ESET Smart Security combines an antivirus tool, firewall and spam filter into a single package that should keep most online dangers locked firmly out of your PC.
The core NOD32 antivirus engine detects and removes incoming threats, now even scanning SSL-encrypted connections like HTTPS and POP3S to find malware that other tools might miss. Its performance is good, and the program makes relatively few demands on your system resources: installing ESET Smart Security won't slow you down.
The firewall works particularly well, effortlessly blocking unsolicited incoming connections and sneaky malware attempts to phone home, without drowning you in alerts. And that's because the program will be default run in an "automatic filtering mode", where it makes all the decisions itself. This makes sense to us, but in the unlikely event of problems you can easily tweak the firewall to run in many different ways: it's highly configurable.
Other features on offer include a decent spam filter, which is more accurate in this release; improved scanning of removable media like USB thumb drives; and less hassle from information pop-ups, which are now hidden when ESET Smart Security detects that you're running a full-screen application.
And the bundled SysInspector and SysRescue tools provide deeper scans of system processes to help identify hidden threats, and create bootable rescue discs to simply the repair of an infected PC.
ESET Smart Security features a capable antivirus tool and impressive firewall, but is short on the identity protection features, browser tools, parental controls and similar functionality that you'll find in competing suites