Symantec Norton Internet Security 2009

Not only does Norton Internet Security 2009 -- Symantec's latest internet security suite -- install in about a minute but its CPU and memory usage are down.

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Symantec Norton Internet Security 2009
  • Symantec Norton Internet Security 2009
  • Symantec Norton Internet Security 2009
  • Symantec Norton Internet Security 2009

Pros

  • Scan speeds and boot times are significantly reduced

Cons

  • Good detection rate but not as good as Avira and Avast!

Bottom Line

Norton Internet Security 2009 represents a dramatic improvement over its predecessor. Security has been improved but the most noticeable gain has to be responsiveness: less intrusive than Norton 360, sometimes it's hard to tell if NIS 2009 is running. The protection it offers is hard to beat though its spam controls could be better. Recommended.

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For some time now, Norton security products have been saddled, not unfairly, with the reputation of being hardware resource hogs, slowing down every PC they're installed on. The situation was exacerbated further by the arrival of Vista. But no more. The release of Norton Internet Security 2009 consigns that reputation to the Windows Recycle Bin.

Some performance improvements started to appear in the 2008 range but it's taken another year for the main developments to fully materialise. Not only does the new NIS 2009 install in about a minute but its CPU and memory usage are down.

Both scan speeds and boot times are significantly reduced. Even updates are shorter (but much more frequent, as often as every five minutes). And to drive the point home, the main interface displays a pair of CPU meters, one for the system as a whole and one just for Norton Internet Security 2009.

Norton Internet Security 2009 sports a glossier user interface (UI), with users having to contend with three categories — Computer, Internet and Identity. Tech support is now free and has been beefed up. You also get the new Home Network view, which gives users a network device map from which those devices can also be managed, highlighting security ‘danger zones'.

Also new in NIS 2009 is Identity Safe, to store personal information that is typically entered in buying, banking and online gaming.

Norton Internet Security 2009 reflects a wholesale shift in the way security is handled, shifting from a blacklist-based detection system, to one based on a whitelist, here dubbed Norton Insight. This means it can ignore whole swathes of files, which cuts scan times at a stroke. Scans are carried out in the background during idle time and scheduled scans become almost redundant.

Norton Insight judges the files as safe because it uses data collected from millions of ‘Norton Community' members, in much the same manner as Panda Internet Security 2009 and IHateSpam. Based on this data, Insight lets Norton Internet Security 2009 avoid scanning files that are found on most computers and statistically determined to be trusted.

In terms of detecting malware, according to a recent AV-Test.org group test, NIS 2009 is a top-tier security product, garnering scores of 98.7 per cent for malware and 95.4 per cent for spyware. Nevertheless, it's still pipped at the post by the likes of Avira and Avast! which managed even higher scores. Anti-spam is integrated now and works with Outlook and Outlook Express (but not Windows Mail). We let it loose on one of our email accounts that accumulates virtually nothing but spam. Out of about 5000 emails, with no prior training, it correctly determined that 89 per cent were junk. This is not a bad score but it still left more than 500 junk emails in the inbox and it was slow; other anti-spam tools offer superior performance.

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