... no complaints here.
Time it took to perform a full system scan
Smart Security took 41 minutes to scan 140GB of data, which is the fastest time I recorded by a significant amount. Between an hour and an hour and a half is a typical time; anything over two hours is considered a long time. The next-fastest suite I tested came in at just over one hour.
ESET Smart Security 4 is the most pro-active protection suite I reviewed. It has the most comprehensive security features I have seen in a product such as an excellent firewall and a very good real-time scanning engine, which together did not even let me initiate downloads of malicious files. Smart Security also has a robust anti-spam module with extensive client support. System scan times were the fastest I recorded thus far, well ahead of competitors. The software had no impact on system performance and had a small installation file.
Smart Security is not without its faults, however. Its most glaring deficiency is the non-inclusion of parental controls, which families may deem essential and could be a deal-breaker.
I have no complaints other than the lack of parental controls; ESET Smart Security 4 is a most impressive security suite and I highly recommend it.
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