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I got the most recent ESET Cyber Security Beta for Mac. It offers a mode called “Web Protection” and “Email Protection”.

The documentation don’t really explain what these two modes does, and I’m curious about the potential privacy implications. In a Web browser, the domain name of the sites you are visiting are sent securely to the browser vendor and checked against a list to form what browsers call “fraud/malware protection”. In effect, this means that what you do online is shared with a third party. Is the same happening when using ESET’s functionality?

ESET Consumer Support have, unfortunately, been unwilling to answer questions about what the feature does and how it works.

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  • IMHO, there are overwhelming request on GDPR itself, so many company will skip it. Some company is doing pretty bad on clarify various product privacy stance. I only found this note about their website eset.com/int/privacy
    – mootmoot
    May 28 '18 at 11:50
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They are both passive features. In either case when it detects a file it will scan it, before the file is created on the disk, in theory preventing the malicious file from ever existing on your drive. This is at least how it works on the Windows side. In the case of the Outlook plugin it will scan the file atachements, and in the case of the "Web Protection" it scans files as you download the file, all detection is passive without user ction.

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    Can you share the source for this information?
    – Daniel
    May 14 '12 at 22:26
  • @Daniel - I have used ESET for 2 years. This is my personal experience. I never claimed it was anything but personal experience.
    – Ramhound
    May 15 '12 at 12:19
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ESET, as other antivirus companies, “protect” your Web and e-mail by adding themselves as a trusted certificate authority (CA) into your web browser(s) and e-mail client(s) and then route all your communication through their servers.

This means that they effectively make themselves as a “man in the middle” (MITM — see Man-in-the-middle attack), so your “secure” connection is not secure anymore. It is secure

  • between you and their servers, and
  • between their servers and your target (web or e-mail server),

which means that you give them (securely) all outgoing traffic (personal info, credit cards info, hashes of your passwords, addresses of visited pages, outgoing mails, etc), and they get (securely) all info from all servers visited by you (contents of visited pages and ingoing mails).

It is only on them, antivirus companies, if they collect (and store) those info — or even take advantage of having them. You may trust them or — which is probably better — disable those web and e-mail “protections”.

All present browsers and e-mail clients do those protection (checking for secure connections) themselves.

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