Trend Micro Internet Security 2010 provides easy-to-use protection for your home network, identity, and online activities from the present and future web threats. Trend Micro Internet Security protects you and your family against cybercriminals and … see full wiki
Trend Micro Internet Security 2010, As Reviewed By A Computer Security Professional
Feb 18, 2010
Trend Micro Internet Security 2010 is one of the most obnoxious computer security programs I have ever had the misfortune of using. I couldn't get it off my machine fast enough.
[*Note: the help file refers to both 2009 and 2010 as the name of the this product being reviewed, so I am not sure which version actually came on the disk. Most likely it is a hybrid of both.]
Subscription-based paid-to-use "premium" security products are fighting a battle they may not be able to win. Many of the services and features such software products used to solely offer, can now be found for free in the operating system itself, or for free as a downloaded program. Case in point, Trend Micro Internet Security 2010 has a feature to control when Windows user accounts access the internet via a time schedule. Versions of Microsoft Windows, after XP, offer that set of tools for free right in the OS, as "parental controls." They don't work the exact same way, but they are close enough for most parents. In the case of the OS provided controls, the computer itself cannot be used outside of the time limits. In the case of the Trend Micro product, just the internet is disabled outside of the time limits. But, for kids these days, 90% of the time if they want to be on the computer, they want to be online. For the rest of that 10% of the time they need to be typing up school work, that is what parental control overrides are for, should the need arise.
[Note, my comments in square brackets, like these, are optional. You may skip them without missing any important information.]
-------------------------------------------------------------------------- EXECUTIVE REVIEW FOR THE IMPATIENT:
[Note: throughout this review I will be using the word "virus" in quotes. That is because I consider that word to be a media invented label for malicious computer software/code which is used to scare people into behaving irrationally. (I have actually been called out to look at employee PCs to diagnose slowness/lag only to find an insane number of redundant security programs running by people who have been frightened into thinking "viruses" are just lurking around everywhere, trying to get into their computers -- security programs tend to be very resource hungry -- they slow computers down, see the screen shots I am posting with this review). A virus, in biology, is a microorganism you can "catch" if you are exposed to it, no matter what safety precautions you might be taking. A computer "virus" doesn't work the same way. If you practice safe computing practices, your odds of your computer being compromised by malicious computer code (AKA a "virus") are very small. Yes, the bad guys are working on new and improved ways of figuring out how to get their malicious code onto your computer, and they are most certainly getting more inventive. But, the fact still remains that if you take the proper steps and follow the proper procedures, your risk of your computer being compromised is very small. At the end of this review I will list some basic steps you can follow (for free) to secure your computer.]
[Note: the computer used to test this product is a 3.2GHz, dual core processor, with 2GB of RAM, running Windows XP SP3 running Spybot Search & Destroy, and PC Tools' Free Firewall and no other security software]
-------------------------------------------------------------------------- TREND MICRO INTERNET SECURITY 2010: -------------------------------------------------------------------------- INSTALLATION PROCESS:
Unlike Norton 360 and McAfee Family Protection 2010 3-User, which I have also reviewed, this product INSISTS on you removing all other security programs it can detect. The full list can be found here: [...] If you leave them installed and ignore their warnings, the installation program will automatically run their uninstall programs anyway, when it detects them. Among the programs that Trend Micro objects to you having installed: Spybot Search & Destroy, anything from Norton, anything from McAfee, most 3rd party firewall and security suites (although not PC Tools, which I am currently using -- go figure). Norton and McAfee might complain about you having other security software installed, but that is it. Trend Micro will just flat out refuse to install if you refuse to cooperate. See uploaded screen shots from install process which I am adding with this review.
[Interestingly enough, Spybot recognizes what Trend Micro's program is trying to do, and calls them on it. The uninstall program has a list of options for when you are uninstalling, and one of them is, "forced to uninstall by Trend Micro product due to alleged incompatibilities." It lets you know that they cannot reproduce these supposed incompatibilities, and that you can re-install Spybot once you are done installing the Trend Micro product. Seems to me that Trend Micro (and the rest of the companies listed in Spybot's list) are up to some shady business practices. I don't like this strong arm tactic of Trend Micro's at all. It is one thing to advise me that there might be problems, it is another thing ENTIRELY to refuse to install unless all other competing products have been uninstalled. It just so happens that Spybot has a nifty "Windows Start Up" editing tool which I find quite useful to purge the junk that software will try to put into my startup process. I don't know if the Trend Micro product will contain this functionality or not, but I DO know I am going to re-install Spybot right after I am done installing this thing. Minus 1 star right here, Trend Micro, and I haven't even finished installing the dang thing yet! (Note: I did re-add Spybot soon after I wrote this part of the review, and as I predicted, it conflicted with nothing, also note the Trend Micro product DOES NOT include the same functions Spybot most especially the "Windows Start Up" editing tools.)]
I ran the standard battery of tests on their "virus" & spyware protection functions. Arguably, this is the main function of the software, so one would expect it to perform the best, and it came through pretty well.
