Norton 360 Now Onto Version 5

In the past one year, I still have friends who are amazed at the misconceptions they have on Norton products after finally giving the products a try.  So, I will do a quick summary here, even though these are old news for the existing Norton users.

Norton security line of products – 360, Internet Security, and Antivirus – battle online threats.  Installing the application from scratch only takes a couple of minutes.  The CPU and memory usage is low and it does not slow your computer down (OK, not that you can feel it).  In fact, they have real time monitoring graphs comparing Norton related tasks and other system tasks and be transparent about it.  Norton uses pulse live update technology.  This means updated security definitions from Norton global site are sent to your computer in real time, as and when they are available.  Full system scan is quietly performed in the background while you are away from your computer.  And it is done incrementally, over the days.  There are little unnecessary notifications from Norton application.  I receive a security summary report at the end of the month, alerts when I am trying to download an executable file that is still relatively new to the global community (Norton uses the community to derive insights), and reminders for PC tune up (because I am using 360).  That is about all the notifications I have got from running Norton.

I value security and online protection.  And I would only go for the best in the market.  Below is an excerpt that may mean more to those who want to read the official results.

In recent third-party testing, Norton 360 version 5.0 achieved a 100 percent protection score for online threat detection from Dennis Technology Labs, whose methodology has received a 100 percent compliance rating from the Anti-Malware Testing Standards Organization (AMTSO).

To be frank, I am not that technologically inclined.  I need something fuss free and yet gives me a peace of mind.  For those of you who are interested in what’s new, under the hood, Norton has now gathered about 175 million contributing Symantec users to study the software adoption patterns anonymously (I too have opted in) that in turn automatically identify and block new threats for the entire Norton user base.  Also, they have packed in SONAR 3, a behavioral protection monitors running applications for suspicious behavior to quickly identify new attacks, crimeware, and other threats designed to evade traditional detection.

Why get a Norton 360 when Norton Internet Security seems sufficient?  360 allows you to perform online backup (2GB or up to 25GB for premium edition), which I seldom use.  Mainly because what is important to me does not fit into a 2GB space.  And whatever I can fit into a 2GB space, there are other online options out there.  Personally, I enjoy using the PC Tuneup tool, which is unique to Norton 360.  It allows me to easily decide which application is allowed to be run during startup and I can now set priority to autostart applications so as to make my computer more responsive.  I also like the option to cleanup the registry, temporary files, and etc. at ease.  Norton 360 comes with a parental control management tool.  I don’t have kids at home.  But I can imagine the stress of having to manage how kids these days use the Internet.  360 can help on that.

People usually ask me how much it costs to install Norton products.  Here is the suggested retail price list for Singapore users.  All prices are for 1 year protection.  S$65 for 1 PC licence.  S$129 for 3 PC licence.  And if you need a larger online backup space of 25GB, the premium edition is S$149 for 3 PC license. It would be good if Norton offers us a more flexible licensing option. Such as a different pricing for 1 PC, 2 PC up to a household worth of PC. Also, having some loyalty programs or a deeper discount for multi-years subscriptions would be good.

There are a couple of things you may wish to know about purchase and installation.  So long as you have an active subscription, you can update the version whenever it is available.  You don’t need to buy a new version when it is out.  Simply make an update within the Norton application.  Some prefer to buy the box instead of renewing online (some claim it is cheaper that way).  By doing so, your number of days remaining for an active subscription will be reset to 366 days.  So, it is best to do it when your license expires.  If you are unable to install the application using the disk (one of my machines is not able to read the disk, for some strange reasons), you can go online chat with the Norton service consultant and have the application downloaded instead.

As always, drop me a comment here if you have more questions.  I hope this entry is useful.

Time To Choose A Powerful Security Suite – Norton Internet Security 2011

After installing the new Norton Internet Security 2011 into one of my computers at home, I opened up my web browser to rearrange my toolbars.  The moment I stacked one of the toolbars onto the Google toolbar, I have received a notification from Norton saying that the downloaded file is likely to be safe.  But wait.  I did not download a file, did I? It turns out that Google toolbar has behind the scene downloaded an executable.  If not for Norton, I would not have known.  Another time, I was downloading a video driver from a trusted source.  After the download is completed, I have received a warning message from Norton saying that the file may not be safe.  Very few people have downloaded and used the file, it said.  That was strange.  I went ahead and started the installation.  True enough, the file was corrupted and could not be used.  Norton knew it before I did.

You may be able to relate to this.  Every now and then, one of my friends would pop me an instant message with some suspicious links, and then go offline.  Or those emails I have received from my friends with dubious subjects.  These are the signs of accounts being hacked.  I would, of course, contact my friends by phone and ask them to do something about it.

