Antivirus protection in this suite is precisely the same as what you get with ESET NOD32 Antivirus 8, so I'll just summarize here. Read the antivirus review for full details.
ESET's technology gets high marks from almost all of the independent labs. It's one of just a handful that participated in all 12 of the last 12 tests by Virus Bulletin and received VB100 certification every time. It got the top rating in tests by AV-Comparatives and Dennis Technology Labs. Only AV-Test Institute gave it a so-so rating.
ESET didn't fare nearly as well in my own hands-on malware blocking test. I run this test mostly to get real-world experience of how each product handles malware attack, but I still like to see a good score. ESET scored 7.3 of 10 possible points, almost the lowest among products tested with my current sample set.
On the other hand, it did an extremely good job of blocking downloads from newly-discovered malicious URLs. It blocked 81 percent of the downloads, some by blocking all access to the URL and others by halting the download. With 85 percent blocking, McAfee Internet Security 2015 is the only product that's done better.
Other Shared Features
ESET's social media scan will check that you've got your Facebook and Twitter accounts configured for maximum privacy. Of course, if you want the public to see your tweets, maximum Twitter privacy may not be quite what you want. The scanner includes links to each service's privacy settings. That's handy, but a similar feature in Trend Micro Internet Security 2015 lets you fix issues with a single click.
Bitdefender Internet Security 2015, Kaspersky Internet Security (2015), and Webroot SecureAnywhere Internet Security Plus (2014) are among the few products that have outperformed Norton in my antiphishing test. ESET's phishing detection rate lagged 53 percentage points behind Norton, 49 percent behind Chrome, and 45 percent behind Firefox. Don't rely on ESET for phishing protection.
Both the antivirus and the suite include a collection of tools that, for the most part, are aimed at techies, not at average users. The suite adds one more tool, Network Connections, that's definitely for the experts.
McAfee and Panda both include firewall protection in their standalone antivirus products. ESET reserves that protection for the full security suite. In my testing, the firewall stealthed all ports and resisted my Web-based attacks, in some cases popping up a notification that it blocked a port scan attack.
By default, it takes care of assigning network permissions to programs. I found that in this mode, programs not specifically identified as good or bad were allowed access. For testing, I put the firewall into its interactive mode. In this mode it asked me what to do when it encountered an unknown program attempting network access.
However, it also popped up queries for a number of very common Windows components, among them Windows Explorer, Internet Explore, svshost.exe, and rundll32.exe. In each case the popup reported "Reputation: Not Available." Still in interactive mode, it caught some, but not all, of the leak test programs I threw at it.
I tried attacking the firewall using techniques available to malware coders. I couldn't turn it off in the Registry, because its entries are protected against change. Likewise I couldn't stop or disable its single Windows service. When I tried to kill its process using Task Manager, it popped up a box asking if I wanted to quit, which is sufficient protection against an automated attack.
Exploits attack specific vulnerabilities in very precise versions of Windows, browsers, and other popular programs. If you keep all your programs up to date, you should be safe from most exploits. However, I like a firewall that detects and blocks exploits even when the system isn't vulnerable. If a website is attacking me, I want to know about it!
When I hit ESET with about 30 exploits generated by the CORE Impact penetration tool, it did pretty well, especially against exploits targeting Internet Explorer and Java. It actively blocked over 60 percent of the exploits, identifying about a third of them by name. McAfee only detected 35 percent, and Trend Micro only 44 percent. Masterful exploit killerSymantec Norton Security blocked every single one, identifying a quarter of them by name.
ESET's firewall is solid, though it doesn't have the built-in intelligence that Norton and Kaspersky use for handling unknown programs.
Note: These sub-ratings contribute to a product's overall star rating, as do other factors, including ease of use in real-world testing, bonus features, and overall integration of features.