Norton’s latest offering goes beyond the traditional signature-based method of protection where incoming files and URLs are measured against a list of ‘known’ threats; Norton Internet Security (NIS) 2011 treats every new file or URL with suspicion by way of its real-time, reputation-based protection. Utilising its extensive global customer base (with some 53 million users part of the Norton Community Watch programme), Norton can actively check whether the files and links you attempt to access have been safely accessed recently. With new malware numbering in the hundreds of thousands daily, it’s a more effective approach than the historical signature ‘blacklists’, which can be outdated in the space of hours. It’s that simple, and if independent security testing from the likes of AV Comparatives (av-comparatives.org) and others is anything to go by, it’s also super effective: the anti-virus component of Norton Internet Security received AV Comparatives’ ADVANCED+ performance award, and it was the only suite to achieve a 100% protection score in testing by Dennis Labs (dennistechnologylabs.com).
Another core focus for the team at Symantec for Norton 2011 is the program’s usability and resource strain. Norton 2011 is extremely lean, installs quickly and easily (it even uninstalls potentially conflicting software for you), and it not only manages to run with little strain placed on your PC, but also manages to make some processes run faster! And if a particular program is putting considerable strain on your PC, Norton will alert you to this.
The Norton Bootable Recovery Tool now allows the user to create USB bootable drives, which is especially useful if you own a netbook (with no DVD drive).
There’s a fairly robust Online Family toolset that allows you to check sites visited, alerts triggered and search terms used by the various profiles on your PC — it’s a simple and effective way to monitor your family’s internet usage.
Norton Safe Web is a way of testing a URL (a suspicious looking TinyURL that pops up in your Twitter feed, for instance) by simply entering it into the Norton console. Not only will Norton comprehensively scan the site for threats, but the user community may post reviews and ratings.
PROS: A leaner and lighter version of Norton’s security suite that’s already wowing the independent testing labs with its performance. Robust and effective parental controls. Online backup. New social-networking safety features.
CONS: None encountered in my testing.
VERDICT: Norton Internet Security 2011 is an extremely comprehensive and effective security suite that remains completely intuitive for novice users while also allowing more control for advanced users.