I suppose what I am trying to share is that the threats are real and there are many things that happen behind the scene when we are connected to the Internet.  Through casual chats with my friends as well as a survey hosted in my website, I learn that all of us have had negative online experience one form or another.  And one of the greatest fear is to have our online identify stolen.  When asked how then to prevent ourselves from being the victims of the cyber-criminals, some think that having a firewall is good enough.  Or when a padlock icon that indicates a secured website is shown, it is safe (it is certainly not so, please remember that).  One told me that by avoiding to connect to the Internet unless absolutely needs to, the risk is mitigated (which is not, because the operating system and applications need to be updated regularly).  Some feel that they can judge whether or not a website is safe to open (well, even reputed websites can be hijacked).  And etc.

My question back to some of you would be: Why go through so much hassle trying to be safe?  Why not get the best protection out there to safeguard your online identity and personal digital assets?

The Facts and Data

With so many products in the market today, which one should you have?  I would recommend Norton Internet Security.  But don’t just take my word for it.  Have a look at the Passmark Consumer Antivirus Performance Benchmark (2011) dated 30 Sep 2010 and decide for yourself.

I have always enjoy attending Norton’s blogger events, hearing all the juicy stories and the behind-the-scene actions as Norton battles with the works of the cyber-criminals.  David Hall, the regional product and marketing manager from Norton was present in the event.  And I have always admired his enthusiasm and he being able to talk for hours and hours in the topic of cyber-protection.  This time, he brought along a briefcase full of credit cards acquired in one of the illegal underground circles in Europe.  You will be amazed by how easy and cheap to buy a credit cards of stolen identities, he said to us with a huge grin.  In Singapore, the top 5 cyber-crimes are: computer viruses or malware, online scams, phishing, social network profile hacking, and online credit card fraud.  71% of Singaporeans do not expect cyber-criminals to be brought to justice.  It takes an average of 24 days to resolve a cyber-crime and the costs on overage is S$1,660.  It is up to us to change this.  Get ourselves protected is one.  Report to authority is another.

Norton Internet Security 2011

If you are an active subscriber for the 2010 version, all you need to do is to right click onto the Norton icon on your system track, and select “Check for New Version”.  You should be able to update to the new 2011 version free.

So, what are the differences between the 2010 and 2011 version?  To be totally honest with you, I have computers that run on different editions of Internet Security, 360, and Gaming Edition so much so that I got a little bit disoriented on the subtle differences.  The 2011 version still progressively scans my computer when I am away from keyboard, still receives pulse updates constantly behind the scene, and checks the files against a reputation mechanism built by the Norton community (see below).  It still consumes very little computing power and when I run my games, Norton enters into silence mode.

What I do find therapeutic to look at is the new world map that blinks (see below for a cropped screenshot).  When I click onto a region in the map, a ticker appears underneath to show live data on the number of threats blocked by Norton.  I can also switch the ticker into the detail mode and look at those strangely named viruses and malwares.  This world map is so wonderful that next time when I get to meet David Hall, I would suggest to have it expanded into a full screen to see all the actions in glory.  They should have Norton TV too, as part of the awareness program.

Additional Useful FREE Tools

OK.  If you have read this far, you deserve to have some rewards.  During the blogger event, David Hall has shared with us some of the free tools out there for the online community.  And here they are for sharing.

  1. Norton Power Eraser – If you think that you (or one of your friends) have become a victim of a cyber-crime and the security suite of your choice is not able to remove it, you can download the Norton Power Eraser from here.  It will help you to solve the problem.  This is a reactive measure.  I still recommend you to have a good protection all the time.
  2. Norton Safe Web (for Facebook) – If you are a Facebook user, it is worthwhile to install this application.  What it does is to scan all the links posted by your friends on your wall and news feed and protect you from accidentally clicking onto any unsafe sites.  You can enable auto-scan too.  I do just that.  You can search for this application within Facebook.
  3. Norton DNS – If you wish to protect your home network at the router level, you may consider using the Norton DNS.  Although I have two computers at home, I have a lot more home devices that are connected to the Internet.  What Norton DNS does is to protect all the home devices.  You may download the tool from here.  There is a FAQ section to answer your queries.

As always, drop me a comment here if you have any question.  I am happy to help.

Stand A Chance To Win A Norton Internet Security Software Today!

Avid readers of my website by now should know that whenever I host a simple contest here, you stand a very good chance to win.  Personally I like this contest because the underlying message is good.  If I have kids, I would dive straight into the free Norton Online Family, which I am going to share with you briefly in a moment’s time.  If you like what you read here, please share the link with your families and friends.  Meanwhile, email to me the answers to the following three questions by August 20, 2010 and stand a chance to win Norton Internet Security 2010 (upgradable to 2011).  Winners will be notified by Norton directly the following week.

  1. Have you had a negative online experience?
  2. What is your greatest fear when you are online?
  3. How do you keep yourself safe in the cyber world?

You may ask: what is a negative online experience?  Generally speaking, it falls into the following categories.

  • Downloaded a virus
  • Responded to an online scam
  • Saw violent /nude images
  • Someone they don’t know online has asked them to meet them in the ‘real’ world
  • Receiving ‘sexts’ from someone they don’t know

If you have kids at home, or know someone who has, you ought to check out the free Norton Online Family.  It helps you to understand what your kids are doing online, down to the search phrases they enter.  It also helps you to block sites of certain categories and limit the number of hours your kids spend online.  Alerts can be sent to you when there are activities that require your attention.  Where applicable, you can relax certain rules such as the number of hours spent online for that day or unblock a certain site as requested by your kids.  I believe it is less about control but more about being able to manage with the right information.

