Review: Trend Micro Internet Security 2008

In the ongoing game of cat and mouse — security software versus hackers — Trend Micro Internet Security 2008 concentrates this year on catching more malware and spam, scanning faster and making its interface easier to use. Whether you browse Web pages, send and receive e-mail, exchange instant messages, shop and bank online or share digital files, a competent security product such as Trend Micro offers some peace of mind.

Trend Micro AntiVirus plus AntiSpyware 2008 and Trend Micro Internet Security 2008 are both much like last year’s versions with a few enhancements thrown in for good measure. The company has also unveiled a new product in this year’s lineup, Trend Micro Internet Security Pro, which offers the features covered by last year’s TrendSecure services.

Trend Micro’s TrendSecure offered online services that extended security beyond a home PC, such as when you use a public computer or when connected to the internet via a wireless hotspot. The TrendSecure name has vanished, but its functions have mostly been incorporated into Trend Micro Internet Security Pro.

After finally scratching the PC-Cillan name last year, Trend Micro still appears to be in a pattern of shuffling and re-mixing its product line. For the most part, Trend Micro largely continues to shine on its strengths.

Scenes From a “Mal”
For 2008, Trend Micro introduces proactive intrusion blocking technology designed to detect and halt unauthorized and malicious changes to your computer’s operating system and core software. The feature boasts real-time prevention capabilities that adapt to new and emerging threats without having to rely on signatures that have to be constantly updated.

Trend Micro claims that this approach reduces the number of alerts that you have to deal with because it traces changes back to their sources instead of reacting to them. So in use, if a single source makes several changes to your operating system, whether it’s to the registry and key files, this, in theory, only registers as a single alert instead of numerous alerts for each area.

Without formal lab testing, it’s hard to determine whether the approach truly reduces alerts, but customizable security warnings let you decide how often you want to receive security warnings. You can tell the program to inform you of all alerts, to group alerts together, or only occasionally alert you. The end result is that you will hopefully see fewer alerts — always a welcome option.

The company’s Web Threat Protection feature is designed to guard your PC from attacks and goes beyond traditional URL filtering by assessing the safety of each Web page based on its age, content, behavior, and reputation.

The program looks for pages that are associated with malware and determines whether a page is new or has registered with several domains in a short period of time (a potential indication that a site was created for nefarious purposes) and checks for IP addresses of known spammers.

Most ingenious hackers with spam on their minds have moved beyond e-mail messages from so-called Nigerian diplomats with money to give you to now sending image-based spam. As a result, Trend Micro now searches for spam in images as well as text.

A feature that won’t be available until early 2008 will be designed to disable links to untrustworthy Web sites that come via e-mail. Trend Micro customers will automatically receive this update, which has been named “Worry-Free Click.”

Scanning the Globe

Trend Micro Internet Security 2008 scans more efficiently and quickly and consumes fewer computer resources than last year’s edition. In testing on a fast PC, scans were fairly unintrusive, on par with what we experienced when using Norton Internet Security 2008.

The anti-virus and anti-spyware engines have been combined to reduce scanning time. Trend Micro claims that its products scan 30 percent faster than competitive products. When asked, Trend Micro could not tell us the products that it tested against to make this claim.

The company did state the following: “We tested against a number of top-tier security products, but cannot get into specifics. When our independent external testing results are ready, we can share.” Perhaps the marketing hype was touted before the final results were in — basically putting the cart before the horse.

Trend Micro has simplified the program’s installation and setup and now only requires three clicks for installation. Indeed, if you choose not to customize the software, the entire installation can be completed in three clicks, one of which includes your acknowledgement of the software agreement.

One aspect that shortens install time is the fact that there is no pre-scan during installation. If installation can’t be completed due to the presence of pre-existing malware, the program launches a troubleshooting mode and deals with the problem.

Most of the configuration occurs after installation. The interface now features a new “Fix Now” button that provides a clear means to correct problems after an alert has been received.

The TMIS 2008 interface is quite intuitive and it’s easy to configure settings by clicking on buttons along the left-side of the screen that designate virus and spyware control, home network and firewall controls, internet and e-mail controls, and more. Always willing to toot its horn, a new security activity reports tells you what the program has done for you lately and how well it’s protected you.

Maintaining the Good
Trend Micro continues to offers strong protection against viruses, worms, and Trojan horses and secures personal information and privacy against rootkits and spyware. The personal firewall prevents your PC from exchanging data via the Internet without your approval and defends against hacker attacks. The anti-spam feature takes the form of a toolbar in Outlook that allows you to control whitelists from within your e-mail program.

The program competently alerts you to the latest phishing threats that can steal your bank account and credit card information. And parental controls allow you to block web sites and screen for some 20 categories that include: spyware, sex, alcohol/tobacco, gambling, violence/hate/racism, spyware, adware and more.

A good innovative feature that stood out last year but has since been answered by Symantec is the ability to manage, configure, and update the security of every PC in a home network (up to three), as well as block intruders on home wireless networks. This allows you protect up to three computers and scan and update them remotely.

The program secures your personal information by preventing it from being sent over the internet. To accomplish this, the program stores portions of your Social Security Number, home phone number and credit card numbers as a reference.

The program provides adequate context-sensitive help that includes definitions and explanations. Trend Micro also offers free phone, e-mail and chat support in North America.

In terms of differences in product editions, Trend Micro AntiVirus plus AntiSpyware 2008 protects your PC from viruses, spyware, and malware, while Trend Micro Internet Security 2008 and Trend Micro Internet Security Pro add network support, the firewall, phishing protection and abilities to block e-mail and image spam.

The Internet Security Pro edition adds validation for Wi-Fi networks and hotspots, defense against keystroke loggers, the ability to remotely lock folders and files in the event of theft, and features to optimize a PC’s performance and restore Windows after an attack.

With Symantec’s Norton Internet Security 2008 and Microsoft’s Windows OneCare Live both now offering support for up to three PCs in a network, Trend Micro loses some competitive edge. Also, there’s lots to like about Norton’s ability to maintain personal information and passwords. But Trend Micro is still twenty bucks less, which makes it a viable alternative.

Availability and Pricing
Trend Micro Internet Security 2008 has a subscription price of $49.95 that entails protection of up to three PCs for one year. Trend Micro AntiVirus plus AntiSpyware 2008 has a subscription price of $39.95 and protects a single PC for one year. Trend Micro Internet Security Pro has a subscription price of $69.95, with protection for up to three PCs for one year.

Trend Micro Internet Security 2008 requires Windows Vista Home Basic (32/64 bit), Windows Vista Home Premium (32/64 bit), Windows Vista Ultimate (32/64 bit), Windows Vista Business (32/64 bit), Windows XP Professional or Home Edition with Service Pack 1 or 2 (32 bit), Windows XP Media Center Edition 2004 or 2005 (32 bit), or Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2004 or 2005 (32 bit).

Pros: Competitive price, network protection, faster installation
Cons: Competitive marketing claims not substantiated

Adapted from

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