Trend Micro Device Security Ultimate – the black box protecting your home network (review)

Trend Micro Device Security Ultimate combines a ‘black box’, some rather clever Home Network Security software and Trend Micro’s leading consumer products covering antivirus, identify theft protection, password manager, parental controls, VPN, Kid’s device security and a 24/7 helpdesk.

It’s an extensive suite selling for a hefty price. RRP for a 12-month subscription for 3/6/10 devices (more on that later – IoT devices are unlimited) is $312/382/399, but that includes the Home Network Security black box and App as well as everything else. Trend Micro currently (8 February 2023) has a sale at $222.54/263.14/328. If you buy a 2-year subscription, the sale price is $348.90/438.90/498.90. And renewals are significantly lower as you already own the black box (approx. cost $100).

Part of any CyberShack review is to assess value – price is what you pay, and value is what you get. And the good thing about this review is that I have been using the ‘Black box’ for a few years, so I know what it does and how effective it is. Let’s just say that I would not entertain a home network without it.

Australian Review Trend Micro Device Security Ultimate incorporating Home Network Security

WebsiteHome Page
Device Security Ultimate page
Home Network Security Black Box page
PriceAs above. Online AU shop.
Warranty2-years for the black box
CompanyTrend Micro (Wiki) Est 1988 is a Japanese cyber security software company with global headquarters in Tokyo, Japan and Irving, Texas, United States, and global R&D headquarters in Taipei, Taiwan. Other regional offices and R&D centres are located around East Asia, Southeast Asia, Europe, and North America. The company develops consumer and enterprise security software. Its cloud and virtualisation security products provide automated security for VMware, Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform customers. It developed Intel and Novell LANDesk, which gave it a significant lead in protecting networks.
MoreCyberShack Trend Micro news and reviews

We use Fail (below expectations), Passable (meets low expectations), Pass (meets expectations), Pass+ (near Exceed but not class-leading) and Exceed (surpasses expectations or is the class leader) against many of the items below. You can click on most images for an enlargement.

First Impression – Pass+

CyberShack seldom reviews software, so we will focus on the Home Network Security black box. We will list what the Device Security Ultimate Package does and have tested it on a test bed device for performance impacts – there were none.

It is 208.5mm x 161.5cm x 81.5cm and has a 12V/1A/12W adapter. Power use is negligible.

Privacy – Exceed

Paid cyber security software should be mandatory as it does much more than the free offerings, many of which are simply sucking up your personal data and monetising it, including the not-too-shoddy Microsoft Defender that, along with Microsoft Bing and Windows, should be classified as ‘spyware’. To be fair, that is no different to Apple macOS/iOS/Safari and Google Android/Chrome.

Trend Micro does not sell your data. It is fully EU GDPR and California Consumer Privacy Act compliant. Its data use statement ensures that any data collected is used to detect and stop threats. Over 250 million users generate a database showing new threats as they occur. And if you don’t want to participate, you can easily turn it off.

We have read all the privacy statements and are confident that your data is safe.

What does Device Security Ultimate do?

  • Cloud-based (early warning) endpoint anti-virus, malware, ransomware, dangerous public Wi-Fi, fraudulent website protection and financial transaction security for Windows, Android, macOS, and iOS. You need to buy the correct number of licences – one for each computing device (none required for IoT network devices). It is a premium anti-virus/malware solution.
  • ID Protection monitors the dark web for mentions of your email and other PII (personally identifiable data) like address, credit card number, passwords, or bank account details.
  • Secure VPN. Mainly used for Public Wi-Fi to encrypt data from your device to the website.
  • Password Manager does what most do with storing passwords, generating new ones, and checking if passwords are weak or overused.
  •  24/7 Support included (12/24 months normally $109.95/219.95) covering a huge range of services like operating system support, peripheral setup, IoT security, data backup and way more. Even if you only use it once, it will be cheaper than a tech call-out to your home.

We cannot review the effectiveness of these products compared to Norton, Kaspersky, McAfee etc., but we can report that it has 100% virus/malware detection in recent tests. It places no more load on system resources than Norton 360 Premium or Kaspersky. A full and fair review (Updated 23 January 2023) of the software suite is here.

