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Norton Security Scan
Phishing Protection Results Chart All four independent antivirus testing labs that I follow include Norton in their regular reports. Scores range from good to excellent. Norton’s aggregate lab score of 8. Kaspersky tops the list, with a perfect 10 points, and Bitdefender is a close second with 9. Norton scored very well in my hands-on malware protection tests. With 9. Challenged with malware-hosting URLs, Norton defended the test system by blocking all access to about one-third and wiping out the malware download for another two-thirds.
Its overall 99 percent protection rate is the best among current products. For many years, Norton was my touchstone for antiphishing tests, with a detection rate typically in the high nineties. This time around, its score tumbled to a dismal 40 percent detection; Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer all scored substantially better. The result was so peculiar that I repeated the test using Norton in Chrome rather than Internet explorer, but there was no improvement.
I even repeated the test one more time under Symantec Norton Security Deluxe for Mac , with exactly the same results. After that review came out, my Symantec contact let me know that “the team” had discovered the reason for the low score, and fixed it.
That left me wondering what would have happened had I not reported my findings. I didn’t really want to test Norton a fourth time, but I found a way to streamline the process, testing it in tandem with Avast Free Antivirus and AVG. Its score came out slightly better, but not enough to move it higher in the ranking. Norton detected and blocked more exploits than any other product I’ve tested, and it caught the attacks at the network level, before they even reached the browser. Shortly after installation, Norton offers to install several tools in your browser, and it walks you through the installation process.
These include Norton Safe Search, which marks dangerous search results; Norton Home Page, which puts Safe Search and a collection of quick links on your home page; and Norton Toolbar, which rates the pages you visit and includes a search box.
Your Norton installation gets you Symantec Norton Password Manager , also available for free as a standalone product. The password manager can sync across all your devices and now includes an actionable password strength report, with automated password updates for selected popular sites.
Norton Antispam integrates with Microsoft Outlook to divert spam into its own folder; those using a different email client must define a message rule to toss the marked spam messages. Other bonus features shared by this suite and the antivirus include a tool to manage files that launch at startup, a disk optimizer, and a simple file cleanup tool. Self-Sufficient Firewall As noted, Norton’s antivirus product includes an intrusion prevention system, a feature usually associated with firewall protection.
The suite includes a full-scale firewall, which both protects against outside attack and prevents misuse of your internet connection by local programs.
As expected, the firewall correctly stealthed all ports and fended off port scans and other web-based attacks. Given that the built-in Windows Firewall completely handles this task, this test is only relevant if a third-party firewall doesn’t pass.
Back in the early days of personal firewalls , users drowned in confusing queries. Norton is smarter than that. To start, it uses a vast online database to assign network permissions for known good programs. Known bad programs are already gone, of course, zapped by the antivirus component. That leaves the unknowns. For those, Norton cranks up the sensitivity of its behavior-based malware detection.
If it determines that the program is misusing its network access permissions, Norton cuts that connection and quarantines the program. This isn’t the full journal-and-rollback functionality that Webroot SecureAnywhere Internet Security Plus uses to manage unknown programs, but it does the job.
The firewall in Kaspersky Internet Security also handles program control internally, but it uses a somewhat different system. It uses its own online database to assign a trust level to each program, and allows only restricted system access to those programs that aren’t fully trusted.
Firewall protection, or security suite protection in general, isn’t much use if a malicious program can disable it. I always run a simple sanity check, trying various methods to shut down protection, focusing on techniques available to a malware coder.
Norton doesn’t expose important settings in the Registry, so I couldn’t just set protection to disabled. I got an Access Denied message when I tried to terminate its two processes. Likewise, I couldn’t stop or disable its single Windows service. Protecting essential processes and services makes sense, but not all products manage it.
I had no trouble disabling protection by ThreatTrack Vipre Advanced Security and adaware, for example. Varied Performance Results A dozen or more years ago was the age of the dinosaur, as far as security suites go. Popular suites, including Norton, deservedly got a reputation for chewing up system resources and stomping on performance.
