Norton 360 All-in-One Security Software Version 3.0 – An In-Depth Analysis with comparison
The Norton 360 is developed by Symantec and has been promoted as an all-in-one security suite. And undoubtedly, the package is an all in one including phishing protection,firewall and also has the ability to identify and eliminate malware. What makes this special from the Norton Internet Security is the addition of PC maintenance along with file backup capabilities. Some of the additional functionalities like parental controls and e-mail spam filtering. The major rivals of the suite are, Microsoft’s Windows Live OneCare and McAfee Total Protection Suite.
History of Norton 360 All-in-One Security:
The Norton 360 All-in-One Security was initially called as Project Genesis and then renamed to Norton 360 in the mid 2006. Version 1.0 of this security software was released on 26th Feb 2007. Being the first product of Symantec that used SONAR to detect zero-day viruses, this suite monitored the applications for malicious behaviour, taking the action that is required and it also had other functionalities like backup and restore, PC maintenance, disk fragmentation and phishing protection. Though this version enjoyed success in the areas of low resource usage and phishing, the lack of manual control for the advanced users ended up as one of the major disadvantages of the product. There were a few bugs too. Hence, the second version was released on 3rd March, 2008. This version seemed to eradicate most of the problems that were found in the previous version. This version had advanced backup features, a registry cleaner, more manual accesses, phishing protection for Firefox and a Network Map, while the system requirements is same as that of the version 1.0. This new version too had its own set of black spots. The spam filter is quite weak, misidentifying over 25% of valid email as spam and the suite had a few problems when installed in legacy machines.
The version 3.0:
Finally, the Version 3.0 was released on 4th March, 2009. This version makes use of the same codebase as Norton Internet Security 2009. And let us have a detailed look at this new version in the following review. This new security suite has the basic aim of minimizing its impact on system performance. This version has the same slimming treatment as the previous version and additionally, it has got a number of enhancements and a set of new features. By using the same code of Norton Internet Security 2009, it offers all the benefits of the suite along of the PC tune-up module along with a full scale backup utility. All is in the package unobtrusive, that you will almost forget that it is there.
No visual makeover:
Unlike the Norton 2009 that went through a total visual makeover to be compatible with its rewrite, the Norton 360 hasn’t really changed much when it comes to appearance. Though its main screen has been slightly streamlined, it still retains the 4 chunky panels that define its key protection areas, which include PC Tuneup, PC Security, Backup and Identity Protection. If you possess a big green coloured protective panel, then it means that everything has been configured and is working properly. In case anything is wrong with your system, then you will find a red coloured “At Risk” panel along with the description of the problem. You will be able to find links there and so, you can either choose to fix them individually or even just click over the large “Fix Now” button in order to bring all the components back into line.
The Norton 360 All-in-One Security Version 3.0 is compatible with the 32-bit editions of Windows XP, both 32 bit and 64 bit editions of the Windows Vista and recently, the support for Windows 7 has also been added to the suite.
The One Minute Install:
Similar to its internet security sibling, the Norton 360 too has an installation system that is blazingly fast. So fast, that the manufacture has named it as, “One Minute Install” and in fact, that is very close to the true fact. The all in one security system will be up and running as soon as you click over the Agree and Install button that indicates you to accept the license terms. The very first screen that appears, says to you that “Now installing… less than a minute remaining”. We being quite skeptical timed the whole process and found that the process of installation took just over a minute. We were quite impressed though, as the time was extremely close to what Symantec had quoted. The next screen that appears reports that the software is preparing to launch and that it has less than ten seconds remaining, which also turned out to be true.
How long do the others take:
Hence, the entire set of processes like installation, activation and the Initial Live Update takes less than four minutes. This rate is extremely good because, some of the other security software like, the ZoneAlarm Extreme Security takes about 20 minutes and more than half an hour to have an initial update done, the McAfee Total Protection Suite also takes a bit over 20 minutes and the TrustPort PC Security takes over 30 minutes to just download the updates during installation. Wondering how Symantec alone made it possible? As we had mentioned earlier, as a part of the makeover for the product, they had coded a custom installer instead of relying over the Windows installer or a Third party utility. This allowed the developers to take full control over the process and hence miniature the size of the installation package, along with a range of other advantages along with improvement in speed. We were very surprised to see that, even when one of the systems was switched off in the midst of the running installer, the process picked up without missing a beat once it is rebooted.
