In an increasingly crowded market full of all-in-one security suites, Trend Micro’s Internet Security Pro manages to give users almost everything they could want: low performance impact, detailed parental controls, and even mobile device protection. The only thing missing is a clean user interface, at least compared to sleeker programs like Symantec Norton 360. If you don’t mind a slightly crude design, however, Trend Micro’s package presents very few compromises.
Installation and Setup
Installing the 351MB program on our Toshiba Tecra M10 took a little over three minutes, including unpacking, installation, and activation. We were compelled to register so that we could download updates, which seems unnecessary; other programs, such as Norton 360, didn’t require us to register, or even prompt us. At least we didn’t have to restart our PC, as with ZoneAlarm’s Extreme Security and BitDefender’s Total Security 2010.
The red-and-white tabbed interface is simple; each of the tabs running along the left hand side of the main screen represents a broad category, such as virus and spyware controls or firewall settings. Moreover, each of these tabs has a different color icon. When you click on a tab, you’ll see a bunch of related drop-down menus appear in the open space next to the tabs (in Norton 360, meanwhile, a new screen will open, obscuring the main screen).
Each drop-down menu represents a specific setting (for instance, parental controls or a spam filter for your e-mail client), and you’ll see either a green check mark if it’s turned on, or a red X if it’s disabled. By clicking on a setting’s drop-down menu, you can read an explanation of what that feature is. In some cases, you’ll also see a link to additional settings, which will open in a separate pop-up window. It’s not that the interface isn’t intuitive, but the drop-down arrows and links are less attractive and easy to use than, say, Norton 360’s rollover tabs and check boxes.
In addition to scanning for viruses and malware on your system, Internet Security Pro automatically blocks suspicious files on USB drives, and checks the legitimacy of Wi-Fi hotspots—two features we think users will need on a pretty regular basis. It also blocks URLs that harbor malware, whereas Norton 360, for one, just warns of unsafe sites. It also makes sure that links in e-mail and IMs are safe (it supports AOL, ICQ, Windows Live Messenger, and Yahoo Messenger, but not Google Talk, unfortunately).
Uniquely, users can download software for specific phone models to protect them from spam, viruses, and other threats. If you click on the mobile protection icon in the Pro tools interface, a Web page will open from which you can download software for your phone (you’ll have to select it from a drop-down menu). The list of supported devices is fairly slim: the iPhone didn’t make the cut, nor did any BlackBerrys. The most represented handsets are by Dopod (a brand with which U.S. customers probably aren’t familiar), HTC, and Nokia.
Like other security suites, Internet Security Pro includes a vault, aptly called Trend Micro Vault, which saves and encrypts files in the event that your laptop is stolen. Users can also lock the Trend Micro Vault remotely. Unlike other security suites’ vaults, whose interface is part of the larger program’s, Trend Micro’s vault appears as a separate desktop program. When you open it, though, its interface looks identical to Windows Explorer, complete with navigational menu trees running along the left side.
It’s a familiar interface, but we would have appreciated it if the vault were contained in the suite itself, so that there would be no pop-ups, and every feature could have the same colorful, attractive look. Also, for the sake of ease of use, we wish the interface had fields into which users could enter credit card and other sensitive information, so that they could autocomplete forms online (this also helps fend off keyloggers).
Uniquely, users can remotely lock files in case of computer theft. To do this, go to the Report Stolen service at www.trendmicro.com, and submit the e-mail address and password associated with the Vault.
Although parental controls are becoming a more important ingredient of security programs in general, Trend Micro has already made a name for itself in this area: earlier this year the company partnered with Linksys by Cisco to create routers that allow parents to block certain kinds of sites. That same technology and a similar interface is on display in Internet Security Pro. For starters, parents can forbid access to certain kinds of Web sites, as well as restrict access at certain times during the day (e.g., after 9 p.m. on a school night).
The interface allows parents to simply check off boxes to indicate what kinds of content they don’t want their kids seeing. In addition, parents can specify certain sites they want blocked (black listed) or allowed (white listed). Although we wish the program let parents block desktop applications (such as instant messaging clients), as BitDefender Total Security 2010 does, we warmed to the useful, bulleted definitions of categories. For instance, adult material can include images of swimsuits and “intimate apparel,” among other things.
While parents can’t block or restrict access to individual applications, they can prevent children from giving out sensitive information, such as addresses and phone numbers. You can add your own fields if they’re not already listed, and check boxes to block kids from sharing this information via the chat, e-mail, or the Web. This feature, along with Trend Micro’s detailed explanations of adult content, make Trend Micro’s parental controls more robust than its competitors’, which are mainly concerned with blocking certain kinds of Web sites, and keeping kids off the computer when they should be doing homework.
Before we installed Internet Security Pro, our Toshiba Tecra M10 notebook took 1, 4, 1, and 2 seconds to open Google Picasa 2, Internet Explorer, iTunes, and Microsoft Word. While running a virus scan, this time remained about the same: 3, 4, 1, and 4 seconds, respectively. All were below the average open times of 4, 8, 5, and 6 seconds, respectively.
When Internet Security is running in the background, it automatically pauses for gamers and during movies and presentations. We like that during a scan there’s a progress bar showing the percentage that’s been completed, as well as the elapsed time. You can also check a box allowing the system to shut down when it’s done scanning (a useful feature if you have the program set to run scans at odd hours, when you’re likely not using your PC). Unfortunately, third-party testing suggests Internet Security 3.0’s malware protection isn’t quite as strong as its competitors’: in an independent study, Virus Bulletin found that Trend Micro protects against 91.3 percent of threats, while Symantec scored a much higher 98.7 percent.
Like other security suites, Internet Security Pro offers utilities designed to speed up your PC’s performance. These categories include disk space, privacy (encompassing Internet privacy software histories and instant messaging privacy) startup programs, and system registry. IM messaging privacy, software histories, and startup programs are unchecked by default.
We checked all the above options and performed a tune-up. Afterwards, our notebook’s boot time rose by 17 seconds. Although we’d rather see security software either improve a system’s start time or not affect it either way, this increase is small compared to ZoneAlarm Extreme Security 2010, which caused the boot time to balloon by an unacceptable 49 seconds.
Online Backup and Licenses
Internet Security Pro comes with 2GB online storage, which is typical compared to other $70 security suites, such as Norton 360. You can purchase an unlimited block of storage for $4.95 per month.
Support and Warranty
Internet Security Pro includes free phone, chat, and e-mail support for one year. The support is 24/7, a luxury Trend Micro customers only get if they purchase the Internet Security Pro product, as opposed to a less comprehensive (and less expensive) one. Users can access support with one click from the main menu.
Sure, it’s not the sleekest UI in the world, but when it comes to security suites that protect against threats, back up your stuff, and tune up your computer, Trend Micro’s Internet Security Pro offers a strong package. We especially like this suite’s robust parental controls. At $69.95, it’s much more expensive than McAfee’s Total Protection 2009 ($49.99), but we think Trend Micro’s better interface and feature set is worth the premium. Although it has more pop-ups, we also recommend the Editors’ Choice-winning BitDefender Total Security 2010 suite ($79.95), as it has a better interface and offers stronger malware protection.