Trend Micro PC-cillin Internet Security 2007 suite is in transition. Although the package still retains the name PC-cillin, the company refers to the product as Trend Micro Internet Security 2007 and sees it more as an umbrella suite that encompasses the PC-cillin antivirus protection on the desktop and their new TrendSecure suite online-only extras. Whatever the name, whatever the grouping, we weren't all that impressed with Trend Micro PC-cillin Internet Security 2007, especially after we experienced a few notable glitches, not once, but several times, from September 2006 through February 2006. We do applaud Trend Micro's technical support, which is free, and we also like some of the unique security tools, such as the one that checks your machine for all the recent Microsoft update patches. For the average user, however, we still recommend ZoneAlarm Internet Security 7, which is a much lighter, better balanced Internet security suite with fewer glitches.
Unfortunately, we experienced trouble with each installation of Trend Micro PC-cillin Internet Security 2007 suite from September 2006 through February 2007, despite program updates from Trend Micro. The worst required us to disable then re-enable the Trend Micro firewall to connect to the Internet. Trend Micro admitted this was a known problem on some machines and assured us a fix was forthcoming. However, in February 2007, six months after general release, Trend Micro mailed us two different updated CDs for installation. Despite the update, we still had to disable, then re-enable the firewall to contact with our wireless network. On average, it took us about 20 minutes of combined installation, updates, and some juggling between enabling and disabling the Windows and Trend Micro firewalls, before we were able to start using the product, far longer than any other product we tested. Not exactly a smooth installation.
There are some caveats should you decide to remove Trend Micro PC-cillin Internet Security Suite. First, Trend Micro warns that removal of the software from your machine means you may not use the software again. We're not lawyers but that would imply if you upgraded to a new computer, you would not be able to install it on that new computer. No other antivirus product warned us in this way. We also found that if you have downloaded the optional TrendSecure features, they would have to be removed separately. From All Programs, there are two uninstall icons, one for the suite and one for the antispam toolbar. Because we installed various applets from TrendSecure, we also were prompted to uninstall the TrendSecure Vault, which required a reboot. The same installation glitch that kept us from accessing the Internet returned once we uninstalled the product; after the uninstall we were unable to access the Internet. Trend Micro says it is aware of this problem; they also say it affects only a handful of users. After the reboot, we were surprised to find system registry entries and several files in several folders still on our system. Of the suites we reviewed this year, only ZoneAlarm Internet Security Suite 7 uninstalls clean.
Out of the box, we again noticed a number of security features are turned off within Trend Micro PC-cillan Internet Security 2007. In previous years Trend Micro says this improved the overall performance of the product. However, the disabled feature list includes several selling points of this suite listed on its box, such as the wireless network monitor (the vendor says it's turned off because of busy office environments), the ability to scan ZIP files for computer viruses, and the automatic protection of other PCs on your network--features enabled by default in competing suites from ZoneAlarm, McAfee, and Norton, but disabled within Trend Micro's product. A novice using Trend Micro wouldn't necessarily think to enable these. As was the case last year, we enabled every disabled feature in 2007 and found little or no system noticeable system performance hit.
Digging down, we discovered a very cool feature that checks to see if your system has all the current Microsoft update patches installed. And we also like that Trend Micro's antiphishing tools plug seamlessly into Firefox and Internet Explorer browsers; no toolbars, just notifications when necessary. We also like Trend Micro's monitoring of wireless connections to our wireless network, but we think Trend Micro could do much more with wireless in future releases.
We downloaded three optional online-only applets from the TrendSecure Web site: Remote File Lock, Trend Micro Mobile Security, and Transaction Guard. Unfortunately, we found most of these applets were not yet ready for prime-time use.
Remote File Lock secures data files in a password-protected folder. The idea is that if your laptop is ever lost or stolen, you can log into the TrendSecure site and use this password to remotely lock any files stored within the folder. We found it didn't quite work as advertised. We dragged two files into the TrendSecure vault, yet we still were able to view the files in their original locations. Usually when a file is dragged between folders within Windows, the files move from one folder to another; in this case the files are merely copied. Trend Micro says our observation is correct; when you drag a file into the vault for securing, you must remember to delete the sensitive file from its original location, otherwise where's the security in that?