Even if some of the malware tried to interrupt the process, the security system handled the whole process very smoothly by launching a pre-install scan. Having crossed all the hurdles with flying colours, the product is fully installed. When the machine crashes during installation, out of some serious errors like blue-screen-of-death, once the system is rebooted, the installer runs an analysis of the error logs and supplies with a link to get connected with the technical support and the link in turn offers you with the error code and a button to assist you with an online chat support. Though the proactive help was very impressive, we were not that impressed with the chat based support system. If you ever encounter a problem like this, just make use of the Norton Recovery Tool which is a bootable CD with a built-in malware scanner. If you possess the boxed product, you can boot it simply from the supplied CD, else, you can just download it using another system, burn it to a CD and then, boot from that.
Help from forums:
Just about the same time of the release of this security system, Symantec had launched the Norton user forum that provides with an arena for the customers of Symantec interact with each other and representatives of the company. This is something very handy.
Back-up and Tune-up:
You cannot expect the installation package to be as petite as that of Norton IS 2009, as this one has that product’s entire feature along with a few Back-up and Tune-up routines. Yet, being just over 70MB, the suite is not huge. Though the Norton 2009 comes under 60MB, you must compare the product under test with the TrustPort suite that tips to about 200MB. As Symantec promised a jiffy installation process and proved it, we are here to test yet another claim by the manufacturer that it has very less impact over the performance of the system.
Effects on system performance:
In order to keep your system protected, the Norton 360 All-in one security software has to be loaded early in the boot process, which always consumes some extra time. When about hundred boots are done over a system and measuring the interval between the start of the process and the time the system is ready to be used, the system averages almost sixty seconds. The whole process takes about 10 seconds, with the CPU usage under five percentile. With the Norton 360 installed, the average goes up by about thirteen seconds which is very modest increase managed by any suite in the current market. This suite beats the Kaspersky Internet Security 2009 by a couple of seconds and that of Norton 2009 by few more. Once installed, some of the rival internet suites like double the time required for booting and some of them like CA Internet Security Suite Plus 2009 and TrustPort almost tripled the time that is needed for initial booting. So far, the Norton 360 has been the perfect lightweight on the system.
Effect on opening sites:
The Norton 360 Version 3.0 security suite has to monitor your web browsing in order to warn you of a site that is hosting a malware or phishing, that is, one that is attempting to steal your personal information. And this is a time consuming process. On having a measurement this time without the suite of some of the high content websites, we went on the measure the time taken with the suite on. This took about a third longer for the sites to open, which is much better rate than its rivals that doubles and almost triples the time taken. We noticed that the Norton 2009 had a better rate of just thirteen percent increase, but you have to keep in mind that its job is also quite less.
Effect on the move and copy operations:
The Norton 360 Internet security and Firewall can also have an impact over the move and copy operations as they have the job of examining the files on access. Another operation that gets affected badly is that of dragging, if the utility tends to scan the same file multiple number of times and Symantec assures that its product would never act in that manner. When time required for moving and copying large files is measured, with and without the suite, the Norton 360 anti-virus/anti-spyware/firewall left us dumb struck again by adding a barely measurable two percent. The ZoneAlarm Internet Security 2009 is the worst performer in this part by adding over fifty percent to the time and the company’s Extreme Security exhibited a better performance by toning down this time to under 12 percent, a little under the average of fifteen percentage. For a collection of zip and unzip operations, the Panda Global protection 2009 has the least effect of just 8 percentage, followed by TrustPort with 18 percent and the Norton 360 followed to be third with 21%. An average suite adds fifty percent, while the BitDefender Total Security 2009 and ZoneAlarm 2009 more than doubled the time.
