Trend Micro PC-cillin Internet Security 2006 is a better buy than top-selling competitors Symantec Norton Internet Security 2006 and McAfee Internet Security Suite 2006. For starters, it costs $20 less than Norton or McAfee while bundling a similar toolkit, including virus, spyware, and phishing protection and a firewall. It produces less of a drag on system performance, and PC-cillin users get free phone support--a rarity in the industry. But PC-cillin 2006 also has its shortcomings. It should be more proactive in blocking spyware downloads; it leaves some security options turned off by default to reduce the hit on your system resources; and it peppers you with annoying pop-up security messages (you can disable this feature, but the deactivation process could be much easier). Despite these gripes, PC-cillin Internet Security 2006 is a worthy upgrade and a solid buy for new users.
Setting up PC-cillin Internet Security 2006 takes just a few minutes, although it takes a bit longer if you install the optional Trend Micro Anti-Spam toolbars for Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express. We'd prefer a single setup routine for all components. The toolbars appear to have been an afterthought, and you have to rummage through folders on the setup CD to find the Anti-Spam installation files. Once setup is complete, PC-cillin downloads updated virus definitions and program files and recommends that you run a system scan. The initial system scan is optional, as it is with McAfee, Norton, and other security apps.
The PC-cillin 2006 interface is nicely organized. As in Norton and McAfee, the main Overview screen displays a snapshot of your security status. Green checkmark icons indicate that your computer is properly protected against the usual threats. Large buttons titled Update Now and Scan Now make it easy to download the latest program files or scan for security breaches. Dig deeper, and you'll find a level of control in PC-cillin that its best-selling competitors don't match. For instance, you can configure the real-time virus protection to scan compressed files (ZIP files, for example) up to six layers deep. The real-time scanner doesn't scan ZIP files by default, but the manual and scheduled scans do.
Surprisingly, PC-cillin 2006's default configuration leaves many key security tools turned off, including the Web Site Filter, which blocks specific sites or categories of sites--gambling, sex, job search, and so on--and Privacy Protection, which prevents personal information, such as your name and your telephone and credit card numbers, from being sent without your permission. It's easy enough to activate these features via the AntiFraud Wizard, but they should be up and running right out of the box. According to Trend Micro officials, some security features are turned off to reduce PC-cillin's drag on system performance. While it's true that ultrahigh security makes for a slower PC, we found that PC-cillin 2006--even with every security tool activated--was less of a speed bump than McAfee or Norton. (Read here how PC-cillin's performance compares with that of other antivirus apps in CNET Labs' tests.)
PC-cillin Internet Suite 2006 packs an impressive arsenal of security weapons. Like its competitors, it protects against viruses and spyware, cracker intrusions, and phishing attempts, the last of which are designed to purloin your credit card and bank-account numbers. This year's upgrade brings improved phishing protection, including a new antiphishing toolbar for Internet Explorer. Another plus: PC-cillin detects new users on wireless networks. New users are increasingly common in home and small-business wireless networks, and they often operate without any security whatsoever.