Detecting old/known "viruses": Succeeded. As a security and computer professional, I have quite a few old/quarantined "virus" files in the archives. I peppered a few of them through the test system, including some non-Windows ones, and the product found all of them on the first scan it ran during installation.
Detecting/Protecting against "zero day" (brand new) "viruses": Succeeded. Visited a well known cyber criminal "hang out" and downloaded code for the "latest and greatest" "virus" being worked on. (Modified the code so it wouldn't do any actual harm to the target PC), compiled it and ran it. The program's threat detection noted the behavior of the program trying to run, and blocked it. It may not be able to detect everything right away, but it knows about basic "threat behavior" -- specifically attempts to insert sneaky start-up code, attempts to modify the master boot record, and attempts to overwrite existing, legitimate program executables.
Detecting/Protecting against website threats: Succeeded. Visited known insecure websites, and all such visits in all major browsers (MIE, Firefox, Safari, Opera, Chrome), was blocked. However, you cannot simply check a box, or push a button that says, "I know the risks, override," like many other security products. Instead, you have to physically go into the filters and white list something manually. Making it a chore, instead of a quick and easy fix.
Only complaint: unlike Norton 360, Trend Micro's Internet Security 2010 doesn't download updates nearly as often. Norton's 360 downloads updates roughly every 15 minutes. Trend Micro's product does so roughly once or twice a day. This leaves a larger opening for "zero day" threats to land. Perhaps Trend Micro is stealthily checking in the background and I am not aware that it is checking, but I only see notices of updates being checked for/downloaded about once/twice a day. Whereas with Norton's 360, it was all the time. -------------------------------------------------------------------------- RESOURCE USE & COMPUTER SLOW DOWN:
All computer security software that does any sort of "scanning" is going to take up resources, both RAM and CPU. There is just no avoiding that with the modern approach to scanning methods. Trend Micro's product claims that it has a, "20% faster scan time." They do not elaborate what, specifically, it is 20% faster than, but I am going to assume previous versions. The scanning process is rather fast. Even the "deep" scans didn't take that long. However, they still do take up to 40-50% of the CPU resources. RAM use is relatively low, CPU use is rather high while it is scanning. It runs two levels of scans, one is a process called "tsc.exe" which is part of their spyware, etc. detection and removal tools. The other is called "SfCtlCom.exe" and it is the standard "virus" scanning and removal tool. -------------------------------------------------------------------------- FIREWALL PROTECTION:
Detecting/Preventing network-based attacks (like denial of service): Succeeded. I ran a network security administrator's testing tool to simulate several types of denial of service and similar types of network based attacks. The Trend Micro firewall detected and blocked them. (So does the free firewall I normally use).
Detecting/Blocking ping and sniffing attack research: Succeeded. I ran a network security administrator's testing tool to run various types of pings and sniffing attempts to ferret out information about the target machine running the Trend Micro security tools, they were all blocked.
The Trend Micro product includes a half hearted attempt to include some parental controls for managing internet security for children. If you wish to apply the controls to specific children, or even one child who isn't you, then you need to create them their own account in Windows (user or administrator, it doesn't matter -- you can also set the controls for the guest account, and the hidden Windows Administrator account). The account settings are computer specific, and you CANNOT edit them remotely, and the settings are unknown across your network or on any other computer with the same security program installed. In contrast, the McAfee Family Protection 2010 program creates accounts IN the McAfee program, and they are tied to your account you create for the software license. So, as long as you use the same license to install the program on different machines, the accounts (and their settings) carry over, and are known on ALL of the machines the software is on. I like that setup a LOT better than the Trend Micro setup. With the McAfee program, you can edit EVERYTHING in all of the settings, for all of the accounts, across all of the machines the security software is installed on, remotely. You cannot change any settings which matter remotely with the Trend Micro program. Just some of the basic "virus" scanning settings.
Unlike the McAfee Family Protection 2010 product I reviewed previously, the Trend Micro parental control tools are rather limited in scope (of course, the McAfee Family program ONLY does parental controls, but you can get a version that does everything, just like the Trend Micro product being reviewed here). Instead of allowing the regulation of internet usage time and TIME DURATION of a child's account, you may only set time of day usage rules. Additionally, like the McAfee product, you may also filter website access by various categories including: Adult, Gambling, Crime, Games, Chat, Peer-To-Peer, etc. You may also black and white list specific sites. Also similar to the McAfee product, you may enter typed data you want secured. Unlike the McAfee program though, the Trend Micro program actually will BLOCK the submission of any form containing this protected data. So, if you enter in your child's phone number, your home address, etc. if they try to submit that EXACT string of typed characters to any website or search engine, the Trend Micro program will stop the execution of the form and display a "blocked" messages instead. If the exact string isn't entered, then it isn't blocked.