We then used another computer to remotely lock our TrendSecure vault; however, even with the vault locked, we could still see the contents of the TrendSecure vault within Windows Explorer. We also were able to open the "locked" documents. Thinking that the laptop needed to reboot (after all, all thieves reboot their stolen laptops), we did find the vault to be secure. The secured vault required a password for access, and we could no longer see the contents within Windows Explorer. Trend Micro confirmed that our observations are correct. One niggling issue, though: the secured vault still advertises itself on the desktop and within Windows Explorer. By comparison, Steganos Security Suite creates encrypted vaults that are invisible to outsiders and are not displayed within Windows Explorer.
Another optional feature, Trend Micro Mobile Security, protects up to three different smart phones from mobile viruses and malware. This is advanced protection that is not found in any competing Internet Security suite product. We had no problem with this feature.
A final TrendSecure download feature, Transaction Guard, protects online transactions by enabling a real-time spyware monitor and installing a secret onscreen keyboard on a remote PC. Transaction Guard is designed for use on public computer terminals, not necessarily your home terminal. The idea behind the onscreen keyboard is that you evade physical keyboard key strokes that spyware loggers intercept to steal passwords and other private information. That's the idea. The reality is these onscreen keyboards don't always work as advertised; keystroke-logging spyware can still record the typed text from an onscreen keyboard, clipboard, or other resources within Windows. Also, some spyware applications capture screen images. Trend Micro knows this and concedes Transaction Guard is just a first step in providing secure online transactions. By providing real-time antispyware protection along with the onscreen keyboard, Trend Micro hopes to detect and remove any known keylogger applications from the remote system being used.
Missing features include parental controls, a way to secure your wireless router with WEP or WPA, a way to back up files, real world identity theft protection, and a data file shredder. Perhaps next year we'll see some or all of these added.
In terms of antivirus protection, Trend Micro Internet Security 2007 scored in the middle range, falling behind Norton and McAfee and well short of our best performer, Kaspersky Anti-Virus in our performance test results. On our iTunes test, it gained ground compared with last year, taking 199 seconds as opposed to 236 seconds the previous year. On our Sorensen Squeeze test, Trend Micro Internet Security 2007 also improved, taking 285 seconds compared to 303 seconds last year. The application also showed improvement with individual file scans, taking only 150 seconds this year as opposed to 188 seconds last year. And in terms of boot speed, Trend Micro Internet Security 2007 improved, taking 63 seconds over 68 seconds last year. To find out how we test, see CNET Labs' How we test antivirus software page.
To determine how well a product will protect your PC, we refer to test results from two leading independent antivirus testing organizations. CheckVir.com ranked PC-cillin as one of four products to earn its advanced rating, which means the product was tested on finding and removing antivirus threats. PC-cillin was not reviewed by AV-Comparatives.org
In informal testing, Trend Micro's antiphishing technology was adequate but not as aggressive as the tools bundled within the latest releases of Firefox and Internet Explorer. For our tests, we looked at five recently identified phishing sites posted on www.DSLReoprts.com/PhishTracker. Trend Micro identified two of the three sites as suspicious; Firefox and Internet Explorer both identified four of the five as suspicious; and only the NetCraft Toolbar identified all five as potentially suspicious. By comparison, in previous tests Symantec and McAfee SiteAdvistor came the closest to matching NetCraft's standalone success.
Check back to read about our CNET labs testing of the ZoneAlarm firewall and antispyware protection in the coming weeks.
A truly unique feature of Trend Micro is its free technical support. McAfee, Symantec, and ZoneAlarm all charge for their live telephone help, whereas Trend Micro offers free live phone conversations. No other security vendor offers that. Also, like ZoneAlarm, Trend Micro includes a tutorial, which McAfee and Symantec do not. However, we found the Trend Micro online-support site cumbersome to use, with little practical information within its knowledgebase.
Despite repackaging, Trend Micro's PC-cillin Internet Security 2007 feels like a grab bag of security tools lacking a central focus. The addition of online-only content from TrendSecure further muddies the water. We've often had trouble slotting PC-cillin products against standalone antivirus products, given its bundled firewall and other applications, yet it doesn't quite equal the ease of use or the breadth of protection offered in competing Internet security suites. In our opinion, ZoneAlarm Internet Security 7 remains the only Internet security suite that strikes the right balance between overall ease of use and the right tools for today's threats.