Originally code-named ‘Genesis’ to denote that Symantec was working on a new Internet Security program from the ground up, Norton 360 is Symantec’s new tool to protect against viruses, spyware, Trojan horses, hackers, malware and other net nasties, and represents a major upgrade in security software design, ease of use and performance when running on your computer.
Incorporating anti-virus, anti-spyware, firewall, intrusion protection, anti-phishing, anti-rootkit, dramatically improved protection against new threats not yet fully identified called SONAR, automatic backup and tune-ups and built-in support make this the most integrated Norton product yet, and thanks to the redesign runs faster than previous versions and uses less system resources, even throttling itself back if it senses it’s needed.
In a world where general computer users want something that “just works” and keeps them protected no matter what threats are faced, Norton 360 is certainly the most “automatic” product Symantec have ever created, keeping itself hidden in the background for most of the time to prevent unwanted interruptions to the user.
The SONAR feature is an acronym for “The Symantec Online Network for Advanced Response”. It provides “behavior-based malware detection that identifies new threats in real-time based on application behavior”. When it comes to rootkits, which were once undetectable by traditional anti-virus technology, Norton 360 removes kernel mode rootkits by using heuristics technology.
A vulnerability assessment is also built into 360, letting users know if Windows or other software 360 identifies are unpatched against the latest threats, while a network detection feature lets you set different security levels when connecting to different networks, with an outside network able to have stricter security settings than your home network, for example.
The backup feature lets you have 2Gb of online storage to keep your files safe. This feature also lets you back up to and restore from internal or external hard drives, mapped network drives, USB Flash memory drives, CDs and DVDs, and restore files from your online backup as well. The online storage space can be extended to 5Gb, 10Gb or 25Gb per year at prices of US $24.99, $49.99 or $69.99 respectively, if desired – a handy feature to have, and one that’s not replicated in Microsoft’s OneCare software.
The new interface is a breath of fresh air, especially for less advanced users who just want to know at a glance what the status of their system is, and have easy access to manual controls if desired. A menu provides access to features more advanced users may want to tweak.
Norton 360 is an excellent new security suite from Symantec that takes ‘automatic protection’ to a new level of security and convenience that will only get better. This is because Symantec will now offer new features through the LiveUpdate software that updates Norton 360 as soon as they become available, rather than forcing you to wait for the next version.
Inbuilt help is much more robust, too. While you can make a phone call for paid support, Norton 360 offers free, live ‘chat’ support, and even lets you authorize for a Symantec tech support person to temporarily take control of your computer to fix a 360 issue for you.
There is an optional add-on pack also available that offers features such as anti-spam and parental controls, although now that operating systems like Vista have this feature, with many email programs also offering anti-spam technologies, these features were obviously less important to bundle in the application as standard.
Norton 360 costs US $79.99 and can be installed on up to three PCs, with the Australian price being AUD $129.99. This is more expensive than Microsoft’s OneCare 1.5 at US $49.99 (or AUD $99.95), but at only $20 more (in both currencies) Norton’s 360 is definitely the better deal for the money, especially with the free online storage and live support built-in.
There are features missing such as more explicit wireless protection to let you know when someone is trying to hack into your wireless network, something offered by McAfee’s Total Protection Internet security suite, but these are features that Symantec could easily add-in to Norton 360 through new feature updates if they so desire. Also missing is support for the Firefox and Opera browsers, as Norton 360 supports IE6 and IE7, although Firefox support is promised soon.
While advanced users may prefer to construct their own security software solutions, Norton 360 delivers on Symantec’s promise of a new type of security program that runs faster, provides better protection and offers the ease of use and features that consumers most want, including the ability of being installed on up to 3 computers, and should ensure that Symantec stays on top of the Internet security software charts, while spurring Microsoft, McAfee and other competitors to do even better!