Trend Micro Titanium steels itself for 2012

Trend Micro's 2012 suites expand the cloud tech to include fake antivirus detection and a bevvy of extras.

Trend Micro overhauled its security suites last year to great success. The company changed everything about the programs, from introducing a cloud-based detection engine on up through an interface with fast transitions and even the name, rebranding the suites as Trend Micro Titanium. Available exclusively today from CNET, this year's Titanium Maximum Security 2012 (download), Titanium Internet Security 2012 (download), and Titanium AntiVirus Plus 2012 (download) offer far fewer and far less dramatic changes, but they do include some improvements that ought to keep the suite competitive.

In addition to last year's Smart Protection Network, which forms the heart of the Trend Micro's cloud-based detection by creating a real-time, always-updated database of user security encounters, two new engines have joined the fold. One is designed to detect and remove the "fake antivirus" malware, also known as ransomware, that plagues many. The other stops botnets that might've infected your computer.

Value-added enhancements cover both the useful, like bundling one free license for Trend Micro's SmartSurfing for Mac, and the gimmicky, like a selection of new interface skins for the Windows version. Does anybody spend so much time in their security suite that they want to skin it?

There's SafeSync for storing files online and syncing them among your various devices, and Trend Micro considerately gives you a decent 10 GB to play with if you buy Titanium Maximum Security. Titanium Internet Security users get 2 GB. You also get a local encrypted vault for file protection. There's a PC optimizer that cleans your Registry and temp files, and deletes browsing history and cookies. Of course, your browser does that, too.

One excellent "extra" is mobile security. Titanium Maximum Security 2012 comes with free licenses for iOS and Android security apps, which offer lost phone tracking, antivirus, and SMS blockers. The Trend Micro toolbar for Firefox and Internet Explorer warns you about malicious links posted to Facebook and Twitter, as well as search, although there's no support yet for Google Chrome.

When it comes to benchmarks, Trend Micro 2012 was frustratingly uneven. Its Quick Scan was the fastest CNET Labs has tested so far this year, with the slowest of the Titanium suites coming in at more than 400 seconds faster than the second-fastest suite, and they also had the lightest touch on computer shutdown times. However, Titanium had the biggest impact on system boot times, with the Titanium suite that was fastest at boot still adding 20 seconds more than the next-slowest competitor. In the era of security suite-free Windows 7 computers that often take no more than 30 to 40 seconds to boot, and tough competition from Macs and Chromebooks that can boot in 20 to 30 seconds, doubling a computer's boot time is unacceptable.

Trend Micro Titanium 2012 looks nearly identical to the Titanium suites from 2011. (Credit: Screenshot by Seth Rosenblatt/CNET)

Third-party labs that look at the efficacy of virus detection and removal found Trend Micro 2012 equally uneven. While scoring high on threat detection and blocking, and earning low false positive scores, the Titanium suites did not do well on infection removal.

Price-wise, Trend Micro Titanium Maximum Security retails for $79.95; Titanium Internet Security retails for $69.95; and Titanium AntiVirus Plus retails for $39.95. These prices skew towards the higher-end of security suites, and are in the same ballpark as Kaspersky and Norton. However, online deals can often be found for cheaper.

Basically, Trend Micro Titanium Maximum Security's a good, solid security option if you've got a nice, shiny new computer and you don't want anything to happen to it, see? But if you've got either an Android or an iOS device, the free mobile security is a sweet cherry on top to have.