Symantec Norton 360 Review

Symantec Norton 360 (2.0) is a product that aims to strengthen Symantec's position as a leader in the field of online security. Up till now the market for online protection has been fragmented at best with vendors simply sticking together products into a bundle at best. Norton 360 changes this all of this. It is fully functional out of the box and requires little of no tinkering to get the maximum protection from it. It protects the user from A to Z.

A typical web-connected user can fall victim to viruses, worms and Trojans both in the traditional and the more complex and advanced rootkit incarnation. Such malware can arrive as an email attachment, secretly hidden within a program, or it may be downloaded by clicking a link on a web page. Norton 360's arsenal to cover this front consists of Symantec's tried and tested Antivirus solution.

Spyware is another area taken care of by Norton 360. In its simplest form, spyware is malicious software that peeks at what a legitimate user is doing on his computer and sends that information to a master without the user's consent or knowledge. For example, it is known that this is the way some spammers harvest email addresses. As you complete an email address in the send to box, that email address is transmitted to the person who controls the spyware.

In its more visible form, spyware will hijack a user's browser and would direct users to pre-programmed web sites rather than those the user wants to see. Some spyware variants use popups to show advertising content without the user's consent. Norton 360 detects and eliminates such threats using the same efficiency users have come to expect from the Antivirus module.

Norton 360 protects users against identity theft. In this type of crime, information about the victim are stolen and utilised to by the criminal to perform something while pretending to be the victim. The repercussions of such crimes are enormous. Norton 360 includes a feature that manages user names and passwords. Therefore the daunting problem associated with having to remember a different username and password for each site becomes a non issue since Norton 360 automates the process. This takes care of those situations in which the username and password for one site is repeatedly used across multiple sites. Without such software is becomes practically impossible to remember on username and password for each and every visited web site. To make life easier, Norton 360 automatically completes forms on trusted Web sites with stored data. One does not even have to fill in forms second time round.

One way to get people to hand over confidential information about themselves is to get them to fill in a form. This is known as phishing. An email claiming to be from a legitimate organization informs the recipient that because of a technical quirk, he must fill in a form on the company's site. When the link is clicked, the page that comes us is identical to the legitimate site the only difference being that the web address is slightly different although many-a-times barely noticeable. The form will request many of the details necessary to gain access to the account. Once the form has been filled in and submitted, the people running the phishing scam would have the details necessary to gain access to the web site of the original owner and perform any action granted to the person whose details were nicked. With Norton 360 this type of crime is protected against. When you attempt to log in to such a page, you will get warning that tell you that web address is that of a phishing site and that you should not proceed to it. As an added safeguard, Norton 360 automated form filling mechanisms will fail to work on the fake web site.

All the crimes mentioned above necessitate some action on the part of the user. For example, the user would have to download a file, click a link or run a program. Norton 360's firewall is a program that also guards against anyone trying to hack into a user's computer. Hackers usually look for weak spots in the computer's defenses through which they can gain access to your computer. Once inside they look for the goodies.

Norton 360 has not stopped at events that have a malicious origin. Something as simple as hard disk wear and tear can take away massive amounts of important data. So Norton 360 included an automated backup program that copies important data (including form passwords and a data) either to your local computer or to a remote storage site. A 2 GB offsite storage box is included with a subscription. With the latter option, if anything happens to the computer, the important data is safely stashed on a secure server thousands of miles away.

Norton knows its origins in PC optimization products and Norton 360 comes with PC performance tuneup software that ensures that the computer operates at its best. Any residual junk that may slow a computer and prevent it from operating at peak performance is adjusted in real time.

Also included in Norton 360 are monitoring solutions aimed at those who utilise wireless networks. This module will help with securing a router as well as to alert a user if any part of the wireless network is not secure. Using Norton 360 one can view all devices attached to the network thereby getting a clear idea of whose plugged in.

Norton 360 will update automatically to implement new mechanisms to counter act new threats. Norton 360 includes On-click support which allows users to access expert support from within the program as well as Auto-fix, a system that quickly detects and fixes known problems. Symantec allows you to take Norton 360 on a 15 day trail; enough time to same its protective functionality before you decide to buy. What more can you want?

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Author: Alan C. Bonnici
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Symantec Norton 360 Review


Reader Comments

Dermott Ryder (c) 2008

When I upgraded from Norton Internet Security [which failed to load on regular occasions] to Norton 360 on my Windows XP pro desktop and laptop systems I expected great things. I am now bitterly disappointed with its performance. Both of my system now runs so slowly that it stresses me out just waiting for something to happen. To say they run like a dogs would be complementary to the performance and defamatory of the dogs.

My desktop start up can take eight to ten minutes and take up 100% of resources. The lights do flash but the mouse and keyboard die. When the desktop comes up it crawls. My laptop comes up a little more quickly but runs just as slowly. I run disc checks, de-fragmentation, registry cleaner and regular scans etc as regular maintenance on both machines, all to no avail.

Norton support seems not to exist. Emails go unanswered or generate a response, several days later, which are in the main as much use as tits on a bull. Sometimes they offer a download 'fix' and when this doesn't work suggest an unacceptable adjustment to my system to facilitate Norton's quirks. There seems to be no solution to the Norton problem, or to Norton's arm's length arrogance.

Further, I have come to the conclusion that the so-called experts who claim that Norton 360 is fast, efficient and truly wonderful must be drinking their own bathwater or are total bullshit artists.

I share my Norton experiences with others whenever I can. So far I have discussed the 'Norton' problem with several acquaintances, all XP users. Their experience with Norton mirrors mine. Frustrated, disgruntled, angry and rip-off are words common to such conversations. I reject Norton’s marketing hyperbole. It simply isn’t accurate. Norton 360 tries to do too much. It is turgid and too resource hungry for a home or a small business system. It needs trimming down and speeding up. Until this occurs I will, for the sake of sanity and peace of mind, abandon this clumsily and verbosely written package. I will also advise others of my acquaintance to stay well clear of Norton 360. In fact, to give Norton as a whole a wide berth. Life is too short.

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