Security for everyone - Reviewing ESET Mobile Security & Antivirus for Android

Rating:
3 out of 5 stars

ESET is one of the most important players in the global security market, a company that is known for its highly efficient antivirus software for Windows devices. But, as mobile devices are increasingly popular, and malware threats are becoming increasingly common, ESET entered the Android world too. Their security app for Android smartphones and tablets is called ESET Mobile Security & Antivirus and it promises to protect you against malware threats and phishing websites, and also help you in case your Android smartphone is lost or stolen. After using and testing this security app for a week, we would like to share everything we found about it, in this review:

What can ESET Mobile Security & Antivirus do for you?

ESET Mobile Security & Antivirus is more than a simple antivirus app for your Android smartphone and other devices. It’s a complete security suite, with a lot of different tools that were all designed to protect your mobile Android devices. ESET Mobile Security & Antivirus is available to download and use for free, in the Google Play Store, here. However, if you want to use all the tools and features it offers, you will have to buy a license from ESET.

Where To Buy

When you buy a license for the full ESET Mobile Security & Antivirus , you get access to the following security features and protection tools:

  • Antivirus - this module protects your Android device against malware, by blocking threats and cleaning or quarantining them. It offers on-demand antivirus scans, as well as a real-time scanning engine.
  • Anti-Theft - protects your Android mobile device from unauthorized access. If you lose your device or if it gets stolen, you can use this feature to do things like locate it using GPS or wipe the data on it remotely.
  • SMS & Call Filter - blocks the SMS text messages and phone calls that you might receive from unwanted people or companies.
  • Anti-Phishing - protects you while you browse the web, by blocking your access to malicious websites that could try to steal data from you.
  • Security Audit - lets you monitor and change settings and permissions for the applications installed on your Android device, in order to prevent any security risks they might involve.

Setti ng up ESET Mobile Security & Antivirus for Android

To be able to test and ultimately write this review, we used one of our test smartphones, a Motorola Nexus 6 running on Android 7 Nougat. Just like for any other Android app, in order to get ESET Mobile Security & Antivirus on your device, you will have to go to the Google Play store and download and install the app.

After the app is installed on your Android device, ESET Mobile Security & Antivirus will ask you to walk through a short setup guide. It will all start with a thank you note you get from ESET and two questions regarding the country you live in and the language in which you want to use the app. You can also opt to receive special offers from ESET - we appreciate the fact that this option is disabled by default.

Then, ESET asks you whether you want to subscribe to their Live Grid system. We recommend that you do that, as this helps ESET’s security products react faster against malware threats.

The final step of the setup guide requires you to choose whether you want ESET Mobile Security & Antivirus to also detect potentially unwanted applications, besides malicious apps. Enabling this option might help you gain a better level of protection against modern day threats, so our recommendation is to enable this feature.

After you complete the initial setup, ESET Mobile Security & Antivirus will load its user interface and it will automatically start a full device antivirus scan.

As you can see in the screenshot above, at first, ESET Mobile Security & Antivirus doesn’t have all its features and tools enabled. Only the ones marked with a green checkmark are on - the others have a small On or Off button displayed on their top right corners. For instance, the Antivirus module is enabled by default, but the Anti-Theft tools aren’t. That’s due to the fact that some of the features/tools require additional configuring. For those, you will have to open and configure them individually.

ESET Mobile Security & Antivirus is easy to download and install. The initial setup wizard will help you configure the basics of the security app. However, we feel that this would have been an even better experience if ESET told the user that he or she must do some additional configurations on his or her Android device in order to enable the anti-theft features too.

Using the Antivirus

ESET Mobile Security & Antivirus has three different antivirus scanning modes, it offers you the ability to schedule automatic scans, and it also includes a real-time antivirus scanning engine.

When you open the Antivirus from ESET Mobile Security & Antivirus , you will be greeted by a green large Scan Device button. By default, tapping this button will launch a Smart antivirus scan. However, if you want to, you can also run a Quick or a Deep level scan. To configure ESET Mobile Security & Antivirus to do that, you will have to use the Scan level setting right beneath Scan Device.

Scanning our Android test smartphone with ESET’s antivirus took only 1 second when we used the Smart scanning profile, and only 3 seconds when using the Deep scan. That’s extremely fast, but you should note that we got these results on a clean Nexus 6 smartphone, with only the default apps installed on it. On your personal Android devices, it’s very likely that any antivirus scan will take a little longer than it took on ours.

One feature that we appreciate in ESET Mobile Security & Antivirus is that it offers you the opportunity to run automatic scans on a schedule, as well as whenever you charge your Android device.

Although both on-demand and scheduled antivirus scans do a good job, they are not enough to offer complete antivirus protection for your Android devices. To be able to say that, you also need a real-time feature and, fortunately, ESET Mobile Security & Antivirus has that covered too. When enabled, which is by default, the real-time scanner launches on the system start and scans all the files you interact with, together with any file you save in the Download folder, all .apk installation files and all the files from your SD card.

Running antivirus on-demand scans with ESET Mobile Security & Antivirus is easy, and the real-time scanner protects you permanently. That’s very good, and things get even better: we appreciate the fact that ESET Mobile Security & Antivirus can run scheduled antivirus scans. On the other hand, we couldn’t find any option to run a custom antivirus scan on a specific folder of our choosing.

Using the Anti-Theft features

By default, the Anti-Theft features offered by ESET Mobile Security & Antivirus are turned off. In order to enable them and be able to do things like locate or wipe the data on your Android device, you will have to do quite a few things:

  • Create a security password that you will use in case you need to lock or unlock your Android device;
  • Enable protection against unwanted uninstallation, which is a likely thing to happen if your Android smartphone or tablet is stolen. To enable this type of protection, you must activate ESET Mobile Security & Antivirus as an administrator on your device.

  • If your smartphone uses a SIM card, ESET Mobile Security & Antivirus will save it as a “Trusted SIM”. In case it is removed or a different SIM card is inserted into your Android smartphone, it will be locked.
  • Tell ESET Mobile Security & Antivirus which of your friends you trust, so that the app can alert them via an SMS text message if an unauthorized SIM card is detected in your Android smartphone.

  • Enter your own contact details (name, email address, alternative phone number). In case you lose your smartphone and someone well-intentioned finds it, he or she can find you and return your smartphone.
  • Enable SMS text commands. These commands are predefined text messages which you can send to your lost or stolen Android device from any phone number, and which will trigger ESET Mobile Security & Antivirus to lock your device, lock and play a sound on your device, find it via GPS, or wipe all your data from that Android device.

After you go through the configuration steps above, ESET Mobile Security & Antivirus will let you know that you can get even more benefits from its Anti-Theft service if you also register an account on my.eset.com. From your online account, which you can access in any web browser, you can see more details about your Android device’s activity, track its location and take camera snapshots (a.k.a mugshots with the person who found or stole your device), automatically lock your device is suspicious activity is detected, send personalized messages to the one who found or stole your Android device, or wipe all the data on it remotely, if you lost any hope of getting your device back.

The anti-theft features and tools offered by ESET Mobile Security & Antivirus are comprehensive to say the least. They work very well and they are definitely going to be useful if you lose your Android smartphone or tablet. Not to mention if someone steals it - in that case you will be very happy to know that none of your personal information will fall into the wrong hands.

Read the second page of this review to learn how effective ESET’s anti-phishing and security audit modules are, as well as its call and text filters. You will also see our verdict about this product.