This article first appeared in HWM Singapore Aug 2011.
Now in its fifth version, Norton 360 is a security suite for your PC (Windows 7, Vista and XP) as well as your virtual being. It differs slightly from Norton Internet Security by including a PC tuning feature (frees up memory, cleans up registry and removes unnecessary files) and 2GB worth of automatic online backup storage for your files.
In addition to relying on traditional virus definitions, Norton 360 uses SONAR (Symantec Online Network for Advanced Response) for real-time protection. Advanced mode is enabled by default and will remove any risks it deems as high-certainty automatically. For a faster scan and system performance, you can turn on the Smart Definitions option, where only the most important virus definitions are used. We also like that before executing any downloaded file, Download Insight notifies you if the file is safe or not.
Norton Safe Web is another feature that protects you while you surf the Internet; the browser is configured to detect harmful websites. A Norton rating icon will appear on the Norton toolbar when you’re on a website; clicking it brings up a pop-up that tells you the site’s safety status. The site rating icons will also appear in search results. If you do a lot of online transactions, you could have Identity Safe store sensitive information like your login passwords and credit card numbers. It can automatically input them up into forms at trusted sites. To get parental controls, you must first download and install the Norton Safety Minder on every computer that the child use. You can use it to monitor your child’s online activity (from the Norton Online Family website) and define rules based on age.
For the most part, Norton 360 Version 5.0 is easy to use despite its sheer list of options. The critical ones like those listed above are turned on by default, so there isn’t much to tweak from the get-go. In our testing, it detected 90% of the malware and 100% of the virus samples we threw at it. In general, we also noticed minimal system impact, though during a full system scan, CPU usage went up as high as 50%.
In all, Norton 360 does what it claims and does them pretty well too. If you’re a PC user and spend a lot of time online, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy now.