Our global research labs drive the development of ESET's unique technology
ESET uses multi-layered technologies that go far beyond the capabilities of basic antivirus. The figure below shows various core ESET technologies and an approximation of when and how they can detect and/or block a threat during its lifecycle in the system.
ESET is the first internet security provider to add a dedicated layer into its solution that protects the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI). ESET UEFI Scanner checks and enforces the security of the pre-boot environment that is compliant with the UEFI specification. It is designed to monitor the integrity of the firmware and in case modification is detected, it notifies the user.
UEFI is a standardized specification of the software interface that exists between a device’s operating system and its firmware, replacing Basic Input/Output System (BIOS) used in computers since mid-1970s. Thanks to its well documented layout, UEFI is easier to analyze and parse thus allowing developers to build extensions for the firmware. However, this opens the door also for malware developers and attackers who can infect the UEFI with their malicious modules.
Detection types range from very specific hashes to ESET DNA Detections, which are complex definitions of malicious behavior and malware characteristics.
While the malicious code can be easily modified or obfuscated by attackers, the behavior of objects cannot be changed so easily and ESET DNA Detections are designed to take advantage of this principle.
We perform deep analysis of the code and extract “genes” that are responsible for its behavior and construct ESET DNA Detections, which are used to assess potentially suspect code, whether found on the disk or in the running process memory.
DNA Detections can identify specific known malware samples, new variants of a known malware family or even previously unseen or unknown malware which contains genes that indicate malicious behavior.
ESET has developed its own in-house machine learning engine, dubbed ESET Augur. It uses the combined power of neural networks (such as deep learning and long short-term memory) and a handpicked group of six classification algorithms. This allows it to generate a consolidated output and help correctly label the incoming sample as clean, potentially unwanted or malicious.
To offer the best detection rates and lowest possible number of false positives, ESET Augur engine is fine-tuned to cooperate with other protective technologies such as DNA, sandbox and memory analysis as well as extraction of behavioral features.
Cloud Malware Protection System
The ESET Cloud Malware Protection System is one of several technologies based on ESET’s LiveGrid® cloud system. Unknown, potentially malicious applications and other possible threats are monitored and submitted to the ESET cloud via the ESET LiveGrid® Feedback System.
The samples collected are subjected to automatic sandboxing and behavioral analysis, which results in the creation of automated detections if malicious characteristics are confirmed. ESET clients learn about these automated detections via the ESET LiveGrid® Reputation System without the need to wait for the next detection engine update.
Reputation & Cache
When inspecting a file or URL, before any scanning takes place, our products check the local cache for known malicious or whitelisted benign objects. This improves scanning performance.
Afterwards, our ESET LiveGrid® Reputation System is queried for the object’s reputation (i.e. whether the object has already been seen elsewhere and classified as malicious). This improves scanning efficiency and enables faster sharing of malware intelligence with our customers.
Applying URL blacklists and checking reputation prevents users from accessing sites with malicious content and/or phishing sites.
Behavioral Detection and Blocking - HIPS
ESET's Host-based Intrusion Prevention System (HIPS) monitors system activity and uses a pre-defined set of rules to recognize suspicious system behavior. When this type of activity is identified, the HIPS self-defense mechanism stops the offending program or process from carrying out potentially harmful activity.
Users can define a custom set of rules to be used instead of the default rule set; however this requires advanced knowledge of applications and operating systems.
Today’s malware is often heavily obfuscated and tries to evade detection as much as possible. To see through this and identify the real behavior hidden underneath the surface, we use in-product sandboxing. With the help of this technology, ESET solutions emulate different components of computer hardware and software to execute a suspicious sample in an isolated virtualized environment.
We use binary translations to keep the in-product sandboxing lightweight and avoid slowing down the machine. We implemented this technology in our solutions in 1995 and have been improving it ever since.
Advanced Memory Scanner
Advanced Memory Scanner is a unique ESET technology which effectively addresses an important issue of modern malware – heavy use of obfuscation and/or encryption. To tackle these issues, Advanced Memory Scanner monitors the behavior of a malicious process and scans it once it decloaks in memory.
Whenever a process makes a system call from a new executable page, Advanced Memory Scanner performs a behavioral code analysis using ESET DNA Detections. Thanks to implementation of smart caching, Advanced Memory Scanner doesn't cause any noticeable deterioration in processing speeds.
Moreover, there is a new trend in advanced malware: some malicious code now operates "in-memory only", without needing persistent components in the ﬁle system (in other words file-less malware) that can be detected conventionally. Only memory scanning can successfully discover such malicious attacks and ESET is ready for this new trend with its Advanced Memory Scanner.
Exploit Blocker monitors typically exploitable applications (browsers, document readers, email clients, Flash, Java, and more) and instead of just aiming at particular CVE identifiers it focuses on exploitation techniques. When triggered, the behavior of the process is analyzed and, if it is considered suspicious, the threat may be blocked immediately on the machine.
While ESET’s scanning engine covers exploits that appear in malformed document files and Network Attack Protection targets the communication level, the Exploit Blocker technology blocks the exploitation process itself. This technology is under constant development, new methods of detection are added regularly to cover new exploitation techniques.
ESET Ransomware Shield is an additional layer protecting users from ransomware. This technology monitors and evaluates all executed applications based on their behavior and reputation. It is designed to detect and block processes that resemble behavior of ransomware.
The technology is activated by default. If ESET Ransomware Shield is triggered by a suspicious action, then the user will be prompted to approve or deny a blocking action. This feature is fine-tuned to offer the highest possible level of ransomware protection together with other ESET technologies including Cloud Malware Protection System, Network Attack Protection and DNA Detections.
Network Attack Protection
Network Attack Protection is an extension of firewall technology and improves detection of known vulnerabilities on the network level. It constitutes another important layer of protection against spreading malware, network-conducted attacks and exploitation of vulnerabilities for which a patch has not yet been released or deployed.
ESET Botnet Protection detects malicious communication used by botnets, and at the same time identifies the offending processes. Any detected malicious communication is blocked and reported to the user.
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