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Trend Micro Smart Surfing for Mac Review

Posted on May 14, 2011

Smart Surfing for Mac from Trend Micro promises to deliver Fort Knox-level virus protection while offering parental controls to keep your kids safe on the Internet. Does it deliver?
What is Trend Micro Smart Surfing?

Trend Micro Smart Surfing for Mac is dual-purpose protection software from the security experts at Trend Micro. It offers virus and malware protection and scanning as well as parental controls, packing two popular security solutions into one package. While Macs are known for their excellent built-in firewall and other security features, there are many reasons why a Mac owner may need a product like Trend Smart Surfing:

1. Protect against "soft" threats firewalls often cannot catch, like phishing scams, links in emails to dangerous websites, spyware, and more.
2. Block websites you find objectionable for children.

Installation and Setup

If you have an older Mac, you're in luck. Smart Surfing runs on everything from G4 PowerPc processors to modern Intel chips, and on OS X Tiger 10.4.11, Leopard (10.5), and Snow Leopard (10.6). A minimum of 512 MB of RAM and 400 MB of hard disk space are recommended, both of which are very small footprint requirements on even older Macs.

The download comes as a disk image (.dmg) that contains a package installer and user support folder. While applications installed from a package are more difficult to delete than applications installed using the drag-and-drop method, Trend Micro includes an uninstaller program. It's a thoughtful touch that makes up for the minor inconvenience of a package installer. Installation goes smoothly and quickly, placing a Smart Surfing icon in your top menubar. This top menubar icon offers quick access to scanning tools, preference panes, and application help.

Setup is a snap. Smart Surfing's presets may be all you need out of the gate. The default settings on installation are "Normal" level surfing protection — i.e., medium-strength protection — and "Teenager" parental control level. Those with young children or different surfing protection needs will want to make changes in the respective dialogs.

No mere Windows port, Smart Surfing appears to have been built from the ground up with Mac sensibility. For the most part, it adheres to Apple's interface standards, refreshing in a market glutted with clunky-looking multi-port applications that use one interface for two or more operating systems.

There are two main dialogs in Smart Surfing: the application dialog, which consists of 4 sections (Overview, Web, Scans, and Logs) and the Preferences pane, which is where you set scanning preferences, schedule scans, and updating preferences. While not a hardship once you're used to it, consolidating these dialogs into one area would improve user-friendliness. Once in the dialogs, however, the options are easy to understand and select.

Online Threat Protection

Trend Micro Smart Surfing for Mac promises to guard against several forms of online security threats, including:

·    Phishing scams
·    Links in emails and IM conversations linking to malicious websites
·    Spyware and other malware
·    Viruses, worms, Trojan horses

Those first two items are the most germane to Mac users. Less-savvy Internet users can easily mistake a phishing scam for the real thing, and often innocently click any link sent their way. Installing Smart Surfing will keep these dangers from appearing entirely, keeping your Mac safer.

Smart Surfing uses four levels of risk assessment when deciding whether a website or link is safe, and you can tweak your settings along these lines to allow only what's known to be completely safe or to allow more leeway in your family's surfing habits.

Parental Controls

Smart Surfing's parental controls act as a watchful eye over your children's Internet activity by allowing you to fine-tune their access. For instance, you can restrict access based on website category, a feature unique to Smart Surfing. Sites categorized as Adult, Gambling, Racist, or Hacking, for example, can all be blocked or unblocked with a simple checkbox.

You can also block access to chat and instant messaging (IM) websites, as well as any website you choose. The Website Filtering tab allows you to add or remove websites to an Approved or Blocked list. While Smart Surfing comes with its own set of defaults, you can customize those two lists with up to 500 websites each of your own choosing. And since it's impossible to access or change anything in Smart Surfing unless you input an admin password, your children won't be able to undo your settings.


In addition to blocking malware and offering parental controls, Smart Surfing will also perform regular virus scans on your hard drive. There are three ways to scan:

·    Real-time scanning checks for malware any time your Mac receives a file. Trend Micro recommended keeping this option enabled.
·    On-demand scanning does scans when want them done
·    Scheduled scanning checks your files at designated, scheduled days and times

When it finds malware, Smart Surfing will first attempt to remove it. If that fails, it will quarantine the file, making it unopenable but also unable to do harm. If that fails, it will delete the file. These settings can be customized as well, say, if you don't want your virus scanner deleting files before you see them. This customizability adds to Smart Surfing's ease of use, making it simple to tailor to any user's tastes.

User Support

Trend Smart Surfing comes with extensive help files, found under the application's Help menu as well as in the menubar icon's menu. It's a treat to find a Windows developer paying attention to Mac interface conventions and remembering to create integrated help files in the proper places.

If, after consulting the application and online help files, users still have questions, Trend Micro offers friendly, Philippines-based telephone support. Hold times on a weekday morning (Eastern time) were under a minute to reach a human in tech support.

Is Trend Smart Surfing For You?

Trend Smart Surfing is a good value in the personal computer security market, offering both malware protection and parental control software in one package for a one-time $49.95 fee. Free lifetime security updates are included, and the software comes with a 100% 30-day money back guarantee when purchased through Trend Micro's online store.
For home users who want both antivirus and parental control software for their Mac in one convenient package, Trend Smart Surfing fits the bill. With a nearly-perfect native Mac interface, free updates, and easy-to-set controls at an affordable price, Smart Surfing does the job of several software packages in one.


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