When you go shopping for a security suite you expect to get at least firewall protection, antivirus, and antispam. Trend Micro includes all of those features in their entry-level antivirus product, along with antiphishing, social network protection, and more. Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security 2013 offers all the same protection and adds data protection, parental control, and a system tuner.
Trend Micro proved quite a bit more effective when challenged to keep new malware from infecting a clean system. Like SecureIT Plus and Daily Safety Check Home Edition Best Deal: at , it detected fully 97 percent of the threats, either immediately on sight or when I tried to launch them. SecureIT Plus topped this test with a score of 9.7 point. Like AVG Internet Security 2013 Best Deal: at and several others, Trend Micro scored 9.3. See How We Test Malware Blocking for an explanation of my scoring system.
To round out my evaluation of antivirus protection I usually refer to test results from the independent labs. However, Trend Micro doesn't participate in most of the lab tests I reference. My standard lab results chart, shown below, refers to a company's technology rather than to a specific product, as the labs perform their tests over time. My own tests show the 2013 edition substantially improved over the 2012 edition, and indeed the August results from AV-Test using 2013 are substantially better than July results using 2012. For more about the labs and their tests, see How We Interpret Antivirus Lab Tests.
I did experience quite a few false positives—valid programs identified as malicious. Programs I wrote myself and brand-new versions of programs from other security vendors alike were quarantined. The best antivirus tools manage to block just the bad guys without mistakenly blocking valid programs.Good Protection Against Phishing and Spam
As noted, the entry-level antivirus includes antiphishing and a spam filter; the full suite offers the same protection. Both of these components scored very well in my tests, but not at the very top.
In my antiphishing test, Trend Micro's detection rate lagged 16 percentage points behind that of antiphishing champion Norton, and beat Internet Explorer by 28 percentage points. Given that almost two thirds of recent products aren't even as accurate as Internet Explorer alone, that's pretty good. Note, though, that Kaspersky's accuracy was extremely close to Norton's, and Bitdefender Total Security 2013 came in just one percentage point behind. The article How We Test Antiphishing explains how I locate the newest phishing sites and calculate each product's accuracy.
Trend Micro's spam filter integrates with all of the Microsoft email clients to filter spam from POP3 email accounts. It didn't slow the initial downloading of email messages. However, processing those messages to filter out spam took three times as long as the initial download. Since my test involved many thousands of messages, I had to let it run overnight.
The spam filter misfiled a mere 0.2 percent of valid mail as spam, and allowed under 11 percent of undeniable spam into the Inbox. That's better than most suites. However, Norton didn't file any good mail as spam and only missed 5.3 percent of spam. AVG missed just 3.4 percent, though it did flag a few valid messages as spam. For information on how I test spam filtering products, read How We Test Antispam.
Other Shared Features
Installing the suite automatically installs the Trend Micro Toolbar, which highlights links in results from popular search engines with green or red to indicate that they're safe or dangerous. Like the similar Kaspersky feature, it can optionally mark up links on other pages. Instead of shoehorning a safety icon onto every link, it waits for you to hover over the link before marking it.
The Social Networking Protection feature does the same for links in the most common social networking sites. In addition, you can run a scan on your Facebook account privacy settings to get notification of any that may not be configured correctly.
Most suites include a full-scale personal firewall. Trend Micro's Firewall Booster relies on the built-in Windows Firewall to stealth the PCs ports and handle incoming hack attacks. It doesn't attempt program control, figuring that since the antivirus component will wipe out any malicious programs others should be allowed Internet access. It also doesn't block exploits at the network level. On the plus side, I couldn't disable it by attacking in ways that a malicious program might.Data Protection
Present in the full suite but not in the entry-level antivirus, Data Protection consists of two features designed to keep your personal data from falling into the wrong hands. Like Panda Internet Security 2013 and others, it can prevent transmission of user-defined confidential data from your computer. This is especially useful on a computer used by kids, as you can keep them from revealing things like your home address or telephone number.
To start, you enter as many confidential items as you want on the Data Theft Prevention Page. For each item you'll enter a description (which the program calls a "category") along with all or part of the confidential data. Once you've typed in the confidential data, Trend Micro stores it in encrypted form and never displays it again.
If the program detects one of your confidential items is about to be transmitted from the PC, it pops up a warning. You can click a link and enter the master password to override this warning; the kids won't be able to do that.
The flip side of data protection is secure deletion. When you just delete a file in Windows, it goes into the Recycle Bin where any investigator could find it. Even if you empty the Recycle Bin, forensic software can often recover deleted files. Using Quick Erase will overwrite the file's data and then delete it, bypassing the Recycle Bin. If you select Permanent Erase, it overwrites the data seven times with different patterns of bits, making recovery physically impossible. In either case, you invoke this feature by selecting it from a file's right-click context menu.
There's one more small component to the suite's data protection. You can click a link to launch a free trial of the Trend Micro DirectPass Best Deal: at password manager. If you only have five passwords to remember, the free trial may be enough for you.
Trend Micro's parental control system can manage all users on a PC or manage each Windows account separately; your choice. If you share a family PC with the kids, you'll definitely want to set them up with their own accounts.
