So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Trend Micro Titanium Maximum Security 2012
Trend Micro's Titanium Maximum Security 2012 suite has a clean, easy to use interface, and it's not overly intrusive
- Simple interface
- Easy to use
- Not intrusive
- Could use more in-depth data logging and reporting features
- Small interface window
If you're after a security suite that's not overly intrusive and resource hungry, Trend Micro's Titanium Maximum Security Suite 2012 is a good choice. In addition to real-time protection, it offers data protection and even 10GB worth of cloud storage via SafeSync.
Price$ 129.95 (AUD)
Installing and using a security suite on a desktop PC or laptop (in fact, especially a laptop) can be a frustrating experience. Pop-ups, incessant messages to update and upgrade, not to mention performance hits, are often traits of these programs. Trend Micro's Titanium Maximum Security 2012 aims to be more user-friendly on all those fronts and it's mostly successful.
We found Titanium Maximum to have a simple user interface without many settings contributing to confusion. Pop-ups were rare during our test period, and when there were pop-ups it was to let us know about a threat. Scans ran unnoticed in the background and they were generally quick. The program, in its physical form, ships on an optical disc that contains an installer that has to download the program from the Internet — we'd recommend just going and downloading it if you want it. An activation code is supplied on the box and it can be used to activate up to five copies of the program, which makes it very useful for a family looking to protect separate computers for parents and kids. The subscription is for 12 months (or you can pay $199.90 for 24 months) and this starts the moment the first licence is used. It's worth activating all copies at once rather than waiting and potentially losing valuable subscription time.
The key elements of the Titanium Maximum suite include virus and malware protection, both via manual scanning and real-time protection; in addition, you get to use parental controls, data theft protection, a data vault, a data eraser, the ability to create a rescue disk and a system optimisation tool. Furthermore, it includes a subscription to the Safe Sync cloud storage service, which gives you 10GB worth of space to store files that you want to access from anywhere over the Internet.
All the key elements of the software can be accessed from its main interface, but it's an interface that is sometimes frustrating. It can't be maximised, which means that you have to navigate a small window and, in some cases, do a lot of scrolling, especially if you are viewing log files to see what threats have been blocked. There are three modes for scanning a computer: quick, full, and custom. Custom basically allows you to select the drive that you want scanned — you could also just right click on drives or folders to quickly scan them. Our sister publication in the United States tested Trend's Titanium Internet Security 2012 (which has the same scanning engine as in Titanium Maximum) for effectiveness at detecting various threats; you can read all about it in the US PC World review.
In addition, the suite offers protection from malicious Web sites as you browse. Clicking on ads from questionable Web sites, for example, we were often informed that the site that was about to load could either infect our computer or possibly try to scam us. When a threatening URL is detected, it invokes a page saying that the site was blocked by Trend Micro, but the site can still be visited if the program's password is supplied (don't give this password to your kids). This protection is automatic, and it can be supplemented by enabling the Parental Controls.
Sites suspected of malware or scams are prevented from automatically loading.
The Parental Controls allow Web sites to be blocked depending on their category. Different categories are blocked according to the age group you specify in the filter. You can also elect to block more or less than the default offerings. A schedule can be set up so that the Internet can be used only within the hours that you specify, and a time limit can be implemented so that your kids don't spend the majority of their home time in front of the PC chatting to friends or caught up in an endless YouTube session.
Parental controls are available, but shouldn't replace proper supervision for young kids.
Keyword filtering is not available though and the predefined filters are little too broad, which means they should not be relied upon. If you're concerned about what your child sees on the Web, then you're better off supervising them. As an example, we were able to view sites pertaining to mischief and the excessive showing of flesh, even with the filter enabled to prevent such things. Conversely, false positive results, or sites that don't pose any risk but are picked up anyway (such as some to do with hacking), can be added to a list of allowed sites.
Data theft prevention can be used to store data such as email addresses, phone numbers, addresses and credit card numbers (or parts of credit card numbers) so that they can't be accidentally (or sinisterly) transmitted over the Web. If you enter this data in the suite so that it's protected, a warning will come up when you enter this data in Web forms and attempt to transmit it. The warning will come in the form of a pop-up in near your System Tray area, which gives you the option of allowing the data to be sent. The trouble with this feature is that it does not tell you which site has made the request for this data. For example, we typed a fake credit card number into Google and the pop-up came up immediately, telling us that our credit card information was about to leave our computer. However, it didn't say that it was leaving to go to Google's servers. There is a log for this feature that can be checked, but it only shows the date and time of a data request, not where that data was supposed to be going.
The Data Theft feature can detect when the sensitive information you've secured is about to be sent over the Internet.
It doesn't give you a proper report on where the information was destined to end up.
This lack of information follows the pattern of the rest of the suite: it's not a suite that will give you mounds of information about what it's doing and how it has protected you. The logs have to be looked at to see what types of threats you've been saved from. In our tests, it took 40min to scan a well-worn computer with 600GB of data on it. The end result was three found threats, which the suite claimed were spyware found in compressed files, but it did not specify exactly which files these were. It also removed over 30 tracking cookies. Basically, and at the risk of making the interface a little more complex, some information regarding what the software is doing would be a good idea and add to the peace of mind that the suite aims to bring to typical end users.
As part of the security suite, you also get a 10GB Trend Micro SafeSync account and one-year subscription (which will require renewing if you want to continue using it). We've looked at SafeSync before and found it to be a decent online storage locker. In short, anything you save to the local SafeSync folder that's created will be synchronised (uploaded) automatically to the Web-based folder. If you install SafeSync on any other computers, then that synching process will work the other way and files from the cloud will be downloaded (or synched) to that computer. It's a good way to store any files that you want to be able to access from anywhere (including from iOS and Android devices via Trend Micro's apps) and even share it with others if you so choose.
Overall, Titanium Maximum Security offers one thing that's paramount for many users and that's a simple, easy to use interface. It's also not an intrusive program and it doesn't slow down a computer system noticeably (at least, it didn't in our tests). This ease of use comes at the expense of some nitty gritty details that we wish Trend Micro would provide, which would add to the peace of mind that the suite offers.
• If you want security for your Android smartphone, check our review of Trend Micro's Mobile Security Personal Edition
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