December 17, 2010

First Look: Trend Micro Titanium Maximum Security 2011

 I recently installed Trend Micro's Titanium Maximum Security 2011 on a notebook PC. I haven't checked out all of the many features it claims to have, which, according to the Trend Micro website are:

Get essential protection
Protect your PC from viruses and spyware
Prevent unauthorized changes to your applications
Surf the web safely
Stop malicious downloads from websites
Find and block malicious links in emails or IMs
Block email and image spam
Windows firewall optimization
Authenticate wireless hotspots and WiFi networks
Protect your children online
Restrict Internet access by specific categories
Limit Internet access time and duration for children
Safely bank and shop online
Data theft prevention keeps your sensitive personal information, like credit card numbers and passwords safe
Securely erase files to US Government security standards
Remotely lock files in case of computer theft
Defend against advanced threats
Automatic warning against suspicious links in email and IM
Extend your security protection to smartphones
Maximize your PC performance
System tuner improves PC performance by cleaning up temporary files, registries, and the start-up manager
Cleans browser history, cookies and more to enhance performance
Backup & sync
Includes 10 GB of secure online backup with Sync and Sharing features

This is their all-inclusive product, which lists for $79.95 for 1 year of protection on up to 3 PC's. They also have versions with fewer features: Titanium Internet Security ($69.95 - 1 yr/3 PCs) and Titanium Antivirus+ ($39.95 - 1 yr/1 PC).

When I started to install the software it detected that I had another company's product already installed on the PC. It stated that the other (competitor's) product was incompatible and advised me to remove it. I said OK and it proceeded to remove the other product from the PC. Once that completed, I needed to reboot. Installation then took about half an hour on a PC running XP home with 1G of memory. Note that Trend Micro Titanium Maximum Security 2011 requires 500MB of available disk space in order for the installation to run.

Once everything was complete, I noticed that the Antivirus portion of the product did not appear to have been turned on by default. That seemed a bit strange. I tried to turn it on. I am not sure if my actions eventually got it to turn on or if it was simply a delay in turning on by the software itself.

I also encountered the following:

When running a scan of the computer, it automatically flagged and deleted perfectly harmless cookies. Most cookies are not harmful. (See this article: Not All Cookies Are Bad.)  Many cookies simply ensure, for example, that the place you are shopping at or that you linked from get the credit that they deserve. There are many websites that are solely funded by such information, and deleting and blocking such cookies robs many people of income they are entitled to. And even for technically knowledgeable and caring folks who would want to make sure such cookies were not deleted by telling such software not to do that, the Trend Micro product does not even provide such an option. Since a large majority of users would have no clue about this or that they were cheating legitimate businesses out of income because of this action, this is a serious overreach on the part of this vendor (and some others as well).

I contacted Trend Micro support via email regarding the above issue. Sadly, the initial response was in very poor English so it was difficult to figure out exactly what the response was. In essence, however, after several emails back and forth with Trend Micro support, I was essentially told that the product was smart enough to know a good cookie from a bad cookie (not true) and that after trying several times to make clear that (a) that was not true and in the meantime (b) I was looking for the option to tell the program to ignore cookies I knew to be safe, I finally was told they previously had such a feature but had removed it. The implication from at least one response was that I was wrong and the software could not possibly have deleted cookies that did no harm to the computer.

This product seems to have a variety of good and useful features and I may test some of them out and report back again on this product. I am, however, disappointed in the email support and the less than desirable approach regarding cookies.

Richard L. Kuper,
The Kuper Report

August 07, 2010

Did You Really Order That?

Dear Readers,

How well do you check your credit or debit card statements? Do you match every purchase against a receipt? Do you even get receipts for every single purchase?

Odds are you don't check your statements line by line, matching every receipt. Most likely you browse the items on the statement and if they look reasonable you go ahead and pay the bill.

This writer fits that description as well. There are two of us who share a credit card and once in a while I might question a purchase or two, and it may take some thinking -- but usually we figure out what the purchase was.

Well, there was a very small purchase of $12 that I noticed somewhere along the way but shrugged off because it was so small. Then I didn't notice it again until a recent bill when it dawned on me that I'd seen that purchase before. A bit of research showed that it had been showing up on our bill for over a year. In our case the purchase read:

SHOPPER DISCOUNTS 800-889-8776 CT $12.00

I contacted the credit card company and said I did not know what it was but that it seems to have been showing up on our statements for a while. They seemed unsurprised when they saw the entry and were easily (too easily) able to immediately reverse several of the charges. For the rest we needed to contact Shopper Discounts directly.

We contacted Shopper Discounts. They insisted we fill out a form that they would provide and they would determine whether or not to give back the rest of our money. I made them email the form. Of course, the form did not provide any way to actually state that this was a bogus recurring charge. I modified their form to clearly state that these were bogus charges. We also included a letter clearly stating we did not sign up for what is supposedly a membership in an online shopping site. (As readers of this newsletter know, this writer runs a separate online shopping site that is free for anyone to use, and so we would have no reason to join such a site to get the same great buys). We also clearly indicated that we were sending copies of our letter and form to the credit card company.

Here is what I eventually discovered. We made a purchase online some time ago at an online flower website (that no longer appears on At the end of the purchase process there was some kind of offer to save more money. The claim by Shopper Discounts is that we clicked on something and opted into this membership. That never happened. At best we might have clicked to see what the offer was. We never signed up.

The good news is we did get all our money back (but without any interest and without an apology).

In this writer's opinion this is a scam, and the credit card companies are apparently aware of it but choose to look the other way -- probably because if a cardholder doesn't notice and keeps paying (as we did for quite some time), the credit card company makes money too. And since the merchant seems somewhat willing to give back all the money to anyone who eventually complains, the credit card company does not consider it a scam. This must be very lucrative to both the credit card companies and to Shopper Discounts.

Beware! Check your statements very carefully.
And please note: I suspect that Shopper Discounts is only one such possible item that may show up on your statement -- so don't assume that if you do not see a charge from Shopper Discounts that you have not been hit by a similar scam.

Richard Kuper
The Kuper Report