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ESET Smart Security 8

All in one protection for your digital lifestyle

Since most of our computing life is spent online these days, it’s imperative that we are protected as much as possible from threats that can perform malicious damage to our systems. And not only that, we need to definitely be aware that malicious programs exist for the purposes of stealing our data, for taking control of our systems without our knowing, and, in the worst-case scenario, for stealing our identity.

Indeed, the threats we face online are varied and they can come from anywhere. The best way we can protect ourselves from harm while connected to the online world is to make sure we have an up-to-date and technologically advanced security suite installed. We need a suite that not only includes antivirus capabilities, but also one that can offer us extra features so that we can actively protect ourselves in other ways.

Going beyond antivirus: Smart Security 8

  • Antivirus and
    Anti-Phishing
  • Anti-Theft
  • Personal Firewall

ESET has just announced its key products for 2015: Smart Security 8 and NOD32 Antivirus 8. If you just want a virus scanner for your computer, then NOD32 is your top choice. However, if you want complete protection, then Smart Security 8 is the product you should consider.

Smart Security 8 is a product that extends its protection beyond antivirus and ensures that we are protected from phishing attempts, and even from the theft of our devices. ESET used feedback from its customers and fans to help shape the product, but the overall philosophy that the company holds is true of the end result. That philosophy is to have a solid antivirus foundation with multiple layers of security built on it.

As an all-in one suite, Smart Security 8 includes technology from ESET’s super-advanced NOD32 Antivirus 8 at its helm, which offers real-time protection against viruses, as well as a few new capabilities that are designed to keep pace with the modern threats that are continually being introduced in the malware space: Enhanced Exploit Blocker, Advanced Memory Scanner, and an Anti-Phishing module.

Detecting exploits, bot activity, and other nasties

With Enhanced Exploit Blocker, Smart Security 8 aims to detect vulnerabilities that can be found in some of the most common software that’s in use on most Windows computers, including Adobe Reader, Microsoft Excel, and Microsoft Word. But the big thing is that it can also detect vulnerabilities in Java. Smart Security 8 looks for indicators that the software has been compromised, and these indicators are generally behaviours that are not usual for what the software is known to do. If it’s deemed to be malicious, the Exploit Blocker nabs it.

Working hand in hand with the Exploit Blocker feature is the Advanced Memory Scanner. This is another line of defence that works to detect malware that has been encrypted or made to be otherwise very difficult to detect. This includes malware that has been designed to steal banking information, or to provide remote access to computers. The Advanced Memory Scanner can monitor programs once they uncloak themselves in your PC’s memory. If they are found to be malicious? You guessed it; it nabs them, too.

To protect against phishing (a technique where illegitimate sites are made to look like legitimate ones in order to steal our information), Smart Security 8 includes some updates that can block not only known phishing sites, but also sites that are deemed to exist only to scam us.

It does this in a couple of ways: it can compare URLs to a blacklist, and it can also analyse the structure of a Web site to determine if it’s trying to mimic a legitimate site. Sites found to be for phishing will be blocked and a warning message will be displayed. Furthermore, there is an improved user submission method so that the service’s list of suspicious sites is always up to date and accurate.

ESET has also introduced Botnet Protection in Smart Security 8. This is important because instances of remote attacks on individual computers have been shown to be rising. The purpose of botnets is to infect many computers in order to create a network of computers that can then be controlled for malicious purposes, such as sending spam, for example. ESET’s Botnet Protection can detect irregular network communications patterns that leave a network, and it will thwart them if it identifies that they are common to botnet activity and headed towards a blacklisted site.

Complete security without a performance hit

These are just some of the ways that ESET’s Smart Suite 8 can help protect us while we are online. We don’t really see a lot of this stuff in the interface of the software, but rest assured it’s there under the hood, working away while we’re working away. At the same time, it won’t take up noticeable resources while it does so, which means that system performance won’t take a hit.

Other features of ESET’s Smart Security 8 include a social media scanner that can scan Facebook and Twitter profiles and determine actions that need to be taken to make them more secure; there is Anti-Stealth technology built-in, which can detect rootkits and other dangerous programs that can hide in an operating system; there is a personal firewall that can further enhance protection while a laptop is connected to hotspots and other public Internet spaces.

Additionally, there is an Anti-Theft feature that can be used for tracking and locating laptops. For Anti-Theft to work, a laptop needs to be registered with ESET’s Anti-Theft system. In case of loss or theft, this service can be used to activate cameras, take screen shots, and to see a device’s location.

There are parental controls for setting up a safe browsing environment, and this works based on age and subject categories. Illicit sites, obscene sites, even social networking and shopping sites can all be blocked according to the user age that has been selected. It’s also customisable, so you don’t have to go with the program’s defaults.

For gamers, there is a gamer mode that can be invoked at any time. This ensures that the security suite won’t all of a sudden interrupt a gaming session with pop-ups, and that CPU usage from the suite remains low. It will still protect the system in the background, it just won’t require any user interaction. It’s also a good feature for business users, as it can be used during times when presentations need to be given to clients, for example.

Bottom Line

It’s obvious that there is a lot to ESET’s Smart Security 8 suite, but the program itself is not complicated to use. Its interface offers a simplicity that doesn’t put too many features in the face of the user. It can offer real-time protection against not only infected programs, but also against sites that attempt to steal data in the form of phishing, and this means it’s an essential program for any computer that will be connected to the Internet.

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