Norton Inner Circle: Getting Ready for Norton 2010

Norton Productions

OK.  Exactly how do I get recruited into the Norton Inner Circle, I cannot recall.  Maybe I am an excellent specimen who needs extra … protection.  Or maybe I am one crazy beta tester who is willing to surf porn dubious sites on a holy mission.  6.30 pm sharp I turned up at the Pan Pacific Hotel.  I recognize quite a few familiar faces (like Lester!) and was ready for an intensive knowledge download all the way till 10pm.

Gasp!

But I am really glad to be at the event and hear the experts from Norton who flew in all the way from US and Australia and meet with the media and those in the business for a couple of days in Singapore.  This is the team who is behind monitoring all the threats from the world’s malicious hackers.  They are also behind the development of the upcoming Norton products.  I am not technologically inclined and the number one burning question I have was …

Who get to come up with all the cool computer virus names like W32.Koobface.C or Bloodhound.Exploit.264?

The statistics are mind blowing.  In year 2002, there were about 20,547 different kinds of viruses and threats.  5 years later, the number has grown to more than half a million.  This year, we have 2.5 million and counting.  An estimated 120 million ‘signatures’ recorded since 2002.  Imagine if each virus maker or threat originator was to plant a tree instead for each virus they create, the world would have been a much better place.  Think about all the added carbon footprint just to fix this virtual problem that in the past, these people did it for fame.  And now, for the money.

Plant trees, not viruses!

But fear not.  If there was no crime, we wouldn’t have police.  If there was no cybercrime, we wouldn’t have the big N to keep us cyberly safe.  Throughout the presentation, Norton has shared with us the history of computer threats and how they evolve.  Most of you are perhaps familiar with the need to have the anti-virus to scan our computers for known viruses and firewall to block attacks from the network.  Maybe less so on the vulnerability attack or intrusion through the ‘common doors’ we open for network communications and the chance for our computer to be zombie-fied and do it’s new master’s evil deed!  And because of the fake websites and applications that are designed to trick us into providing them with our personal information or even legitimate websites that are seeded with bad stuffs that automatically infest your computer by you merely surfing the site, the threat – to me – seems very real.  Cybercriminals ought to be punished, in my humble opinion.

Year 2009, Norton from Symantec has officially released the Norton Insight (read previous entry for my hands-on experience) that leverages on the community’s help in identifying what are the trusted files and what are not.  It is an opt-in program to send the footprints of the downloaded files to their lab for profiling with the rest of the community.  I opted in as I am cool with it.  No personal information is sent to Norton and they are not interested in the content of the downloaded files either.  For the past 3 years, millions have participated in this program to make our virtual world a safer place.  And so have I starting this year.

In this upcoming release, Norton takes it one step further and closes the gap on the gray area between what is trusted and what is not.  You will hear more from me later, perhaps next month.

Having seen the behind-the-scene on how the Norton team monitor the global threats (pretty cool with a war map like a computer game or what you would have expected Obama to see inside the Pentagon), the stringent key performance indicators on the performance (one of their senior VPs has mentioned during a BusinessWeek interview last August that Norton will not ship [their products] until they are the fastest in the world *gasp*), and how they upkeep with the product quality, I have decided to sign up as their guinea pig for the beta testing / preview of Norton 2010.

So what will I do as a guinea pig?  Norton didn’t give me much guideline.  Since I am a creative dude, what I will do for a start is to open up all my daily spam comments in my website (quite a lot), click onto each of the spam link and see if my computer would get an infection.  I always fantasize to be a cybernanny and ‘investigate’ on those dubious sites on a daily basis.  Man, this could be fun!  Wish me luck.

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