Other affected areas:
Yet another challenge that big security software has to face is that, it has to check all the executable files, DLLs and a few other elements that have been copied to the system. When we tested the impact of our all-in-one Security Suite, on several large automated installed and uninstalled operations, the results matches the test average of 35%. This rate is a little higher than the Norton 2009 and the best performer in this area is Panda that added just six percentage, and again, ZoneAlarm failed badly by nearly doubling the time.
The custom installation of Norton 360:
The suite is loaded with an effective high-speed custom installer that gets to work right away in protecting your PC while few other suites are still just grinding over the “Copying files” notification. The malware scanner is a quickie too. One worry that we have is that, the spam filter slows down the email downloading by almost four times, but unless you get thousands of mails every day, you will hardly notice. In a couple of categories, it has the least impact and in the others, it never exceeded the average impact over the competing suites. Said that, the suite is a lightning champ in the performance.
High scorer of the testing labs:
The antivirus engine has managed to get high scores from almost all the independent testing labs. It has been checked for virus detection, cleaning and Torjan detection and passed though the Windows-Based VB100% tests. The Austrian AV-Comparatives test lab gave the suite the ADVANCED +, which is the highest rating. The suite was rated to be very good in the categories of malware detection, lesser false positives, quick scanning and quick response to a new malware too by the Magdeburg based AV test. The suit also was rated good for detection of adware, spyware and the proactive detection of new and unknown threats. Having scored either “Good” or “Very good”, shows the excellence in performance of the Norton 360 All-in-One Security Software Version 3.0 as most of the other software would get at least one “Satisfactory” in any of the categories.
Even setting up the Norton 360 suite for malware testing can be tedious as the suite has to be installed a number of times. But with the speedy installation of the system, the whole process becomes much more of a pleasant task. As in the case of its IS sibling, the initial scanning can be relatively slow. The process takes fifty minutes, which is higher than the average of 30 seconds of the other suites. Once the Norton Insight, which is feature that examines all the programs in the system and compares it with the database of good known programs, is installed, the speed increases radically. By doing so, the number of files to be scanned is cut down by ninety percent and hence, the scan time is reduced to a mere five minutes. This system is much safer than the Kasperkey’s method of not scanning the files that have not changed since the last pass. As in that case, there is a possibility that a malware would sneak through after having got a clean health report as there is no signature available.
Great prevention mechanism:
The Norton 360 intervenes even before you can run a scan either by deleting the threats silently or just giving you a warning to save all the documents so that the entrenched malware can be removed silently. In the end of a scan routine, the software does not give you a scary list of malware. It just pleads attention whenever it had to close open some documents and programs. Some of the locked malware related filed can be deleted only after a reboot is done. If the problem is serious like that of executable files, then Norton would ask you to do it right away, but if the malware is just some harmless data files, it simply schedules the deletion for the next reboot. Absolutely no nonsense anywhere. The Symantec Norton 360 2009 managed to remove most of the malware without even the slightest of traces. The only suite that beat Norton’s performance was SpyWare Doctor with AntiVirus 6 and the software that came in par with the Symantec model is Webroot AntiVirus with AntiSpyware 6.0.
No traces left:
The Norton 360 All-in-One Security Software2009 blocks the installation of a malware in a silent way. If the threat is very minor, the attempted installation leaves no trace in your PC and gets wiped out without making any big noise (announcements), but for a tiny self-closing popup. If you like to know what your suite is doing for you, you can always check the history and you might as well get a monthly report that details everything it has done for you. The software gets full score in this area and so do a number of other suites like a-Squared Anti-Malware 4.0, Ad-Aware Pro Anniversary Edition, ThreatFire 3.5, McAfee and a few more.
Firewall protection in Norton 360 Version 3.0:
As we had mentioned earlier, the Norton 360 offers the same dynamic firewall protection akin to the Norton Internet Security 2009. So, it comes as no big surprise to see the firewall get through all of the port scan tests successfully. And the bad news for the hackers is that, they can consider that a system that is protected by the Norton 360 does not exist. The software handles everything automatically without the need of any user interface. It deletes the known bad programs and allows access for known good programs and monitors the behaviour of any unknown programs without bothering you for the input. This kind of an approach is quite good and a well written security program like this one more capable of identifying the safe programs than most users are.
