Trend Micro Internet Security Pro 2009 (US$70 for three users as of 12/24/08) fails badly at any security suite’s most important task: Identifying malware before it can attack your PC.
In tests for “Paying for Protection,” our 2009 roundup of nine security suites, Trend Micro’s newest offering didn’t just come in last place in that crucial category–its dismal 69.3 per cent detection rate was a full 20 percentage points behind the next worst competitor.
In AV-Test.org‘s tests, which put each suite up against a huge array of bots, password stealers, and other malware, top performers tagged about 99 percent of the 654,914 samples–but Trend Micro’s package let three out of every ten pieces of malicious software go by untouched. That just doesn’t cut it for security software.
Trend Micro likewise fell flat in heuristic tests using two-week-old signature files to simulate dealing with unknown threats, and at catching annoying adware. It was dead last in both categories.
The company says that it emphasizes proactive protection that attempts to block threats before they can try installing malware (and before the suite would have to recognize it). Trend Micro uses its own Web crawlers, download tests, and user reports to maintain a database of malicious Web sites, and will block those sites from loading on your PC. It’s a valid approach–one that could well supplement scanning for malware on your PC–but it can’t yet replace that core detection task.
Trend Micro’s package did shine when tasked with cleaning up an existing infection. It removed all the files from nine out of ten malware infections, a performance that only BitDefender matched. It was almost as good in dealing with Registry changes, placing second in that test.
`The suite offers a few interesting features, such as a scan for missing Windows patches that assigns a risk level for each one. You’ll also get a useful Wi-Fi advisor button in a browser toolbar that can warn you if your wireless network lacks encryption–a smart tool placed in a good location.
Trend Micro also did well with its user interface, and clearly took time to provide good descriptions for features and options. Right away we noticed the use of plain English throughout the program.
But the company went too far with its desire to simplify, as we saw no pop-ups or warnings when it blocked our attempted Zango-adware download. We had to dig into the program logs to find out what was going on. It’s good to help people make informed decisions to protect their computer, but it’s also important to at least give users an idea that something we just tried to do was potentially harmful. Without an alert, a user might think that their browser simply had a problem, and they might then try installing the dangerous software through another browser–or even worse, on another PC. You can change the default setting to display warnings when your PC encounters viruses or spyware, but you shouldn’t have to.
Trend Micro’s suite has some good points, but there’s no getting around the fact that Internet Security Pro 2009 fails at detecting malicious software, and therefore fails as a security program. We cannot recommend buying it.