Missing from the parental controls: reports, logs, ability to block specific programs, and ACTUAL remote management. Additionally, the option of a key logger, and screen shots would have been nice. They may not be needed, but for families that do need them, they are handy to have. Minus 1 star. -------------------------------------------------------------------------- NETWORK MAP/MANAGEMENT:
The network map, and remote management is disappointing at best, and pathetic at worst. The map frequently fails to load if you are connected to the network via a wireless connection. The map NEVER shows connected devices such as scanners/printers/stand-alone hard drives either. Other devices on the network (and the router) pick them up and show them just fine, but not Trend Micro.
The "remote" management is tedious. First you have to setup passwords, then enable the management, then do the same for all of the other computers on the network, then hope it works. When it doesn't, do it again, until it does (it eventually will). Once all that is done, there isn't much you can do. See the screen shots I uploaded. You can view logs, run a scan, and change some minor settings (no updating parental controls or anything else in-depth, at all). I was very disappointed by this aspect of the program, especially when it is compared to the fantastic job of remote management that McAfee introduced with their product. (I feel like docking them a star for this one, but I won't. If you feel like I should have, mentally reduce their score by another star) -------------------------------------------------------------------------- IRRITATION LEVEL/USER FRIENDLINESS:
The program restarts itself even if you disable it/exit it. It will ALWAYS re-load itself upon a re-boot. (This can be a good thing if a "virus" is doing it. It is a bad thing if you are a computer professional, and want the program off until you turn it back on again. If I give the admin password, and shut it off, that should be the end of it. It should stay off until I tell it differently. I am the boss, not it. I loathe inanimate objects second guessing me. That is about as helpful as my car refusing to turn right because it thinks it "knows better.") The program will also ignore you telling it to allow a program, and stop bothering you about it. See screen shot I uploaded. Especially if you are a computer professional (most especially if you use network admin tools, and other security related tools) you will get irritated by this quickly. The program will continuously pop-up messages warning you about the program: running, changing anything, or setting itself to run again, over and over and over again. It gets old fast, and it refuses to obey the "stop warning me about this" check box. Minus 1 star.
The program does its core job fairly well. If ALL you care about is "virus" protection, spyware protection, and firewall protection. This product is just about as good as anything else on the market. Give or take some update speeds. However, if you want a comprehensive "internet security suite" ESPECIALLY if you want to remotely manage it, and MOST ESPECIALLY if you want IN-DEPTH parental controls, then look elsewhere. Overall: 2/5 stars.
1. Never ever install "mystery" programs. If you didn't buy it on a disk, or pay for a download, or get a free download from a reputable site, odds are very good that you are about to compromise your computer. 2. Avoid peer-to-peer stuff like the plague. They are INFESTED with every malicious code variant ever dreamed of, and many of the peer-to-peer clients themselves are infected too. 3. Get a firewall, and keep it on. The basic Windows firewall will do in a pinch. But I recommend you go ahead and go that extra mile and get a better one. There are several good (free) ones on the market. Pick your favorite. Simply search for "top free firewalls" and you will have plenty to pick from. I am partial to several brands myself, but I am not here to advertise for them, so you will just have to make your own decisions. ;-) 4. If you are concerned about "viruses" you can go ahead and download a free "virus" scanner/preventer. There are plenty available. The most popular right now is AVG. Although I don't bother with them. For most clients who want extra protection, I generally install a "behavioral monitor" program. These types of programs, like the Spybot Search & Destroy Tea Timer, or the PC Tools Threatfire are similar to "virus" scanners, but they are more light weight, and much less resource hogging. They simply recognize the BEHAVIOR of "virus"-like programs, and ask you if you want to allow it. Much simpler and easier to deal with than a full fledged scanner. 5. Do your research. If you have a pop-up on your screen which LOOKS like a Windows message, and says you have 1,000+ problems in your registry you need to clean IMMEDIATELY. Calm down. First, hop on the internet and search for the exact phrases you are seeing, and any product names you are seeing. Most likely you have some spy or ad-ware and they are trying to trick you. Also, do searches for "product name" + "rip off" / "scam"/ "fraud"/ etc.
You will be AMAZED at how effective those 5 simple tips are. Follow them, and you will lower your risk of getting hit by a "virus" or other malicious code dramatically. Make sure you educate your children about them as well. --------------------------------------------------------------------------
[Curriculum Vitae (AKA "what bloody right do you have to be speaking about this subject?!"): I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science with a Minor in Security and Forensics. I feel qualified to speak about most issues related to modern computing, especially computer security. I do not work for any specific anti-"virus" company, nor do I work solely on computer security issues as my sole area of professional interest. So I do not count myself an expert in the field. But I most certainly have the educational background, and the professional practice to write this review with authority. That doesn't mean I cannot be wrong or make a mistake, or that someone with more experience doesn't have a better angle on the product in question. But it does mean that I stand by what I write here about this product as a professional in the field. Don't just take my word as the final word, though. Feel free to download a free trial of any computer software you may be interested in, and make the ultimate decision yourself. You will always be the most qualified person to decide what is worth your money.]
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