A system for everybody:
When about a dozen of block leak tests are launched, the duo of Auto-protect and behaviour based SONAR blocks two thirds of them. Since the Norton 360 has a spectrum of users from novice ones to experiences security experts, Symantec has added an entirely new level of advanced firewall protection. Turing this setting on, it requires you to turn off the automatic program control. This means the software will not automatically configure access for the known good programs. Just before doing this, you will be getting a big warning that say that you will be receiving firewall queries and if you answer them incorrectly, it will disable even the valid programs. This is usually only for any trouble shooting process and not for any day to day proceedings.
With the advanced settings on:
When the advanced setting is turned on and the leak tests are tries, the auto-protect stops some of them and few other trigger pop up queries. Each of the pop-ups would give you two choices, allow the behaviour always or block it once. A higher level of protection that would prevent the software from terminating the service in first place in under development in the labs of Symantec, while most of the rival security systems like that of McAfee, ZoneAlarm, Webroot IS Essentials and Trend have already prevented such critical services termination. But this is certainly not a serious issue.
Protection from harmful sites:
Most of you must be aware of the fact that by just visiting hacked websites or those which host deliberate malicious code can be very damaging to your system. Such sites generally feed on the vulnerabilities of the browser, in the OS or in just any other application. The Norton 360 protects against these exploits by thorough examination than any other protection suite. And as in the case of many other components of the suite the firewall of this one too does not make a big fuss about it. All that you will be able to see is a small vanishing pop-up box and when you click over it, you can get the details about where the threat came from and even what kind of attack it was.
Identity safe is also a kind of protection that you will find in both the Norton suites. This security helps you to manage your online identity and passwords. This feature stores one or more identity cards that hold personal information like address, phone number, birth date and credit card number. Hence, when you register with a shopping site or, just fill up a web form, the Identity Safe will automatically insert the information for you into most of the data entry fields that it can and also tints them in green to let you understand what did it. This feature also captures and replays the user name, password credentials that are used to log into the secure sites. So with you logging in, you are offered to save credentials and upon revisiting a site where Identity Safe has the credentials stored, it fills them in automatically. Once you have stored credentials for a site, choosing that destination from the menu in the toolbar will cause the feature to navigate to the site and log in automatically.
Duplicating an existing card:
Additionally, a new trick that has been included in this latest version of the software is that, you will be able to create an identity card starting with a duplicate of an existing card. This feature can be handy for creating separate personal and business cards. The identity safe feature also includes an ability to import the credentials that is saved by IE’s AutoComplete feature and even the toolbar along with the entire user interface, will be streamlined for ease of use. For instance, you will be able to change the username for a saved login. If you think that you need some more education about this feature, then you will find help at a web based tutorial.
Password management system:
The password management system of this feature has not changed much. It is disappointing to know that it still has a lot of issues with logging in to the web pages with multi-page logins. Another suite having the same issue is the RoboForm Pro 6 while the Eikon To Go Digital Privacy Manager and the DigitalPersona Personal 4.0 handles each of the pages separately and one security software that is very successful on this account is the 1-Click SignUpShield Suite 5 that deals with the multi-page logins by very carefully recording every step of the login process. The ID Vault makes use of a database that spells out the log-in procedure for thousands of financial sites.
Norton Safe Web:
You will find the Norton Safe Web in the Norton Toolbar, which is a feature that aids the users to avoid the dangerous websites. For instance, you enter a site that is considered dodgy, up pops a red warning and iffy sites are tagged with a yellow warning. And in any case you will be able to get the details like why a site ended up with such ratings by just clicking over the pop up box and you also get to read the reviews of other users. This Safe Web also marks the result pages of most of the popular search engines with the red, yellow and green marks respectively, in order to avoid you from selecting them in the first place. This feature works just similar to McAfee’s Site Advisor and Trend’s TrendProtect. While these two have different areas of focuses like malicious downloads, tests for spam, rating of the sites links, site’s stability and reputation, the Norton 360 SafeWeb has its main focus on blocking the sites hosting malicious codes or malwares. Symantec makes use of Intelligent Aging algorithm in order to keep the ratings up to date and also to decide if the site needs any rescanning. This algorithm takes into consideration factors like the popularity of the site and its frequency of changes.