The content filtering component can block access to inappropriate websites in over 30 categories; you can also select the Child, Pre-teen, or Teen profile for easy configuration. For tighter content restriction you can block any sites that haven't yet been rated. There's also an option to force activation of the Safe Search option in search sites that support it.
The content filtering works at a level below the browser, so the kids won't evade it by using an off-brand browser. A simple network command that disables a few lower-end content filters has no effect on Trend Micro. However, it can't filter secure (HTTPS) content, so a clever teen who finds a secure anonymizing proxy can surf freely without any blocking or monitoring.
Parents worry about kids visiting inappropriate websites, but they also worry about kids just spending too much time online. With Trend Micro's parental control parents can define a weekly schedule for when each child is allowed on the Internet using either a simple weekday/weekend system or a full week grid. There's also an option to limit total daily Internet time for weekdays and for weekends. I couldn't fool the scheduler by tweaking the computer's system time.
In addition to content filtering and Internet time scheduling, parents can set a schedule for when kids are allowed to use specific programs. For example, you might ban the use of instant messaging programs during the homework hour. If you set a program's schedule to blocked at all times, the child simply won't be able to use it. And your child can't evade program control by renaming or copying the file.
Kaspersky, too, lets parents schedule program usage, but it goes Trend Micro one better. With Kaapersky you can view a report of what programs the child has been using, with a direct link to block or time-limit any program in the list.
Trend Micro's parental control report simply summarizes the most-blocked websites, with a chart showing a breakdown of blocked categories. Clicking "View detailed logs" gets a list of all blocked websites, along with the date/time stamp and the name of the user who attempted access.
With Trend Micro you get the basics of parental control—content filtering and Internet access scheduling. It doesn't control or monitor instant messaging, doesn't allow remote management, and doesn't notify parents of violations. Social networking protection isn't built in, but there's a link to start a free trial of Trend Micro Online Guardian for Families, which specifically focuses on social networking.System Tuner
When a PC starts to lag performance-wise, users often blame the security software. Perhaps that's why many security suites include some form of system tuneup. Launched from the PC/Mobile tab, Trend Micro's System Tuner works to speed your system by clearing out clutter.
The System Tuner seeks out and deletes useless temporary files and other disk space wasters, and it eliminates erroneous and unnecessary items from the Registry. For privacy, you can choose to have it wipe Internet cookies and history, recently-used file lists for popular applications, and instant messaging history.
The optional Startup programs tuner will eliminate startup shortcuts that point to nonexisting programs, so Windows doesn't waste time trying to find those programs. You can also reversibly disable programs that launch at startup. The similar feature in Norton offers the option to delay launch for specific programs. Trend Micro doesn't include a delay, but it does have the ability to reversibly block the launch of non-critical Windows services too.
The first time you run System Tuner it will offer to set a monthly schedule for regular tuneups. You can check the security report window at any time to see just when the last tuneup happened, and what it did.
Some Impact on Performance
With all their protective features running in the background, it's no surprise that security suites sometimes impact system performance. Modern suites don't blatantly bring the system to a grinding halt; that kind of behavior stopped many years ago. But they can have measureable effects.
My boot time test measures the time from the start of the boot process until Windows is ready to use, defined as ten seconds in a row with less than five percent CPU usage. Averaging 100 tests with and without Trend Micro installed, I found that booting up with Trend Micro takes 14 percent longer. The average suite adds 13 percent to the boot time, so that's not bad.
Another test times a script that fully loads 100 varied websites, one after another. That test actually seemed to take slightly less time with Trend Micro installed. Certainly it didn't slow the browsing process.
The realtime antivirus component in most security tools checks files on any access. This has the potential to slow day-to-day file manipulation, so for testing I time two file manipulation scripts. One moves and copies a lot of files between drives, the other zips and unzips those same files. I was a bit surprised to find that the file move/copy test took 57 percent longer under Trend Micro's care. The only recent product that had more of an effect on this test was Panda Cloud Antivirus Pro Edition 2.0. A glitch in the program's code (since fixed, as far as I know) made the move/copy test take more than twice as long.
Trend Micro's drag on the zip/unzip test was quite a bit less, just 24 percent. However, the average for that test among recent suites is 16 percent.
This is not to say that Trend Micro will drag down performance. Chances are good you won't notice any difference. It's just not the total lightweight that Webroot SecureAnywhere Complete is. Webroot averaged just one percent slowdown across my four performance tests. For a more detailed description of my performance tests, see How We Test Security Suites for Performance.
Wide Range of Features
Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security 2013 offers everything you'd expect in a security suite, with no weak components to drag it down. Antivirus protection in particular is better than in the previous edition, and its unique Facebook privacy checker stands out.
Trend Micro's penchant for flagging files as malware simply because it's never seen them before bothers me, though. And although all of its components are good, the same components in the very best suites are better. Our Editors' Choice honorees for security suite remain the traditional Norton Internet Security (2013) and the tiny, non-traditional Webroot SecureAnywhere Complete.
This review is in partnership with PCMag.com.