|Norton Internet Security|
Probably the best-known brand of all anti-virus products, Symantec’s Norton Anti Virus, Internet Security and 360 offerings give increasing levels of protection against Internet-based threats.
Norton Internet Security (NIS) sits midway up the scale and offers antivirus, anti-spyware, anti-spam, two-way firewall, browser protection, parental control and identity safeguards. It’s available in one and three PC licenses and is currently at discount. If you need online storage or PC tune-up as well, Symantec can offer Norton 360 for a bit more cash.
Symantec has decided to remove the date designation to this year's Internet Security (IS) releases (we’ve kept it in), which makes it harder to ensure you're buying the latest product and looks like a mistake to us. It's a case of buyer beware, so make sure you're getting an up-to-date license.
The vast multitude of online activity facets, along with being fun and engaging, has an inalienable dark side which you might not necessarily be able to take note of when surfing the web. It’s namely the Internet environment that cybercrime is largely concentrated in, the intricate malign techniques focusing on black hat search engine optimization, social networks exploiting, phishing scams, websites compromising, stealing one’s credentials and financial details, ‘conventional’ hacking deployment, and lots of other areas.
Symantec Corporation has got a riposte of its own to these dangers and challenges – the award-winning Norton Internet Security software which goes beyond regular antivirus protection, covering the entirety of online realms that pose potential risk to users. This product has proven to deliver all-around defense against web based infections, contagious links, identity theft attempts, network intrusion, 0-day malware attacks, email threats – hence providing a safe background for both work and entertainment. The integrated parental controls (Norton Online Family feature) will keep an eye on kids’ activities to prevent them from going to the wrong places and clicking on the wrong things online. Furthermore, the bootable recovery tool enables creating a CD, DVD or USB that will help cope with emergencies in case of severe system damage impaired by malware. Now with the five layers of smart protection, the two-way firewall embedded, and full Windows 8 compatibility, Norton Internet Security leaves no room for shortage of defense.
At first sight, this application appears to be neat-looking, effective, and feature-rich. To get down-to-earth and specific facts about the software, we have thoroughly tested and evaluated it in terms of standalone criteria. Let’s start with system specifications and usability scores.
With more than a nod towards the tiled Modern interface of Windows 8, the latest NIS control screen is very square-cut and supports touchscreens – the software also supports newer multi-core processors. The four main tiles on the home screen provide details or run through to scanning, updates, advanced options and system status.
There’s also a column of icons down the right-hand side for quick access to your Symantec account, mobile security for android devices, parental controls, Safe Web checks and backup facilities. Some of these, like online backup, are for signup rather than features included in the package. Along the bottom of the screen is your subscription status and along the top is a menu of settings and other controls.
One of these is the Performance panel, which flips the home screen round to show the results of recent scans and current system use. Others include feedback and account details; there’s quite a bit here that seems of more use to Symantec than its customers.
One interesting feature of the anti-virus scanner is Norton’s Pulse updates. These happen every five to 10 minutes, sending the latest details on new threats so that, theoretically, NIS will remain more up-to-date than rival products.
We didn't notice any particular slowdown while running the software and Symantec says that Pulse updates are much smaller than a typical hourly or daily one. You do need a clean, fast broadband link to take full advantage of this, though. Full, conventional updates are also run according to the schedule you set.
NIS offers browser protection, an increasingly important aspect of Internet security, as it should ward off scams by preventing you reaching dodgy sites. This year it has built-in extra protection for social networking and can check, for example, before you follow links from Facebook.
It offers to store bank passwords and other such details securely in its Web Safe, but there are no signs of particular banking security like the separate secure browser Kaspersky pops up, or the extra protection that kicks in with F-Secure.
Usability Test Results
Scanning 30GB of assorted data took 11 minutes 23 seconds and targeted 105,304 files, giving a scan rate of 154 files per second. This is very good, beaten by only a couple of other products we've tested. Repeating the scan took 10mins 40secs for 123 files less, implying that the program doesn't fingerprint the files it has scanned to reduce times on subsequent examinations.
Copying 2GB of files while the program was performing a full system scan took only four per cent longer than when it wasn't, indicating that there’s not much resource hit when it's running.
In the most recent tests carried out by the German test site AV-Test, NIS came second equal out of 25, with a score of 16.0/18.0. This improves on the score for previous year's NIS by a full point.
AV-Test breaks down its testing into three components: Protection, Repair and Usability. The Protection score was 5.5/6.0 and this section is further subdivided by looking at zero-day, new and established malware. The product scored 100 per cent recognition in the second two of these and dropped only two per cent when looking at zero-day threats.
Repair looks at the detection of rootkits and stealth software, its removal and the rectification of changes to critical systems. NIS again scored 5.5/6.0 and again scored a full 100 per cent in two of the three subcategories. It was well above average, at 81 per cent, in system rectification, too.
The Usability score looks at both the resource impact of the software and on any problems with false positives. The software gave no false indications at any point during the test cycle, though the average slowdown of the test computer was slightly higher than average.