Special protection for the shopping sites:
You will also find the anti-phishing protection that is found in Norton security 2009. You will find that both the suites do not give you the same result for the same URL because the phishing sites change rapidly and hence they will be having different definitions. Symantec has partnered with Ask in order to provide a safe box in the Norton Toolbox. Frankly, we were not that impressed with this feature as it does not filter the sponsored sites with higher rates of malicious links as against the ones that are not sponsored. Fortunately, the safe search box of Norton 360 can be turned off easily.
The back-up system:
Coming to the backup system of Norton 360, it is both flexible and extremely easy to use. The Symantec Norton 360 All in one Security software makes use of separate tabs in order to configure the essential elements of the backup set that includes what to back up, where to store it and also when to perform the backup job. You get to enjoy 2GB of online storage with the standard Norton 360 Subscription. The suite defines eight categories of important files that need to be safeguarded that include Pictures, Music, Financial Files, Video, Office Documents, Email, Contacts and Internet Favourites. Usually the suite seeks for the matching files in the My Documents folder, but you will also be able to expand the search to an entire set of hard drive. You will also be allowed to choose the file types that get backed up. And for each backup that you choose, you get to select the backup destination too. It is not an exaggeration if we mention that Norton 360 has got the most flexible backup destination options than any other suite that offer an equivalent feature.
The PC Tune-up feature is somewhat similar to the one that we had seen in the previous version of the suite. It makes use of the idle time to defragment the hard drives and clear out old/useless temporary files of your PC. Note that the history and registry clean up features work only when they are launched manually and not unless they are configured for automatic operation. The registry cleaner feature has a lot of upgrades to be done. It does not give you a chance to actually preview its proposed changes like the other security suites do and the worst part is that, it does not allow you to undo its work in case a problem comes up. So what is the change made? It is its all new Startup Manager. This feature gives you a list of each program launched along with the publisher’s name during start-up and also allows you to reversibly prevent each program from launching during the start up.
A silent worker:
Most of the time Norton 360 does all the work in the background. It works when the system is left idle for more than ten minutes and disengages itself once activated. You will be able to have an eye on the CPU usage graph and what was the last background task. But if you are constantly busy, you might as well do a manual scan. A comprehensive scan would run a live update, clean the temporary files and history of IE, scan for malware, clean temporary files of windows, defrag the hard drives, backup the changed files and run the registry cleanup. The Norton 360 works very quietly in the background giving you a monthly report on what it had done for you. This diagnostic tool is very helpful for solving your PC issues.
Talking about the additional features, there is a network map remotely monitoring other Norton installations. In case there is something wrong, you will find the remote system’s icon in the network map will turn red. The feature also verifies that any wireless networks are secure and warn if you are connected to a non secure network. While in the previous editions, features like Parental control, anti-spam and privacy controls are optional, the anti-spam has been added to the main feature now. The parental control is not unchanged in this edition. You will be able to match each of the windows account with adult, teen or child group. The privacy controls still hang on though the other features of the suite offer better protection.
After all this bragging on how Norton 360 Version 3.0 is better on most areas than the other all in one security software, We at www.antivirusreviews.org.uk strongly recommend this security suite.
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Symantec Norton 360 Version 3.0 2009 – Technical Specification Details
|Software name||Norton 360|
|Suite type||All in one security suite|
|License type||Complete package|
|License quantity||One user|
|System requirements||32-bit editions of Windows XP,
both 32 bit and 64 bit editions of the Windows Vista,
300MHz or faster processor, 256 MB of RAM,
300 MB of available hard disk space,
Microsoft Internet Explorer® 6.0 or higher or
Firefox® 2.0 or higher, Online backup feature
requires high-speed Internet connection
and Email scanning supported for
POP3-compatible email clients
|Other Key features||Web, File, Email protection
Network Attack Blocker