Review Norton Internet Security 2012

The officcial Norton Internet Security 2012 Site promises a ton of good features that will catch the attention of the average customer. But what’s behind the marketing? Evebugs asked me to find out, and so I did.

I will not talk about how good Norton Internet Security 2012 is at things like finding viruses and malware or how fast it updates, that requires expert knowledge which I simply do not have. Instead, I had a good look at the usability and features it provides from a customer point of view.

So, let’s start with the very first thing that you encounter: The Setup.

The Setup only took a minute or two, but never gave me any options. I never got the chance to change the install location, set any options or generally do anything but clicking install. I am notoriously lacking space on my hard drive and would have loved to install the whole thing on a different partition – not a chance. Once the sorfware is installed, it presents a very good looking, yet not in any way standardized, user interface. It features a damn cool live view (or at least it claims to be live) of virus activities around the whole world. The setup also installs a Windows widget on my Desktop, obviously without me agreeing to that. At the first start I had to create an account at Norton so I could start using the software. The account holds the days left of my subscription as well as an email address and a password.

Once the Setup was done, I quickly checked all settings and the first major minus point for the software hit me right there: There was no update triggered of the virus definitions and signatures. The GUI happily proclaimed – in green font – that my definitions are 73 days old. I am normally used to antivirus software screaming at the top of its virtual lungs when the definitions are older than 10 days, but this does apparently not happen here. So I started a manual update, which downloaded some 13 updates and then asked for a reboot – ouch. There should realy be no need for a reboot anymore, especially not under Windows 7. So after a reboot, I had a quick check at the default settings.

The default settings seem ok to me, and will work for most people. The only thing I do not understand is why removing of infected compressed files is not activated by default. Apart from that, everything looks ok. A very nice feature is, after disabling things like the firewall and re-enabling them, the software starts a so called quick scan of vital parts. The proclaimed “quick” scan took about 15 minutes on my machine and did not allow me to hide the window, which is annoying at best. Also, while the scan was running, the rest of the application was extremely slow to react to user input. A positive surprise was that the scan also killed a few tracking cookies from my system, a feature I have not yet seen in an antivirus.

But after that, the negative things started to come up. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of good ideas in this software that I have not seen in other products, but they all have the same problem: The new Norton Internet Security 2012 suite is another example for good intentions with bad implementation.

It is a great idea to implement IM scanning, but it only supports a few officcial clients. The list is realy short: Yahoo! Messanger, AOL Instant Messanger, MSN Messanger and Trillian. Why not support pidgin or miranda? They are realy wide spread, and the big player that’s missing is Skype. And as far as I know, most malware uses IRC to receive commands, so checking that would have been a good idea too.

Same story continues with the Identiy Safe and the mail scan. The Norton website says that the Identity Safe supports Chrome (not tested), the Interface only shows me options for the Internet Explorer. Hello? Firefox anyone? After checking my addon list in Firefox I found the problem: They install a plugin, but it isn’t compatible with Firefox 7.0.1. Also, I do NOT trust a software that saves my CreditCard information, along with logins and passwords to the cloud, even if it would make my life a bit easyer because of the sync feature. The mail scan only showed options for Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express, I did not even bother checking if it can tap into Thunderbird. Also, shouldn’t it scan Windows Live Mail instead of Outlook Express? Just a thought. Also, when configuring mail scanning the software offers a GUI to select the ports for SMTP and POP, but when I tried to change SMTP scanning to port 993, I was greeted with an error telling me that is no standard port for SMTP. Well yea, it is used for TLS, but what if I realy have unencrypted SMTP traffic over that port? Apparently, Norton decided this is not possible.

The firewall is also rather strange. It is set up to auto learn about programs, but during all my testing, it never blocked a single program or asked if I want a program to connect to the internet. So, without granting access I could for example use SSH, Firefox, Skype, Pidgin, Thunderbird, Windows Explorer with remote shares etc. The list goes on and on, but I never was promted for permission. In fact, I am not sure if the firewall actually does anything at all agains outgoing traffic with the default settings.

The Interface itself is also not optimal. It has fancy animations and a truckload of buttons and links and requires a lot of searching reading and clicking around to find a specific setting. Most settings end up in a link that opens a new window. It is simply not possible to quickly check any setting with this, and some windows that pop up only offer 2 settings – why this cannot be handled in the main window is beyond me.

Conclusion: I like the fact that they include tracking cookies in the scan and some of the features realy have potential but still lack support for quite a few important clients. I absolutely hate the fact that the software seems to save everything it can in the cloud, especially Login and Credit Card information and that the standard settings for the firewall seem to do nothing. If those things are fixed, I might consider reinstalling the product, but until then I will stay away from this.

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  1. Review Norton Mobile Security for Android | CodeCrack - pingback on 2011/10/30 at 16:15
  2. don wonnell

    Trying to renew Norton 360 at least 5 times over 2 months, get the invoice ready online, then it freezes. Contacted “Nathan” several times, nothing works.

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