Trend Micro PC-cillin 14 Internet Security review
The maturity of Trend Micro PC-cillin 14 is apparent as soon as you insert the CD. Not only does it check for the existence of other firewalls that may cause system instability, but it also offers to remove them. Refuse and installation will abort, as they will even if only traces of something such as Norton are found; this is a common occurrence, as a Norton uninstall usually leaves the LiveUpdate component behind. PC-cillin will also turn off the Windows Firewall and perform a thorough malware scan, continuing with a quick and painless installation process.
Post install there isn’t quite such attention to detail: you’re presented with a ‘getting started’ tutorial, but the main control console doesn’t open automatically. We found that doing so triggered an update check, and a 13MB file was needed despite us downloading the app on the day of release. Subsequent updates are, of course, much smaller.
A vulnerability-check feature looks for OS and browser vulnerabilities, but doesn’t offer any information on what it finds – only a Microsoft Security Bulletin reference number for you to go and look up. However, we have no such qualms about the solid Antifraud Wizard, which is essentially a one-stop configuration shop for the fraud-protection components. These include things such as checking the status of real-time spyware protection, spam and fraud filters, web phishing filters, and even prompting for entry of credit card and bank account access passwords for the privacy-protection function.
We’ve always been impressed by the quality of Trend Micro Antivirus. The only notable change is an improvement to the Outbreak Warning System, which pushes alerts out to you if a new threat is in the wild and performs an automatic update to counter it. A pop-up manager in the Network Security section enables you to toggle all system pop-ups. The anti-virus tests were passed without problem, as were the barrage of firewall exploit tests. PC-cillin has one of the least conspicuous firewalls, with minimal configuration options, which just gets on with the job. Remote PC-cillin management of other computers on your network is possible, as is detection of potential intrusions into your wireless network.
Real-time spyware protection keeps what Trend Micro calls ‘Grayware’ apps at bay. By this, it means the likes of adware, diallers, remote access and hacking tools. The Anti-Spyware scanner is easily scheduled and configured, including a one-click option to configure exception lists. Although its spyware scanning has improved over last year’s tests, it fell short on detection (63 per cent) and removal (64 per cent), and so sadly must fail. We say sadly, because the blocking rate of 71 per cent is the highest we’ve seen.
In contrast, although PC-cillin passed our spam-filtering tests (detection, 92 per cent; false positives, 0.9 per cent), we aren’t overly happy with its execution. To start with, configuration is minimal, with just a low-to-high slider and a black/white list. But our real concern is the lack of junk/not junk toolbar buttons in Outlook; instead, Trend asks users to forward spam that isn’t tagged as such to an email address, and astonishingly it requests the same for messages incorrectly tagged as spam. Now excuse us, but we’re not sending copies of our confidential email to anyone.
We can’t accuse Trend Micro of not putting enough thought into the central control console. This is uncluttered, yet most advanced features are but a mouse-click or two away. From here, you get true component integration with access to every configuration and control option, plus system summaries. If the devil is in the detail, this should be PC-cillin 666. We love the fact, for example, that you can view all component logs from a single event log screen. Definition updates are also handled centrally; not only is this process seamless and quick, but you can change from the default three-hourly checks to variables between one and 48 hours as required. A ‘revert’ option automatically loads the last-known good configuration in case of problems. This was no doubt inspired by the corrupt update that caused chaos in Japan in April 2005, sending PC-cillin into a loop and consuming 100 per cent of system resources.