Although we tend to start this section with product installation and setup process description, we dare pretty much skip this one here – for a reason: Norton Internet Security installs flawlessly and fast. The free evaluation copy is available for a 30-day period. Speaking about commercial aspect, there is currently a substantial discount for 1-year subscription (up to 3 PCs): the cost went from $79.99 down to $49.99.
Norton Internet Security is a pleasure to use. We couldn’t help remarking the innovative GUI design ideas that were put into practice here. The dark color scheme combined with green and yellow elements invokes some sort of subconsciously perceived sense of confidence and the app’s serene aggression towards malicious stuff out there. The fresh look of this year's version interface is somewhat different from what the previous build was like: now it integrates large Windows 8 style graphical elements and is optimized for use on touch screens. Some of the product’s essentials, such as Online Family, Safe Web, Mobile, Performance, Settings etc. are smoothly lined up for quick access in the upper and right-hand part of the GUI, and the clearly highlighted current system status is in sight on the main pane for the user to be fully informed at all times. Whereas the interface does seem a little complex from the start, it turns out handy after a while of exploring its contents.
About four extra seconds’ burden on system boot-up and shutdown time is pretty much the biggest performance impact we noticed. When operating on our lab machine and processing data within its competence, Norton Internet Security did not call forth notable slowdown issues – as a matter of fact, it performed better than the industry average in terms of this criterion. The CPU usage does actually go up during scan tasks, which is natural – that hardly gives grounds for discomfort though. In regards to scanning speed, the utility processes a 10GB bulk of data in 3-4 minutes. Overall, influence on system resources is definitely not on this program’s weak points list.
False positives which were an issue with 2011 and 2012 versions of this software are now pretty much gone. The Germany-based AV-TEST’s scores testify to a substantial progress in terms of handling false detections of legit software as malware: the latest tests returned ’0′ value for this criterion, which is a perfect result as the industry average is 6. So, this has been obviously worked on, which is nice to know.
Feature set is all about functionality extrapolated from a concept to specific actions and capabilities. Before we carry on here, it’s fair to mention that Norton Internet Security has got a large number of smart features enabling rigid proactive protection and convenience of use. Here is the list and explanations on the crucial ones:
It appears all the major Internet security areas (and even more) are foreseen in this product, which is commendable. With the above features in its arsenal, the software does a lot to keep you safe online and make it easy to stay protected.
With Norton Internet Security running on your PC, proper malware detection and protection from online threats are the things you can be confident about. According to the latest stats by AV-TEST, the product scored the stunning 100 points in protection against 0-day malware attacks (including web and email threats), detection of relatively new malware, as well as interception of prevalent infections.
The software is not quite so perfect at repair though, scoring 95% at detection and removal of widespread threats, including rootkits and other stealth malware (industry average 95%); 88% at removal of further malicious components and system recovery from virus-originated modifications (industry average 71%). So, not impeccable – but good enough to trust.
Overall, the protection you get is versatile, so you are guarded from different angles. The product won’t have a problem detecting and taking care of viruses, phishing frauds, trojans, keyloggers, spyware, spam, hacker attacks, adware, unsafe downloads, bad files, rogue software and potentially harmful websites. Now, that’s obviously quite an extensive list of dangers to get swept away by Norton Internet Security.
Help & Support
Having become Symantec’s customer, you get diversified support options at your service. Whether it’s a product usage question, license related inquiry or security issue that you may have, there are a number of opportunities to get some answers and resolve your problem. The self-help instruments include the comprehensive product manual and FAQs provided on the vendor’s website (Support section). Additionally, Norton forum users can consult you all the way up to full fix. Free live expert help is available via phone, live chat and email. Please note that support channels may vary depending on your region, so be sure to check this information at us.norton.com/support.
Another alternative is the NortonLive Service which is an option to get immediate help, encompassing Deluxe, Premier and Ultimate support packages. Do keep in mind this one is a subscription-based model, though might well be worth it if you encounter an urgent issue.
The reviewed product is not perfect altogether, having both virtues and drawbacks – just like pretty much any application out there. And still, it actually does a heck of a job protecting users against privacy breaches and malware threats distributed over the Internet, and contains probably the most complete feature set we’ve seen across the board. We consider the somewhat fluctuating repair scores and false positives issue to be incommensurably less impacting than the benefits you get from using this tool. Overall, Norton Internet Security is a smart-looking, effective and trustworthy suite delivering decent cyber protection.
Norton Internet Security really hasn't sat on its laurels since last year's version and as well as the revised, simpler interface, it has improved in a number of areas such as social network security. Symantec continues to offer excellent protection against viral attack and, more importantly these days, against spyware and identity theft too. It did very well on its AV-Test evaluation and was only half a point off the group leader. For the same money, after the current discount period has ended, you can buy IS suites with more features for the same outlay, but the strength in NIS lies in its core protection, which is difficult to beat.