NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, December 2008
TrendMicro Internet Security Pro 2009
By Ira Wilsker, APCUG Director;
Columnist, The Examiner, Beaumont, TX; Radio & TV Show Host

(click to email author)


As I have stated in this column numerous times over the past eight years, all PCs need security software. There are some pundits who call the risks overblown, and even some conspiracy believers who argue that the threats are created by the companies selling security software; these statements are incredulous, as the threats are very real and endemic. In the last two weeks alone, my home computer has been threatened directly by eight spyware attacks, six websites containing dangerous content, two Trojans, and one virus. Had I not had updated protective software installed, my computer would have had major problems. Twelve of the threats came from simply browsing apparently legitimate websites, three were from emails that I was sent, and two were hidden in files that I downloaded. Had I not had had security software installed, I would have been the victim of identity theft from a key logging Trojan, my computer would have become part of a “bot” or army of zombies sending out countless spam emails, and there may have been damage to my system files which would have prevented me from accessing my computer. Since I did have updated security software installed, my computer was protected from these threats, as the malware and threats were stopped in their tracks before they could do any damage.

There are several fine security products on the market from such publishers as Norton/Symantec, Kaspersky, BitDefender, Panda, McAfee, Grisoft/AVG, Sunbelt Software, CA, and others. All will do a satisfactory job protecting the computer from cyber attack as long as they are current versions (suites are my recommendation), properly installed, configured, and frequently updated. The security suites vary in price, and in the amount of system overhead and performance degradation they cause, but those costs are low compared to the amount of damage a malware infestation can cause.

I have at various times installed most of the major, and some of the lesser known security products on my computers, and during testing all provided reasonable but variable protection from most current threats. There is one security product that I seem to repeatedly migrate back to, and that product is TrendMicro’s Internet Security Suite. My current security installation is Trend Micro’s Internet Security Suite 2009 Pro edition. I have installed this software on my computers, some of my kids’ computers, and those of friends and coworkers. In the interest of full disclosure, I have been a volunteer (unpaid) beta tester for several software products, some of which have been TrendMicro’s products.

TrendMicro Internet Security Suite 2009 Pro is a very comprehensive security product that provides protection from viruses, worms, Trojans, rootkits, spam, phishing, hackers and crackers, and other threats. The Pro version, unlike the less expensive standard edition, also provides the additional functionality of a “security dashboard” which graphically shows the types of threats stymied by the software, a “Remote File Lock” that stores sensitive files in an encrypted and password protected virtual vault that locks closed if the computer is ever lost or stolen, a “System Tuner” that improves the performance of the computer, a browser toolbar that displays the threat level of websites visited and encrypts data sent over the web, and “Mobile Security” that provides TrendMicro’s protection from malware to mobile phones and PDAs.

The features that are common between the Pro version and the standard version are all that are really necessary to provide comprehensive online security to the user and his computer. These features, enabled by default, but easily customized, include protection from viruses and spyware, an effective firewall, email protection from spam and malware, protection from web based threats, parental controls, and software based identity theft protection. One of the keys to up-to-date protection is frequent updates, and TrendMicro offers automated updates at preset times, with the default being updating every three hours; I chose to automatically update hourly for slightly enhanced protection. In reality, I get several updates on a daily basis, giving me a reasonable sense of security that I have properly updated security software.

Another feature that would be very useful to many home users is the “Home Network Protection” element. Since many of us run wired or wireless (802.11) networks at home, security of the network becomes a serious issue. Wireless networks are especially vulnerable to unauthorized access, and Internet Security Suite can indicate if someone else is using your network. Clicking on the tab “My Home Network” on the main screen allows the user to track other computers on the network. The software displays a live network map showing the computers that are connected. If someone is wirelessly accessing the network, that user is displayed, and the option is presented to block that user, as well as other intruders. The network control also allows the network administrator to remotely manage and update the compatible security software installed on the networked machines.

In the unlikely event that technical support is needed, there is a chat link listed on the main page under “Help and Support”. This opens a live web chat with technical support. In addition to chat, support is available by email, phone, or via an interactive knowledge base. As a test, I contacted technical support on a Sunday afternoon via email, just to test the response time. Within an hour, I had an acknowledgement, and late on Sunday night I received a very personal and detailed response from an apparent real person.

TrendMicro Internet Security Suite will run on all versions of XP and Vista, including 32 and 64 bit systems. The basic suite retails for $49.95, and the Pro version retails for $69.95, for a one year license. Recently, one of the local big box stores had the 2009 Pro version on sale for $39.95 (no rebate necessary), and there are high-value rebates offered occasionally by some retailers. Both versions include licenses that allow the software to be installed on up to three computers, which significantly reduces the cost on a per machine basis. It should also be noted that users who have older versions, such as the 2008 version, may be entitled to a free upgrade to the appropriate 2009 edition for the balance of the license. Upgrades are available via download directly from the TrendMicro website at http://www.trendmicro.com; I suggest that users copy their software license number (click on the help link) prior to updating, and be sure that the proper version is downloaded and installed (Pro or standard version).

While there are many fine competing products available, and I have personally used several of them, I have generally been very happy with TrendMicro Internet Security Suite Pro and continue to use it. For most users, it would be a good choice.

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