NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, November 2010
TrendMicro Titanium - A New Concept in Security
By Ira Wilsker, APCUG Director;
Columnist, The Examiner, Beaumont, TX; Radio & TV Show Host
(click to email author)


As I have said in this column many times before, I am a software junkie. I like trying new software, often seeking out the gems that can improve performance, or increase security. Recently, I installed a most intriguing product that promised both the epitome of online security along with a noticeable increase in performance due to the utilization of less system resources. This product is the newly released TrendMicro Titanium Maximum Security.

I have been an avid user of antivirus software since the earliest days of the internet, switching to more comprehensive software as the threat matrix evolved. The threats started as simple viruses, and then worms, Trojans, and other forms of spyware. Malware of other varieties started to appear and then became endemic, including other forms of spyware, keyloggers, rogue antivirus, online scams, compromised but otherwise legitimate websites, identity theft schemes, and a panoply of other newly created cyber threats. As the threat landscape increased, the traditional antivirus software started to become technically obsolete as it could not protect from the myriad of threats, and security suites evolved into comprehensive protection that depended on bloated software which inevitably degraded computer performance. Some of the recent security suites created such a drag on performance that boot times became excessive, and opening files would be so slow that user frustration set in. The security software publishers were well aware of this predicament, and worked hard to produce software that provided comprehensive protection without dramatically sacrificing computer performance. TrendMicro has accomplished this most worthy goal with its new Titanium series of security suites.

A few weeks ago I installed the newly released TrendMicro Titanium Maximum Security. It installed quickly and smoothly with a minimum of user intervention. After rebooting the computer immediately following the install, I was pleasantly amazed that my computer seemed to boot much faster than it had with my previous security suite. Using the Soluto boot management and monitoring software (A href="http://www.soluto.com">http://www.soluto.com), my boot time was reduced by about half, meaning my computer was booting up twice as fast, the only difference being uninstalling my previous security suite, and installing the Titanium Maximum suite.

Being one who likes to explore the features of any new product, the first thing I wanted to do was update the malware signatures, but was surprised that there is no such button or link on the software console (main software window). When right-clicking on the red ball TrendMicro icon in the task bar, and opening the control console, I was greeted with a popup that said, "Never click an update button again ... Seriously, you don't need it anymore. TrendMicro Titanium Maximum Security automatically keeps you up to date with the latest protection, so you don't need to check for updates." This lack of frequent signature file updating may have been an acute disadvantage with earlier security products, where failure to update frequently would leave the computer vulnerable to new threats, but it actually is an advantage with this new product since it uses "Cloud Technology" to continuously keep the signatures updated without the need for periodic signature updates. This also acts to enhance protection since there is minimal lag time between detection of new threats, the development of countermeasures, and the protection on the computer. With previous products, many users had a false sense of security for which they sometimes paid dearly, as they did not download the latest updates in a timely fashion; this is not a problem with TrendMicro's Cloud Technology. To be fair, there is a selection that says "Check for program updates" on the program icon, but these are software updates, and not new malware signature files. To the credit of TrendMicro, they do frequently push software updates and improvements to the user.

The main console offers a Security Summary, a System Tuner, Parental Controls, and Subscription Information. The security summary displays the threats that have been detected and neutralized, with the option of preparing periodic graphical reports, or exporting the results to a CSV file that can be utilized by database and spreadsheet programs. The results can also be exported to a plain text (.txt) file if desired.

The Parental Controls, System Tuner, and other features can be accessed by clicking on the Tools button. Some of the other features accessible in this manner are a Secure Erase utility, Data Theft Prevention, Trend Micro Vault, and a Free Tool Center. The Parental Controls utility is intended to protect children from inappropriate websites, control access and online time, and provide detailed reports to the parents on the child's online activity. The System Tuner can clean junk files freeing up hard drive space, manage what loads at boot in order to improve startup performance, clean history files, schedule tune-ups. The System Tuner also includes a comprehensive registry cleaner, and a feature that protects internet privacy. The Secure Erase offers an option to securely delete files such that they are unrecoverable, and complies with government data security standards. Data Theft Prevention protects sensitive data including credit card numbers, passwords, and email addresses from hackers and spyware, which may attempt to steal such vital personal information. The Trend Micro Vault is an encrypted, password protected Windows folder that can protect sensitive files; in the event the computer is lost or stolen (a common occurrence for laptop and notebook computers), the Vault can be sealed remotely, preventing illicit access to those sensitive files. If the computer is recovered, the authorized user can unlock the directory. The Free Tool Center opens a webpage that offers online backup services (10 gb provided free, up to 100 gb available); Housecall free online security scanning; Guarded ID Standard version which encrypts keystrokes to defeat keyloggers; SafeCentral, a fee based security system that protects online activities such as online banking; and DriveClonePro, a comprehensive backup utility.

Users should periodically perform a scan of their computers, and this product offers a very fast Quick Scan, a comprehensive Full Scan, and a selective Custom Scan. In independent speed tests, TrendMicro Titanium Maximum Security completed a full scan of a hard drive in half the time of the next fastest name-brand security suite, in one-fourth the time (four times faster) than another top-selling competitor. In addition to being the fastest scanner tested among the major brands, Titanium also had the smallest memory footprint (least resources used), fastest file copy, and took up the smallest amount of hard drive space.

While the default settings are entirely adequate to provide reasonable security, the user can control the virus and spyware settings, degree of protection from web threats, set protection from malware spread through instant messaging, select comprehensive spam filtering, and configure some other forms of protection.

In the few weeks that I have been using TrendMicro Titanium Maximum Security, I have been very impressed with the improved performance of my computer, the comprehensive protection that has been provided, and the additional performance, tools, and security enhancements available. For those users who want a modern and technologically advanced commercial security suite, I can recommend TrendMicro Titanium Maximum Security. The Maximum suite which I have been using, retails for $79.95, and includes a one-year license for up to three computers. For those who may not need all of the extra tools, there is a Titanium Internet Security for $69.95 retail, also for use on up to three computers. For those only needing basic security from malware, there is a $39.95 TrendMicro Titanium Antivirus+, but that is only for use on a single computer. Bargain hunters can find these products locally in the big-box stores and online at significant discounts from the retail price, which only enhances the return on the investment. At whatever price, TrendMicro Titanium Maximum Security would be a wise choice for a security suite.

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