Trend Micro Mobile Security Personal Edition
An easy to use security and anti-theft suite for Android smartphones
Trend Micro's Mobile Security Personal Edition app is worth considering if you want some peace of mind when it comes to the security of your smartphone. It features a real-time app scanner and Web site filtering that can detect malware, and it's also able to block nuisance (and premium) calls and unwanted text messages. Most importantly though, it can be used to track, lock or even wipe a lost phone.
- Easy to use
- Remote lock and wipe
- Parental controls
- Documentation and support is poor
- Tracking sometimes way off
Trend Micro's Mobile Security suite for Android phones is worth considering if you want an easy way to track, lock or wipe your phone if it ever gets lost or stolen. It also has call and SMS blocking features, as well as real-time app scanning and Web filtering. We think it's a nice little app for the most part, but think it could use better documentation and support.
Price$ 29.95 (AUD)
Requirements and setup
The app is available for Android phones using version 2.2 or above and requires around 8MB of storage space. While it was running, it used up 14MB of memory. We didn't notice any slow-down in performance while running the software in the background on our HTC Rhyme test phone — it felt as swift and responsive as it did when it ran without the security software — and we didn't notice a significant hit on battery life (our charging routine remained the same). You can download the app for free and use a 30-day trial, and if you like it you can purchase a 12-month subscription for $30 or a 2-year subscription for $50 (less than the Kaspersky equivalent).
It's a very simple app to use and there aren't many settings that you can manipulate. A drawback of the app's simplicity is that some features aren't properly explained and we also noticed that support pages for this product were next to non-existent at the time of writing. Clicking the 'support' link from the Web site took us to a page full of Trend Micro's products, but Mobile Security was not one of them. Going to the product page, only a white paper and a data sheet were available.
You can track and lock your phone through the ilostmyandroid Web site and, like the app itself, it's a very simple piece of work. There are four things you can do: locate your smartphone, make it scream for a minute, lock it and also wipe all the data off it. It uses a combination of GPS and Wi-Fi to locate a lost phone and display its location on Google Maps, but it wasn't always a smooth process. It often took the app a few goes before it would pin-point the phone up to 150m away from our actual location. However, it once found it a few suburbs away, which was disturbing. Nevertheless, it found it reasonably accurately most of the time. In comparison, the Lookout Mobile Security app for Android found our phone with much less hassle.
Locking down the phone can happen in one of two ways: either you can send the lock command from the Trend Micro Web site, or you can enable the SIM card lock feature, which locks the phone as soon as the SIM card is swapped out for another one. The Lock feature could use some better documentation though. When we attempted to lock our phone while it was switched off, a little bubble came up saying this could not be done and that we should try again later. However, it doesn't tell you that the lock command will be sent as soon as the phone once again establishes itself on the Internet. In this instance, it takes about a minute before the device gets locked down. You can unlock a device that has been locked down by entering a code.
A Scream feature is available, which we suppose will be annoying if the phone is in the hands of a thief, and it will sound for one minute. But perhaps the most useful feature is the contact information that can be displayed on the lock screen. You can customise this information easily through the app's Option screen. If someone nice has found your phone, they will see your email address and can attempt to contact you and organise for your phone to be returned. At the very least it will make it a lot easier for the police to track you down if your lost phone is ever handed in to them.
Parental controls can be enabled to ensure that kids don't browse Web content that they're not supposed to. There are three settings: child, pre-teen and teen. Porn sites, sites infected with spyware and known phishing sites will all be blocked, but so will sites that have been categorised as being about violence and other anti-social behaviours. Teens get a pass when it comes to looking at sites about gambling, weapons and drugs. Some sites can be added to an approved list to make sure that they don't get blocked.
With all these features, you still shouldn't forego a passcode for your phone. In many cases, this will be enough to thwart thieves. However, the Trend Micro solution encompasses a lot more than theft protection: its real-time scanning of apps and Web sites is useful, especially for parents, and we like the overall functionality of the tracking and theft features, especially the ability to display contact info on the lock screen. We did get frustrated by the tracking sometimes, but for the most part that was okay as well. We do hope that better support and documentation becomes available for this app though, even if it is very easy to use. All up, it's a decent app, and it should especially appeal to parents who want to provide their kids with a secure smartphone solution.
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