Security for Everyone - Reviewing Titanium Internet Security 2012

Even though we tested Trend Micro in the past, here at 7 Tutorials, I did not get the chance to use it for myself and test it on my own computers, prior to this review. When testing it, I was surprised to find a unique approach to computer security. Therefore, if you want to know more about Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security 2012, why is it unique and how effective it is, you should read this review.

First Impressions

Downloading the trial version of Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security 2012 is very easy. You don’t have to complete any information to download it, nor to install it and activate it. You first download a downloader - a practice which is very common nowadays with security vendors. Then this file downloads the actual setup program which is only 78.4MB in size.

The installation process requires very few clicks. This means that there is no "advanced/custom" installation you can customize. However, this is not necessarily a bad thing, as Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security 2012 installs itself and enables only the mandatory modules it needs to protect your computer. Less critical features like Parental Controls, Rescue Disk or Data Theft Prevention are either turned off or not installed. One great aspect about the installation process is that it doesn’t require a Windows restart. You are protected as soon as the installation is finished.

After installing the product, you are asked if you want to subscribe via e-mail to receive product news and offers. Luckily this is optional and you can go ahead without providing any personal information. This is a refreshing change compared to other vendors who try to get your personal information before you are able to use their products.

The main application window is very minimalistic and non-intimidating. Looking at the screenshots we took for the 2011 review, I noticed that the interface is mostly unchanged.

Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security 2012

The only big change is the possibility of skinning the main interface. You can choose from a set of predefined images that get applied to the main window of Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security 2012 or you can use a custom image from your computer. It’s a nice feature but unimportant when securing your system. I’m sure that some users will appreciate it though.

Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security 2012

Just like with the previous version, I could not help wonder where the update button is. The 2012 version uses the same Trend Micro Smart Protection Network introduced with previous versions, which is advertised to eliminate the need for updates and definition files. However, I did notice Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security 2012 restarting itself shortly after the initial installation. Most probably it downloaded some new versions of files it needed to function. So... it’s not like you don’t get ANY updates. This conclusion was reinforced by my finding of the Check for Program Updates option, when making a right click on the Trend Micro icon from the notification area.

Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security 2012

Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security 2012 downloads new versions of files and modules it needs to function correctly, which may contain bug fixes, new features, etc. Also, it requires a working Internet connection to get access to the Trend Micro cloud network which provides the latest security rules and definitions.

All-in-all I can say Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security 2012 makes a good first impression, especially to users who appreciate a straightforward installation process, without too many hoops to go through.

Integration with Windows

The good impression continued when testing the integration with Windows 7. The installation turned off Windows Defender but it left Windows Firewall enabled. I was surprised at first, but then I remembered that Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security 2012 doesn’t have a firewall module per-se. Instead, it uses the Windows Firewall and applies on top what they call the Firewall Booster.

Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security 2012

On the integration side, this is great, as it guarantees that all Windows networking features work well (Homegroup, network sharing, streaming, etc). My tests confirmed this to be the case.

Another positive aspect is the very small performance impact Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security 2012 has on your system. Its processes use 114 MB of RAM (which is higher than most suites) but the system always feels responsive. Also, the impact of boot timings is spectacularly low - only 1 second added if you are using the default Balanced Protection mode.

Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security 2012

When switching to Extra Security mode, the impact on boot timings is 11 seconds, which is in line with what you get from other security suites.

When reading the description of the Balanced Protection setting, I could not help thinking that a system receives very minimal protection during the boot procedure which, if your system is infected (especially with rootkits), might lead to Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security 2012 not being able provide proper protection. However, I was not able to test this hypothesis as I did not have the setup required for such tests.

Continuing with the review... I was happy to see that Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security 2012 protects its services well and they cannot be disabled either by the user or by other running processes. Also, it is well integrated with all major browsers, even though it doesn’t install any toolbars or special add-ons like other suites do. It equally blocked malicious websites and files on all the browsers I tested (Internet Explorer 9, Firefox, Google Chrome).

Important Findings

Before I start with the ease of use and configuration aspects, I would like to share some findings you will be interested in knowing. After using many security suites, I was expecting to get protection for instant messaging products (e.g. Yahoo Messenger, Windows Live Messenger, Skype, etc). This is not the case with Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security 2012. Such protection is not provided. For me, this is not a deal breaker as I tend to disable this kind of protection module. However, for people who are not very technical, this can be an important miss.

Also, if you read the Product Comparison chart provided on the official website, you might expect to get the System Tuner and SafeSync products included in Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security 2012 . This is not the case.

Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security 2012

In the main interface of Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security 2012 there is no reference or button for the System Tuner. I’m not sure why this feature is being marketed, as I did not notice any reports about cleaning up temporary files, registry keys, etc.

