CNET logo Why You Can Trust CNET

Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement

Eset Smart Security 3 review: Eset Smart Security 3

Eset Smart Security 3

Robert Vamosi Former Editor
As CNET's former resident security expert, Robert Vamosi has been interviewed on the BBC, CNN, MSNBC, and other outlets to share his knowledge about the latest online threats and to offer advice on personal and corporate security.
Robert Vamosi
4 min read

Although it includes personal firewall, antispam, antispyware in addition to antivirus protection, Eset Smart Security doesn't necessarily compare one-to-one with the Internet Security suites we reviewed this year. However, it is clearly designed to be something more than just Eset's antivirus product: NOD32 already provides that. In performance and effectiveness testing, Eset Smart Security rises to the top of the heap, but those looking to add anitphishing and other features common in Internet Security suites today will have to do just that--add them. However, those looking for best of breed antivirus, antispyware, antispam, and a personal firewall will be pleased with Eset Smart Security.


Eset Smart Security 3

The Good

Eset Smart Security 3 is fast and effective against malicious software.

The Bad

Eset Smart Security 3 lacks antiphishing and some features found in other Internet Security suite offerings.

The Bottom Line

Eset Smart Security 3 offers best of breed antimalicious software protection without a lot of extras.

Setup and interface
Smart Security is among the few security products that still supports Windows 2000 and XP as well as Windows Vista. Eset also provides a fully functional 30-day trial from Download.com.

Like NOD32, the Smart Security interface feels right. There are two versions of the interface: standard and advanced. The left-hand column features Protection Status, Computer scan, Update, Setup, Tools (in Advanced mode only), and Help. The right windowpane is reserved for the active feature in use. In Advanced mode, across the top is a toolbar to access the more advanced configuration options. At first glance, the interface is easy for anyone new to desktop security protection. However, digging deeper we were happy to find all the advanced tweaks that anyone could ask for within reach. Symantec has gone in the opposite direction, making all the tools simple to enable and disable, but Eset has left a number of intermediate options available to more advanced users.

Should you need to remove Smart Security from your computer, there is an uninstall option. After a reboot, we found almost no evidence of the product on our machine.

With Smart Security, Eset builds on the solid base of its NOD32 antivirus product, adding a personal firewall and antispam protection. Compared with other Internet Security suites on the market, this may seem lightweight, but the individual quality of these extra features makes up for the quantity seen in other suites.

Eset continues to improve on its ThreatSense technology, allowing Eset Smart Security to be proactive, yet use very few system resources. We like that during a scan you can either manually toggle the scan to the foreground or push it into the background.

As with Panda Internet Security 2009, we liked the granularity of the personal firewall, giving users the capability to monitor specific services as they access the Web.

The personal firewall was easy to configure. The default settings will be welcomed by beginners, and advanced users will like the filtering options. The same can be said for the antispam settings. Missing are the additional features found on other Internet Security suites, such as secure utilities to remove browser cache contents, to identify online phishing, and to back up data in case of disaster. While this is a serious drawback for some users, those wanting a solid core of Internet protection tools will be pleased with Eset's package.

Eset Smart Security did well in CNET Labs' performance tests and very well in third-party, independent antivirus testing using live viruses. On our iTunes test, Smart Security came in at 271 seconds, 2 seconds above our test system. On our Microsoft Office test, Smart Security was fast at 1,433 seconds. For individual file scans, Smart Security came in fast at an amazing 175 seconds. And in boot speed, Smart Security again came in at a respectable 34 seconds. To find out how we test, see CNET Labs' How we test antivirus page.

In terms of protecting your PC, we refer readers to leading independent antivirus testing organizations. At AV-Comparatives.org, in on-demand tests, NOD32 found 97.7 percent of the malicious software and earned an Advanced + (highest) rating. And in Retrospective/ProActive tests, NOD32 found 71 percent and earned an Advanced + (highest) rating. At AV-test.org, Eset Smart Security 3 earned a respectable 94 percent in both malicious software and spyware prevention. It also earned high marks for its lack of false positives, fast scan speed, and proactive detection. Finally, Eset Smart Security was one of four products to earn CheckVir.com's Advanced rating.

NOD32 provides extensive, context-sensitive help files. For example, if you are on the Actions tab and you click Help, Smart Security takes you to the Actions tab definition page within Help. It's a small touch, but other than in Kaspersky, we haven't seen it offered in other security software. On its Web site, Eset provides a fairly thorough PDF-file manual for download, plus online FAQs for Smart Security, links to an active user forum dedicated to the software, and a Web form for contacting Eset customer support. While Eset offers live telephone support, the call is not toll free and is available only weekdays from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT.

Missing from Eset Smart Security are the additional features found on other Internet Security suites, such as secure utilities to remove browser cache contents, to identify online phishing, and to backup data in case of disaster. While this is a serious drawback for some, those wanting a solid core of basic Internet protection tools will be pleased with Eset's package.


Eset Smart Security 3

Score Breakdown

Setup 8Features 7Performance 8Support 8