Heightened cybersecurity risks amid COVID-19: ESET or freeware, and what does it mean for our consumer and SOHO customers?

by Alex Teh, CEO at Chillisoft

Microsoft Defender (previously Windows Defender) is currently one of the most widely used antivirus software thanks to the fact that it is pre-embedded since Windows 8 and the wide adoption of Windows 10. Does this mean other consumer or SOHO grade security software like  ESET NOD 32 (EAV) or ESET Internet Security (EIS)     is no longer needed?

With many still recovering from the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, some businesses are looking at ways to tighten up their budgets.  However, cybersecurity is not something that businesses should take lightly. In the latest Q2 2020 ESET Threat Report, remote working and COVID-19 related cyberattacks and web threats were reported to be flourishing.  Recently, New Zealand also saw  highly publicised cases of cyberattacks that involved three large corporations: Fisher and Paykel, Lion Breweries, and the NZ America’s Cup syndicate. Most of these cases started from compromised endpoints due to rapid transition to remote working. It would not be a surprise if those incidents started from phishing attacks. In such scenario, payload with malware such as Bots that can perform tens of thousands of password brute force attempts per minute are often used to compromise non multi-factor protected remote access tools like VPN and RDP. Once the corporate network is compromised, perpetrators will be able to obtain domain passwords, disable any anti-virus, encrypt data and its backup, as well as exfiltrate confidential information from the network. Many of these organisations now face
multiple ransom demands of up to $1.25mil for the decryption key and for not selling their confidential data. Even then, there is no guarantee that the cybercriminals will keep their end of the bargain. Never has it been more important to secure your remote and home workers from cyberattacks.

To answer the question why certain anti-malware products may fail, one must first consider that not all laptops and home desktops are designed to be securely used for remote working. Outdated antivirus, proxy for software updates that only works on the office network, disabled firewall or lack of
multi-factor authentication – it only takes one of these to leave a huge security gap. This is also why we have been a strong advocator of multi-factor
authentication, despite some users find it too troublesome.


Evolving multi-vector attacks require a comprehensive solution that goes beyond an ordinary antivirus. Let’s look at the table below from tests conducted by AV-Comparatives. Microsoft offline and online detection rates of 70.5% & 85.9% were way lower than ESET’s, and there were three times more false alarms. Rubbing salt into the wound, AV-Comparatives also reported that Microsoft Defender used relatively more computing power. 

Table from: https://www.av-comparatives.org/tests/malware-protection-test-march-2020/

What we do need to take into consideration is that the offline protection rates of MSFT Defender are still very poor and the amount of false positives are still high, when you couple that with the fact that the product is still extremely hungry in terms of computer usage, see table below:

Table from: https://www.av-comparatives.org/tests/performance-test-april-2020/

The impact score is an important component when choosing an effective endpoint security software. ESET has an impact score of around seven times lower than Microsoft Defender (lower is better). Choosing ESET is certainly a better bet in this case if you want more out of your machines.

In this AV-Comparatives Performance Test, ESET Internet Security (EIS) received three stars (the highest possible) compared to Microsoft Defender’s one star, which befitted ESET Internet Security (EIS) status as their flagship product for consumers and SOHO.

ESET Internet Security (EIS) is more than an antivirus.  It features anti-phishing and anti-malware technologies, intelligent firewall, network attack protection that protect you against brute force attacks, and host-based intrusion prevention system that can terminate unwanted malicious applications. Learn more about these and other industry-leading features here: https://www.eset.com/nz/home/internet-security/


To support businesses in these difficult times, Chillisoft and ESET are running a 3-month long campaign to reduce the price of a new ESET Internet
Security (EIS) license to approximately the same level of an ESET NOD 32 (EAV) license. With this, we hope our partners and customers are getting all the protection they need to stay secure in today’s ever-evolving threat landscape.

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