Also, SafeSync is a separate commercial product. It is not integrated with Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security 2012 and you only get a free 2 GB plan.

This ruined a bit my very good first impression, as the comparison chart created false expectations and did not provide true clarity on what you get for buying this product. The good part is that these products (System Tuner and SafeSync) are not relevant from a security perspective. They are only extras you might want to use.

Ease of Use & Configuration

As I mentioned before, Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security 2012 is a minimalistic suite. This translates into having only the bare minimum in terms of buttons and configuration options and a high ease of use for novices or people who don’t want to get technical. You have the standard malware scans (quick, full or custom), options for setting up exclusions (both for files and websites) and the possibility to edit the parameters of the default scheduled scan. Unfortunately, you cannot create new scheduled scans.

There are no advanced configuration options. For the virus and spyware protection you get the basics you would expect and for the firewall there’s nothing really to configure, except enabling or disabling the Firewall Booster. Novices will have no problems in configuring all the aspects of this suite. It makes for great usability but it might frustrate advanced users.

Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security 2012

You get alerts only when malware is detected. They are easy to understand and links are provided for more details.

Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security 2012

Also, the Windows Firewall is pretty quiet, alerting only when some unknown program needs Internet (or network) access.

The reports being shown are very high level and give a quick overview of what’s going on with your system. A link is also provided to access more detailed logs. However, they present information about detected threats or program updates, not about the status of each job, when it ran, how long it took, etc.

Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security 2012

In the Security Report you get a link for upgrading to the so called Premium Services. These are support packages you might want to purchase additionally, so that you get access to quick remote support in case of issues. These packages tend to cost more than the security suite itself though.

This convinced me to quickly test the support options provided with the suite, for free. The Support button takes you to the official support pages of Trend Micro. There you have access to their knowledge base with frequently asked questions plus video and text tutorials.

Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security 2012

However, phone support is not offered for free in all countries. Also, chat support is available only for some countries (mostly North America). Therefore, if you tend to need a bit of tech support once in a while, you should first research the options available for free, for your country. If you are not pleased with the free support provided, you should consider other security suites.

Firewall

On the firewall side there’s really not much to tell. Trend Micro is using the Windows Firewall and, in tests, the Firewall Booster did not seem to provide much in terms of additional protection. I searched a bit of information about it and I could find only this description of the Firewall Booster and what it does.

If you are looking for advanced firewall configuration options, read this tutorial: Manage Rules in Windows Firewall with Advanced Security.

Regarding its performance, it is identical to our previous Windows Firewall tests. When scanning with Nmap and Nessus, they found 7 open ports with a low security impact and identified both the operating system and the MAC address (a home network location was set). When I switched to the Public network location, no open ports where found and only the MAC was identified.

Antivirus and Antispyware Features

When testing the effectiveness of the antivirus & antispyware protection, I first browsed to a couple of malicious websites. Each attempt was promptly blocked by Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security 2012 in all major browsers.

Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security 2012

I also plugged in an infected USB memory stick. Unfortunately Trend Micro does not prompt users to make a scan of removable media. However, it does scan it as soon as you use it. This meant that the infected files were detected and removed gradually, as I browsed through the memory stick. The detection rate was good and the removal process worked well with each infected file.

Then, I made a full system scan on a 30GB system partition and it finished in only 3 minutes. This was by far, the fastest scan time I encountered in all of my testing.

While looking at what other independent organisations had to say about the effectiveness of Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security 2012, I found that both Virus Bulletin and AV-Test did not test this product. However, AV-Test reviewed the 2011 version and awarded the scores 4.5, 2 and 5.0 out of 6 for protection, repair and usability. 2.0 is a pretty weak result for cleaning and repairing a malware-infected computer. AV-Comparatives tested this suite and rated it Advanced+ in their detection tests. They also rated it as one of the top 10 products in their Anti-Phishing Tests.

Verdict

BUY for Everyone!

Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security 2012 stands out as an unique security product which aims to be as minimalistic as possible. Novices will be happy to get a product which is both very easy to use and a discreet presence on their computer. The performance impact is minimal and the scanning speed is one of the fastest you will ever get with a security suite. Trend Micro is also very well integrated with Windows 7 and all major Internet browsers. This helps in having a good computing experience, with less conflicts and frustration.

However, this product might not appeal to more advanced users who want granular control over their security suite and how it works. If you are a more of a control & customisation "freak", you should first test the trial version before purchasing it. The same recommendation goes for people who are interested in the additional bundles being marketed.

Purchasing Options

You can buy Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security 2012 from Amazon US or Amazon UK (for European readers). When you are buying from Amazon, we also receive a small affiliate commission which will help pay for some of our work on the site. A big thank you to all who are buying using these links.