The yearly updates to Norton Internet Security are generally fairly minor and incremental by nature. However, 2009 is a bit different as the boffins over at Symantec have opened the package up and given its innards some serious reconstructive surgery. We’re not just talking a fresh interface and lick of paint here, although the front end has been neatly reshaped. There’s also been a distinct nipping and tucking of the program’s system footprint, and a number of interesting additional features have been bolted on.
On the performance front, a meter ensconced on the main menu shows Norton’s CPU usage; and it’s impressively low. We never thought the program was the total resource hog that some have decried it as in the past, but it definitely isn’t now. It runs slickly and scan times are suitably speedy, helped along by a new technology dubbed Norton Insight. This uses an online database to identify and skip over safe files, saving plenty of time.
Even definition updates complete with seeming alacrity. Norton’s core anti-virus and anti-spyware definitions are tried and trusted, and the addition of pulse updates strengthens the strings of its security bow. These are fresh batches of anti-virus code that are delivered to your PC every ten minutes or so, to ensure that you truly are constantly safeguarded. And we thought hourly updates were impressive.
Alongside the anti-virus module, Norton also offers the obligatory firewall, anti-spam and browser protection features. The anti-spam integrates with Outlook (and Outlook Express) and automatically blocks dangerous mails (i.e. those with scripts or other potentially dodgy content). The browser protection installs a useful toolbar in Internet Explorer or Firefox which gives an anti-phishing analysis of any site at the click of a button.
Other bases are also covered: anti-malware measures are provided for common instant messenger programs (MSN, AOL and Yahoo), and Norton 2009 includes thoughtful touches such as a silent running mode. Turn this on and the suite won’t bother you with alerts and messages, dealing with them itself and not interrupting your movie or gaming frag-fest.
For extra online security the identity safe module lets the user store sensitive information such as login passwords or credit card details. It keeps these safely encrypted and enters them automatically for you to avoid any chance of a key logger picking up on them. Not that Norton should let anything like that on your system in the first place, but it’s a handy additional layer of security.
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