Home Network Security – the black box

Using this for at least five years, it has been 100% effective in preventing home network incursions and IoT takeovers. It also includes parental controls (why control a parent?) to set kids’ use across devices (smart TVs, games consoles, smartphones – anything connecting to the network with an IP address). It also detects malicious websites, blocks dangerous file downloads, and stops unwanted remote device connection to the network. It also filters out external advertisement serving – you can browse faster and not be tracked.

To our knowledge, no other black box/App does this.

Setup – Pass

The black box is plugged into a LAN port on your modem/router. Once powered up, the Trend Micro Home Network Security app for Android or iOS detects the box and asks for a 16-digit pairing code on the box. From that point, you don’t need to access the box again.

The App default settings are fine, although I turn off New Device Access Approval as I test lots of devices, and it can be a pain to approve them all (but you may want to leave it on after it is all set up). I also turn off Surveys.

It now protects everything from the modem/router/gateway on the Wi-Fi or Ethernet network. That includes things attached to Mesh satellites, route extenders, and Ethernet over Powerline devices.

You can read Trend Micro’s setup blog here.  

One caveat. You cannot control multiple HNS stations from the same smartphone or tablet.

What the back box does

Basically, it inspects all network traffic for nasties (called Intrusion prevention). These nasties are identified from a cloud database that is instantly updated, so you are protected from when a new one is found – unless you are patient 0!

It finds all devices in your network IP range. Identifying devices is handy – you can see if there are ‘strange devices’ on the network and track them down. It generally manages to associate a correct name to the device, but if not, you can use network sniffer software to track the device down.

It stops internal IoT attacks – one device trying to infect another.

You can allocate devices to people or groups and track activity like down/uploads per person or device. You can block a device if you wish.

Once set up, it puts all activity in a timeline format, making it easy to see and act.

It also watches each device for downloads and shows these separately. You can find data hogs!

It does a few other interesting things

  • Keeps a log of network traffic.
  • Identifies the most attacked device/s. In this case, it is the Netgear Orbi RBE960 Router which means that it is imperative to keep patches up to date as Orbi does.
  • Allows you to allocate ownership of devices to users or shared.
  • Helps identify devices and rename them for easy identification later.
  • Run a check on all connected devices (detects new devices and looks for weak Admin passwords).
  • Supports Google Assistant and Alexa (basic commands like “OK, Google, what did Ray do today?”. It can also stop/ resume internet access for devices belonging to defined family members or groups, “OK, Google, pause Ray’s access,” or even prevent a family member from accessing certain websites.

Over the past five years, it has stopped countless Mirai Botnet attacks trying to turn IoT into zombie email servers and DDOS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks. Mirai and its ilk seem to like anything with a built-in web server setup page, like printers, security camera hubs, smart TVs and smart speakers.

Negligible impact on network speed – Pass+

We have tried to measure the impact on network and internet speed, but it is so tiny as to be insignificant. That is on a 100/20Mbps NBN FTTN connection using Netgear Orbi RBKE963 Quad-band Wi-Fi 6E AX 11000 mesh. However, if you suspect it is slowing things down, you can change modes in Settings. There is a help page that has most popular routers and the suggested mode setting. Gamers also have a unique Game Mode to give them priority.

What it does not do

It is not antivirus/malware endpoint protection – it is network protection. The other features are part of the Trend Micro Device Security Ultimate app.

CyberShack’s view – Trend Micro Device Security Ultimate is peace of mind

The best recommendation is that I use Home Network Security – I would not be without it. In the past, my network has experienced thousands of attacks and warnings about visiting poisoned or ransomware sites. It also helped find a corrupted IoT device making DoS attacks.

The only way to get the black box now is as part of Trend Micro Device Security Ultimate. In the past, you could buy the box and a subscription to the HNS app.

But it is an excellent value when I see the whole package, including endpoint protection outside the home, 24/7 technical support and the box.

Before you make up your mind, download the free Trend Micro HouseCall for Windows, macOS, iOS or Android. It is a small taste of what the black box can do.

For the techies. Its VPN is no substitute for Private Internet Access or similar and not really for torrents. Its Password Manager is good but not as comprehensive as LastPass.

Rating Explanation

We are not able to give the overall package a rating but suffice it to say it would not be far off 10/10. The Black Box – 11/10.