NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, November 2007
Trend Micro Internet Security 2008
By Ira Wilsker, APCUG Director;
Columnist, The Examiner, Beaumont, TX; Radio & TV Show Host

(click to email author)


Earlier this year, a leading consumer magazine rated the major antivirus and anti-spyware products, and across the board the products from Trend Micro were rated as the best available. Tested by the magazine were the “2007” versions of the software products, and in recent weeks most of the security software publishers have released their 2008 versions. I have tested and used several different security suites on my computers in recent years, and keep returning to a Trend Micro suite. A few days ago I upgraded to the newly released Trend Micro Internet Security Pro.

Trend Micro has traditionally been among the top three personal computer security software publishers, along with Symantec (Norton), and McAfee. For 2008, Trend Micro has three different retail security choices; Trend Micro Antivirus and AntiSpyware 2008 ($40 retail, for a single computer), Trend Micro Internet Security 2008 ($50 retail, for three computers), and the top-of-the-line product, Trend Micro Internet Security Pro ($70 retail, for three computers). Some experienced computer users may recognize that Trend Micro is no longer using its well known “PC-Cillin” moniker with its antivirus products.

The three products all have the same basic security core consisting of a proven (and enhanced) antivirus and anti-spyware engine, which has a reputation for providing excellent protection, as acknowledged by that leading consumer magazine. All three also provide protection from malicious software that attempts to alter your applications software. The Internet Security 2008 adds several additional features including an active spam filter, home network protection, protection from dangerous websites, and identity theft protection. The Internet Security Pro has all of the features of the lower versions, plus adds several more. For those who utilize a wireless network at home or on the road, the Pro version incorporates some Wi-Fi protection (avoids unsafe hotspots and dangerous wireless networks), identifies and neutralizes keyloggers (a method of identity theft), can remotely lock folders if the computer is stolen, cleans the registry and junk files for faster performance, and can restore Windows if there was serious damage from a variety of sources. For parents with children in the home, the Pro version also incorporates “Advanced Parental Controls”, which allows the parent to control the type of websites and other internet activities of the child, as well as blocks websites with inappropriate content selectable by the parent.

I recently installed the Internet Security Pro, and it smoothly installed after first identifying and uninstalling the 2007 version. Initially, I chose to use the factory defaults during the install process, acknowledging that there is complete flexibility to select desired features and settings. Activation after installing requires an active internet connection to validate the software, and download any updates.

After installing, the “Main Console” offers seven sets of controls and options from buttons on the left side. The “Overview” (opened by default) shows the quality of protection, the expiration date of the software license, the date of the last update, the date of the last full scan of the hard drive, and a summary of security activity. There are also two other buttons on the overview display, one for “Scan Now” which will run a system scan, and “Update Now” to manually download the latest updates.

The “Virus & Spyware Controls” shows the status of the “Protection Against Viruses & Spyware”. This feature allows the user to determine the degree of protection desired by checking which real-time threats to protect against, including instant message threats, and threats in incoming mail. Security scans can also be selected and scheduled to automatically run at predetermined times, or the computer can be scanned at the user’s discretion. When activated, the “Prevent Unauthorized Changes” protects the computer from changes to the operating system (Windows), and unwanted changes to other key programs and applications. The “Home Network & Firewall Controls” allows the user to select which degree of safety and protection the integral firewall should provide. The purpose of a firewall is to prevent unauthorized access to the computer from a network and the internet, and to prevent rogue programs that may be on the computer from accessing the network or internet. This is a major safety and security feature. Another control in this window is the “Wireless Home Network Monitor” which will periodically scan the network connection, and displaying a list of computers which are connected to the network, which makes it easy to identify if the computer and network are being accessed by unauthorized individuals.

Many of us use email as a predominate use of our computers. The “Internet & Email Controls” allows the user to select the degree of protection from web threats such as phishing (identity theft), and pharming (a hacker’s attempt to redirect the user to an illicit website). I have multiple email accounts, and inevitably receive quite a bit of unwanted spam email. This Pro version has a capable spam filter that works with Outlook and Outlook Express to automatically remove unwanted advertising, phishing, and other dangerous emails from the user’s inbox. The user may selectively review and delete any suspected spam if so desired, just to make sure that there are no “false positives”, which may be the rare legitimate email that was erroneously detected and removed as spam. The “Parental Controls” allows the user to selectively decide which types of web access to be blocked. Integral is a directory of illicit or questionable website topics which can be selectively blocked, as well as controls to restrict access to online chats, instant messaging, file exchange services (P2P), and other online activities. For those of us concerned with the very real threat of identity theft, and the dissemination of personal information over the internet, the “Data Theft Prevention Settings” can control or warn the user if his name, credit card numbers, phone numbers, login names, and passwords are being sent over the internet.

“Other Settings” allows the user to select how often the program should go online and search for updates. The default is to check for updates every three hours, but since I personally choose to maximize my protection, I choose to have the software automatically check for updates hourly. Other features displayed here include subscription information, serial number, the “Trend Micro Data Network” which can track the source of any viruses and spyware detected, security warnings, passwords, and event logs.

The “Help & Support “ section includes direct links to technical support, including a live online chat with technical support, product self-help, and access to a comprehensive virus and malware encyclopedia.

The Pro version also contains some very useful “Pro Services”, which includes the “Remote File Lock” which can stop access to selected files and folders if the computer is ever lost or stolen (a real threat to notebook and laptop computer users). Another utility included is a “System Tuner” which improves the performance of the computer by checking the hard drive for recoverable space (junk files), registry repair, a startup program manager, and an internet privacy function which manages tracking cookies and sites listed in your browser history. The “Transaction Protector” is an Internet Explorer toolbar that indicates if sensitive data is being sent in the clear (capable of being easily intercepted and read) or encrypted, as well as indicates the safety and security of any wireless connection. This toolbar also shows the credibility of a website before making a purchase or implementing any type of transactions. “Total Recovery” allows for the restoration of Windows and critical application files if the system is ever compromised or damaged by any malicious software.

I have found Trend Micro’s Internet Security Pro a comprehensive and effective suite of tools and utilities that provides protection from diverse internet threats, along with other useful benefits. The annual license is good for three computers, making it cost effective for the high degree of protection provided. The Pro version requires either Windows XP (in its many variations), or any version of Vista in either 32 bit or 64 bit configurations.

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