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4 security suites that protect all your devices

September 6, 2012 06:00 AM ET

Trend Micro Titanium Maximum Security

Trend Micro
Annual fee: $53.00
OSes protected: Windows, OS X, Android, iOS, Symbian
No. of devices protected: Three computers (PCs and/or Macs) and an unlimited number of mobile devices

As with the other suites reviewed here, Trend Micro Titanium Maximum Security 2012 offers a host of tools that pretty much covers everything you might want, including malware protection, a firewall, parental controls and quite a few extras. It protects Windows-based PCs and Macs, along with Android, iOS and Symbian devices.

Web interface

Trend Micro Titanium Maximum Security
Trend Micro Titanium Maximum Security: Web interface
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The software falls short when it comes to having an all-in-one dashboard for managing your protection on all of your devices. From your Trend Micro account on the Web, you'll be able to see what software is installed on each device and install the software on other devices, but nothing beyond that.

Windows protection

As befits software with a six-word name, Trend Micro packs just about every security-related tool into it you can imagine, as well as some useful non-security related ones.

It goes beyond the usual malware/spyware/Trojan scanning and includes parental controls, a firewall, a tool to protect important files from being erased, another that password-protects important folders and a system tune-up tool. You also get 10GB of free backup.

With all these features, you might expect a packed and confusing interface, but that's not the case. The software takes a layered approach to its options. The main console is made up of a relatively small window that shows the current security state of your system as well as a security summary that offers info such as what threats the software has taken action against, and links to the Parental Controls and System Tuner modules. In addition, you'll see when your subscription expires. The console is clean, neat and easy to follow.

For more in-depth information, head to the bottom of the screen, where you'll find a compact set of icons for performing a variety of actions, such as initiating a system scan, viewing a security report or gaining access to the program's many other tools.

I found the security report especially illuminating. It displays a graph showing you what actions the software has taken to protect you over time; for example, finding and killing spyware. You can view similar reports for Parental Controls and the System Tuner.

Trend Micro Titanium Maximum Security
Trend Micro Titanium Maximum Security: Windows
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Parents who believe in Parental Controls will be particularly pleased to see that the report shows the categories of sites blocked (i.e., whether they are sexual in nature, violent, drug-related and so on), as well as specific websites that have been blocked.

I didn't expect a great deal from the System Tuner, because I've tried many types of this kind of software and they frequently do less than they promise. I was pleasantly surprised, though -- Trend Micro's version does all the right things, such as cleaning out the Registry, deleting unnecessary files and checking to see whether unnecessary programs launch on startup.

As set up, the software's security settings worked quite well, but those who like to fiddle are able to. There are not as many options here as dedicated tweakers might like, but it does well for the basics. For example, you can choose how aggressively the program should check for Web-based threats (three settings: Low, Normal and High), and you can similarly decide whether you want it to attempt to filter spam and threats in emailed attachments. You can also exclude folders from security scans.

OS X protection

Trend Micro Titanium Maximum Security
Trend Micro Titanium Maximum Security: OS X
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Trend Micro's Smart Surfing for Mac is the least comprehensive of the Mac security software covered in this roundup -- for one thing, it lacks a firewall. It does, however, offer simple-to-use, basic protection. Included is a malware scanner and protection against phishing and malicious software found on websites. The Web threat protection is customizable and can be set to Low, Normal or High. There's also a customizable family filter for blocking sites rated according to sexual content, illegal drug mentions, violence and so on.

One thing to be careful of: It appears that there are a number of different bundles of Trend Micro Titanium Maximum Security 2012, some of which don't contain Smart Surfing for the Mac. (For example, I wrongly thought the version I had included Smart Surfing -- it didn't.) So if you decide to buy the suite and you have a Mac, double-check to make sure it's included in your bundle.

Android protection

Trend Micro Titanium Maximum Security
Trend Micro Titanium Maximum Security: Android
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The security suite falls short when it comes to mobile security: It's not really the integrated mobile/PC solution it claims to be. I was unable to activate the Android protection it promised on my phone, and you may well have the same problem.

In order to install the mobile protection on a smartphone, you're supposed to log into your Trend Micro account on the Web, choose your mobile device from a drop-down list, and then follow instructions for installing and activating your mobile protection on the device. However, when I did that, I found only Symbian smartphones on the list -- there were no Android devices, iOS devices or Windows Phone 7 devices.

After a significant amount of searching on the Trend Micro site, I found instructions that said to install the protection software on the device yourself as you would any other app -- for example, in the case of Android devices, straight from Google Play. After you install the software, you type the suite's registration key into the app and then enable it. Only then will the full version of the software work. (A stripped-down version, which only scans apps for malware, is free -- you can also try the full version for 30 days.)

However, the app refused to accept my registration key. Eventually, I downloaded the app as an .APK (Android application package) file from the Trend Micro site, transferred the file to my Android device, installed it and then used the registration code, and it turned into a premium version with no problems.

The premium version includes the ability to locate a lost Android device, wipe it remotely and make it "scream" to chase away the person who's found it. In addition, it has parental control features and can block specific websites, phone calls and text messages. The app-scanning and remote security features are standard for Android security tools; parental controls and the ability to block specific websites, phone calls and text messages are nice extras.

iOS protection

Trend Micro Titanium Maximum Security
Trend Micro Titanium Maximum Security: iOS
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The iOS portion of the suite (called Smart Surfing, like the OS X module) is, like Webroot's iOS app, pretty much a one-trick pony. As its name indicates, it's a secure browser that protects against malicious websites and any evil that can result to one's gadgets from visiting those places. Even if you don't buy the suite, you can download and use it for free.

To get that benefit, users must do all their Web surfing via the Trend Micro app on their iPhone and not use Safari or another browser. In one case, Trend Micro blocked a legit site that I was able to enter via Safari (and, luckily, it turned out to be a legit site). Users can set, and later change, the danger level of the spam filter.

In my admittedly limited testing, Smart Surfing appeared to protect well enough against sites that were either virus-laden or spammy in some sense. In these cases, Trend Micro took me to a screen on my iPhone that said that visiting this site might put my security at risk, and that the Web page was rated "dangerous."

At the same time, though, the app allowed me to access "adult content" sites. So it didn't block everything, just what it deemed dangerous to the wellbeing of my smartphone if not my psyche.

--Johanna Ambrosio

Bottom line

If you're looking for a PC-protection program, Trend Micro Titanium Maximum Security 2012 offers a comprehensive set of tools. It's all presented in a neat, clean, easy-to-manage package. But the Mac protection is the least comprehensive of all those I tested, and I encountered problems installing the Android version. Its Web-based dashboard leaves much to be desired as well.



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