ESET unveils native, non-disruptive Windows security application for ARM devices

ESET sees a strong partner play in the re-engineering of their ESET Endpoint Antivirus for Windows to run natively on ARM64 devices, a market which is growing and not well protected. 

Tim Hallisay, Director of Strategic Accounts & Business Development, ESET North America

The market for laptops equipped with ARM processors which can provide full notebook functionality with the back-end connectivity of a smart phone is growing. That also means the threats to these devices will grow as well. Accordingly, cybersecurity software provider ESET has reengineered their ESET Endpoint Antivirus for Windows to run natively on ARM64 devices.  They have also created a native ARM build of ESET Management Agent, to facilitate management of ARM-based Windows devices with the ESET PROTECT console.

“What’s happening now is somewhat new, because while there have been ARM chips in notebooks before, they were more of a mobile style chip, rather than a true laptop chip,” said Tim Hallisay, Director of Strategic Accounts & Business Development at ESET North America. “Qualcomm says what’s coming out now is significantly different, and much more powerful, with 5G. It’s for a new generation of laptop, where you have a Windows laptop running a Windows OS but behaving like a phone. It’s the merging of a fully featured laptop with back- end connectivity and all-day battery life.”

ESET works directly with Qualcomm, and Hallisay indicated ESET became involved in this project through initial contact with a channel rep who had a friend at Qualcomm. The engineering task here wasn’t the same as with Apple’s M1 ARM-baed platform, where the issues were more significant because there was a malicious code for ARM attacks for that platform.

“The challenge with this Windows-based ARM is more about compiling and testing,” Hallisay said. “Our core platform has seven different defense layers and we wanted to create the same ultra-aggressive level of tools for ARM. The goal was to assure how our engine and these tools would work on ARM. To do that, its really a ‘compile, task and fix’ process.”

“We are also releasing this with native ARM functionality in the product, not an emulated function,” he emphasized.

The plan is to expand ESET’s ARM support beyond Windows as well.

“We are working on native ARM Mac products, and we are even looking at the effect that his will have on the Linux market,” Hallisay noted.

ESET sells entirely through channel partners, and Hallisay indicated that this Windows ARM security should be something partners can adopt seamlessly.

“It’s not like this is a new widget,” he said. “Those are what have early adopter concerns from partners, where it involved learning a new platform and the costs of training people. But this isn’t a new widget. The partners will still be selling Windows boxes, software and services, and this won’t be changing that.”

On the other hand, Hallisay said this offering has all the earmarks of a simple but differentiated offering that partners like.

“This is a significant opportunity for partners,’ he emphasized. “I spent 20 years working with partners from tiny to massive. Partners want new things they can offer to entice customers, which will be attractive for them to sell. This will appeal to segments who want an ultra mobile connected and powerful Windows devices. I can think of multiple examples in the SLED market.”

Endpoint Antivirus for Windows ARM devices is presently in beta.