Symantec Norton Internet Security 2005

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Symantec Norton Internet Security 2005

Bottom Line

This latest version of NIS sees it firmly stay amongst the leading pack in all-in-one security packages.

Would you buy this?

As broadband uptake increases, so does the number of activities we use the Internet for. Instant messengers (IM), chat rooms, peer-to-peer networking, e-mail and Web browsing all come with varying degrees of annoyances, and risks to security and privacy.

That's why all-in-one internet protection packages, like Symantec's Norton Internet Security (NIS) suite are so popular.

The 2005 edition of NIS includes new versions of Norton AntiVirus and Norton Personal Firewall (each $99.95 separately), Norton AntiSpam ($79.95 separately), Norton Privacy Control and Norton Parental Control.

Installation took about five minutes (including pre-scan) and components are well integrated, with similar redesigned, easy-to-use interfaces. The simplified LiveUpdate automatically downloads updates (virus/worm definitions) for 12 months (renewable). Upon update receipt, NIS 2005 "QuickScans" for and removes active infections. The new Outbreak Alert utility also runs in the background to inform you of online threats and how to protect against them, and to remind you if you've accidentally turned off protection.

AntiVirus 2005's enhanced protection against viruses, worms and Trojans can remove them automatically, even scanning IM and e-mail attachments - although we would have liked even more focus on adware and spyware. Another new feature - Internet Worm Protection - supplements dedicated e-mail and firewall security by scanning inbound ports and targeting worms like Blaster and Code Red. Although the pop-up questions and establishing of rules won't be for everyone, this feature is welcomed.

Personal Firewall and Personal Privacy Control 2005 now work together to manage a list of trusted sites you can create (like banking sites or eBay) that you send private information to without constantly alerting you - convenient and useful to fight "phishing" (hoax site) scams. Personal Firewall uses customisable predefined rules for maximum inbound and outbound protection and can block banner and pop-up ads. AntiSpam 2005 now supports Yahoo! Web-mail and has easier "Allowed List" updating. Also updated are ad-blocking and spam/inappropriate e-mail filtering (Outlook, Outlook Express and Eudora).

In a similar vein, Norton Parental Controls includes tools for parents to block access to newsgroups and Web sites not suitable for children. We tested NIS 2005 on a Windows XP installation with the final release of Service Pack 2 (SP2) installed, and had no compatibility problems. SP2's Windows Security Center was aware of the Norton products, but couldn't determine their status due to Symantec's tamper-protection technology. While SP2 includes an improved firewall, it's strictly only for incoming protection and doesn't monitor the activity of programs already on your hard disk.

In all, although SP2 improves Windows' security, third-party programs and integrated suites such as NIS 2005 look set to be in demand for quite some time yet.

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