In truth, performance problems quickly become security problems, as disgusted users turn off protection. We’re well out of the dinosaur age, but I still run some performance tests to see which suites have the lightest touch. Real-time on-access protection systems necessarily keep an eye on file-system operations, so they can scan any suspicious files before they have a chance to launch.
There’s a possibility this vigilant monitoring could put a drag on file operations, which could be problematic. To check for this kind of system drag, I start by timing a lengthy script that moves and copies a varied collection of files between drives. I average multiple runs, then install the security suite and average multiple runs again, comparing the averages.
I didn’t find any slowdown with Norton installed; the script ran just as fast as with no suite. For another look at file operations, I time a similar test that repeatedly zips and unzip the same collection of files. Here again, Norton had no measurable effect on performance. Performance Results Chart A security suite’s antivirus service and other essential components must load early during the Windows boot process, to make sure no malware weasels into the system before they’re ready. There’s always a possibility that getting these important systems running will slow down the boot process itself.
To measure a suite’s effect on system boot time, I use a script that runs at startup and checks CPU usage once per second.
When 10 seconds elapse with no more than five percent CPU usage, I deem the system ready for use. Subtracting the start of the boot process as reported by Windows yields the boot time.
As with the other tests, I average multiple runs before and after installing the security suite. Norton slowed the boot process by 55 percent, which is on the high side, and peculiar given that in my last test it didn’t exhibit any slowdown at all.
The result was unusual enough that I uninstalled the suite, restored a clean disk image, and repeated the test.
However, I got the same result. On the plus side, you probably don’t reboot very often, and needing an extra half-minute for the process may not be a bother. Almost all current security suites have a light enough touch that you shouldn’t notice any drag on performance. Admittedly, some are lighter than others. For example, Webroot, Bitdefender Internet Security , and adaware didn’t show any measurable slowdown in my three simple tests.
Sign in to your Norton account and enter the email address used on the device you want to protect. Unlike the similar feature in McAfee Internet Security , you don’t have to choose the platform. Clicking the emailed link on the device automatically selects the proper download. On an Android device, you get the multi-faceted Norton Mobile Security. Immediately after installation, the antivirus runs an update and a scan. You also must activate the app as a Device Administrator to make use of its anti-theft features, and give it Accessibility permission so it can scan apps on Google Play.
Norton scans for malicious and risky apps, as expected. More interestingly, its App Advisor works inside Google Play, checking every app you tap and reporting the risk level.
Tap the small notification at the bottom to see details of App Advisor’s findings. That’s something I haven’t seen in any competing products. On an Android phone , you can block unwanted calls and messages.
Norton can automatically add numbers to the block list if you decline the call multiple times, and by default it blocks known fraudulent and spam calls. You can block calls from private numbers, calls from anyone not in your contacts, and calls from specific regions.
You can invoke Norton’s extensive set of anti-theft features via the web console or by sending coded SMS commands. At setup, it generates a passcode that you’ll need to invoke anti-theft features.
You can use the app to locate, lock, or wipe the device, and the scream feature helps find a misplaced device at home. When you lock the device, it displays a contact message of your choice, so someone who finds your lost device can arrange to return it. The Sneak Peek feature lets you remotely and silently snap a photo of whoever is holding the device. When you lock a lost or stolen device, it automatically snaps a photo every 10 minutes, and reports its location every five minutes.
Sneak Peek also triggers automatically on suspicious actions such as entering the wrong unlock code multiple times. In addition, you can remotely back up your contacts before resorting to the Wipe command, which performs a factory reset. If your phone is well and truly lost, putting it in Lost Mode combines several anti-theft features to help you find it.
It locks the device and displays a custom message. It sounds an audible alarm, even if the device’s sound is muted. It also reports the device’s location every five minutes. Finally, it takes a Sneak Peek photo whenever it detects activity on the phone.
A page of links lets you easily install: Suite for macOS Security A common pattern with cross-platform suites is to give Windows users a full security suite with tons of features, but just a plain antivirus on macOS. Symantec Norton Security Deluxe for Mac goes beyond basic antivirus, adding a full two-way firewall, a password manager, and a cleanup utility to eliminate junk files. You can read my review for full details; I’ll hit the high points here.
In my phishing protection test, it scored the same as on Windows, meaning it did quite poorly.
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