It’s no surprise that in a world of internet connected technology there are people out there looking to steal or hack your devices. Since the beginning of the internet there have been millions of different types of malware created, just waiting to infect your PC. As our world moves into the mobile era, should we begin protecting our smartphones as well?
Smartphones today are holding a gold mine of personal data just waiting for a hacker to steal. There are contacts, banking info, passwords, payment options, logins, etc. that are all stored on our smartphones, which begs the question how worried would you be if you lost your phone? Over 80% of the smartphone market are Android devices and with nearly everybody in the United States owning a smartphone or Android device, security has become an even bigger issue.
You may recall almost a year ago our very first review on TSF, the ESET Mobile Security App for Android. Well, one year later and ESET has done it once again by releasing version 2.0 and adding in a whole new UI along with easier and more useful features.
Throughout my review of the ESET Mobile Security 2.0 App for Android I will be covering the background, features, User Interface and performance, antivirus protection and my overall thoughts. I would like to thank ESET for providing me with the application.
With already 1 – 5 million installs, the antivirus (AV) performs well compared with the other available AVs on the Google Play Store. There is also a four and a half star rating from over 70,000 people.
Similar to my last review, I will be testing the AV on my Samsung Galaxy S III running Android 4.3 (Verizon Model) and running the application with version 2.0.853.0-0.
Next we have the availability of the AV. It can currently run on Android 2.3 and higher but blocks installations on rooted devices. The last version was also available on Windows Mobile 6.0 but it seems that ESET has moved to Android users only. When it comes to iOS, however, Apple has blocked app creators and companies from creating antiviruses for their devices; which is a shame since even iOS devices can be hacked or infected with malware.
Finally there is pricing. There are many free options for AVs on the Google Play Store, but they are either limited in their functionality or do not provide the top notch protection that ESET has to offer. After a 30 day free trial, pricing begins at $19.95 per year which may seem expensive since there are cheaper alternatives but there have been new reports of malware bypassing Google’s scanning process.
As in the previous version, the 2.0 version is filled with many useful and secure features. The mobile security app does more than just protect against malware, as it includes an anti-theft system, SMS and call filter, anti-phishing support, and security audit.
First off, we have the whole reason behind this application, the antivirus. With three scanning modes from Smart, Quick, or Deep, the modes can help find malware quickly and remove it securely. ESET tests Android phones with malware installed to study the behavior. With the Smart scan, ESET designs the AV to search in known malware locations. There is also the new addition of scheduled scans. A feature I wanted to see in the previous version, scheduled scanning allows you to select certain days and time that ESET can scan the device. Built into the AV is Real-time Protection that scans downloads and installing apps, ESET Live Grid which checks installed applications with ESET, and the ability to detect potentially unwanted/unsafe applications. Finally, there’s the ability to now leave the application while it scans in the background as it was an annoyance in the last version.
Moving on, we have the anti-theft section. After typing in your ESET password, that you will need to setup, you can gain access to manage the anti-theft settings. Here you can add trusted contacts that have the ability to find your lost phone. With the SMS Text Commands enabled, trusted contacts can text message your phone and either have it lock, play a siren, locate, or wipe the device. These commands do require the contact to have your password. Your phone will send a reply text message stating whether or not the message was confirmed. While testing this I did find that the commands are case sensitive, which is something to keep in mind.
Next we have the SMS and Call Filter. How many advertising messages or calls do you receive? Or is somebody messaging you when you don’t want them to? Well, with the SMS and Call filter you can choose to have ESET block either incoming calls or messages. Another positive is that the feature can also be configured to block calls from unknown or hidden numbers. You can even choose to filter outgoing calls.
A new edition to the security application is support for anti-phishing in your phone’s browser. Phishing is when malicious websites attempt to steal your personal information, and there are hundreds if not thousands of websites that have hidden plugins that steal data as you type it in; this could be anything from your name to banking details. What’s even worse is that phishing websites can also spread malware to your device. With certain types of browsers supported, the anti-phishing connects you to ESET’s database to make sure that the content you’re viewing is safe and secure. It should be noted that anti-phishing is turned off for private browsing modes.
Finally, we come to the security audit. Changing very little from the previous edition, the audit monitors your applications, letting you know what they are up to. As the device is running it checks your WiFi connection, memory usage, data roaming, call roaming, unknown sources and whether or not debugging mode is running. Furthermore, it informs you which apps are potentially costing you money, tracking your location, reading identity info, and accessing your messages or contacts. This came in handy as I have now removed apps that were reading personal information.
User Interface and Performance
Let me just say that the new user interface of ESET’s Mobile Security is a great leap forward. The layout is clean, easy to read, and just enjoyable overall.
In the old edition, settings were hidden and some features were difficult to find or use, whereas now ESET has simplified the application; each menu has settings right in the section, it’s clearly designed to function with all Android phones, and the color scheme works very well.
Not only has ESET improved how it looks, but they have added full support for Android tablets as well. In the picture above, you can see how landscape mode on a tablet changes the designs. Landscape mode works on your phone too!
One thing you’ll notice when install the app is that it requires full access to your Android device; the UI’s features require this to have full control over and access to all other apps
After installing the application, I came to the conclusion that there was practically no decrease in my phone’s performance. The app takes up a small 10.11MB of storage and while running a scan, everything was very smooth and still functional.
Even with the SMS and Call Filter on, texting and receiving calls did not change in speed. When loading a page, however, I did find it to be a little slower with the anti-phishing feature on, but not slow enough that I would recommend keeping it off. All in all, battery life after having the application installed did not change in any way.
ESET’s sole purpose is to create a powerful and effective antivirus for PCs, Macs, and mobile devices. To ensure their success they must make sure that their products stand up to malware that is created every day, also known as Zero-Day threats.
You may believe that the Google Play Store is malware free. Well, in most cases you’re right. However, Google’s malware scanning process does allow some apps that may have malicious ads to be installed on your device. To test the effectiveness of the security app, I downloaded one of these apps onto my personal device. As the app began to install, ESET started scanning the process. Within seconds, I received a popup stating that the installed application had adware and ESET offering to revert and remove the changes.
To prove even more of the effectiveness of the mobile security application, the 3rd party group, AV-TEST.org, runs hundreds of tests on many different AV programs; for Windows, Android and Mac. This ESET Mobile Security App performed flawlessly receiving a 5 out of 6 on protection. You can take a look at the complete test here.
My final Thoughts
One year later, and I am still happy at how well ESET has changed this application. I found there to be zero bugs, the features are well worth the yearly payment, the security protection is top notch, and overall it’s much improved over the previous edition. All in all, ESET hit the nail right on the head with this one, and I can’t wait to see what another year of changes will bring us. There is a 30 day free trial of the ESET Mobile Security 2.0 on the Google Play Store if you wish to try it out for yourself.
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Tagged android, anti, AntiMalware, Antivirus, ESET, google, malware, mobile, protection, review, security, virus.