The immediate benefit I can think of is that you do not need to watch over the shoulders of your kids all the time.  Besides, survey shows that 6 in 10 parents do not always know what their kids see online.  With Norton Online Family, you can manage your kids’ online activity from a safe distance.  I reckon kids would appreciate parents who exercise transparency, interest in them, as well as good intend, yes?

Click here to visit the Norton Online Family.

Before I close off this entry, below are some advice for parents shared by Norton.  And don’t forget to send in the answers.  If you like what you read, do share the words.

  1. Regularly talk about online activities and show an interest
  2. Encourage your children to come to you if they experience anything unpleasant online
  3. Maintain up to date security software to protect your computer from any malicious software inadvertently downloaded
  4. Prepare kids for good or bad experiences
  5. Highlight the importance of thinking before clicking and downloading
  6. Use a browser search advisor to identify safe/unsafe sites
  7. Children need to know that their parents will listen and not blame or punish them when things go wrong online

External Link: Norton Online Family

Note: This contest is opened for those who are living in Singapore only.

Norton 360 Version 4.0 – Are You Well Protected? Need A Little Tuneup?

Avid readers may recall that not too long ago, I have written an article on Norton Internet Security 2010.  I am happy to hear that Norton continues to be light and secure, does not require much tweaking (“set and forget” is their design philosophy), and in this new Norton 360, it has a new reputation service, improved anti-phishing, improved scanning performance, a new download insight, web-based access to backup files, as well as improved startup manager.  To be honest, my previous Norton installation seems very fast and safe in my book.  I can hardly feel the difference for this new product, which is great of course.  Still fast, still safe.  It better be!

What are improved, I observe, are the PC tuneup function and the online backup option.  For the technologically inclined, PC tuneup may not be crucial.  But for someone like me who is a regular PC user, PC tuneup is a great place for me to (1) decide which are the programs I wish to run at start-up and in what priority, (2) clean up my file system including registry, (3) optimize my hard disk (defragmentation), and (4) run a diagnostic report on everything I wish to know about my computer – from hardware to software.  And I can say it with conviction PC tuneup has helped me a great deal.  My computer startup time has improved.  Seems to run faster too.

Online backup is an interesting feature.  Norton 360 v4.0 comes with a 2 GB online storage.  You can back up your Document directory or any directory in your file system securely online.  And restore if need to.  It does take some time for the first backup to complete, especially if you have a large backup set.  At home, I have a Network-attached Storage and an external backup device permanently attached to my computer so, this online backup service may not be something that I rely solely on (no harm having extra backup, having said that).  I can imagine that if you do not have a regular backup, this online backup can be useful.

Of the many great features that Norton products have, one of my favorite ones is Norton file insight (see below with file name masked).  Whenever I download an executable from the Internet, Norton prompts me on how trusted this file could be.  And based on the insight, I can make an informed decision on whether or not I shall risk running it.  One time, while I was downloading the latest video driver from ATI website, Norton warned me that the file may not be trusted as not many users have downloaded that and it was very new.  It turns out that that version of the file was corrupted.

I have got asked a lot how much the Norton products that featured in my website cost.  For this particular one, the suggested retail price is SGD 129 for the three PC license.

Norton Internet Security 2010 Is Here!

The front of Norton IS 2010

I genuinely buy into the idea that there are people out there who are going all out to make our lives miserable for profit, and for pride.  I run a website having to deal with hundreds of spam comments each day that come with thousands of dubious links.  And I wonder: Why are there people out there doing something so unproductive affecting millions of people every second of the day?  The reality is, these people not only want to disrupt your life by destroying your data, but also want to steal your identity in order to make money.  I have had the opportunity to attend a workshop held by the Norton team July this year.  The threat is real.  It is not a question of “are you protected”.  Rather, how well are you protected against the ever evolving threats.  Instead of telling you what Norton Internet Security 2010 is, here are the reasons why I choose the Norton product and want no less.

1. The Power of Community Insight to Tackle the Unknown-Unknown

Years in the making, Norton has established a community network to tackle not only the black and white, but also the gray area.  As seen below, the fingerprints of more than 66 millions files (note: NOT the actual file) have been submitted to Norton by the community.  We know what are the good ones, the bad ones, and what are the ones that trust is yet to be earned.

Think about this.  With the ever growing list of viruses, spyware, trojan horses, worms, bots, and rootkits, it seems counter productive to scan every file in your computer all the time.  So, the concept of a community insight is to share the knowledge amongst the Norton users and skip those trusted files in your next scan.  Reputation of unknown files are built that way too.

To tacklet the unknown unknown

2. Working Silently in the Background

One thing I really like about the new generation of Norton products is that they work behind-in-scene without much interaction and disruption to your work.  The moment I step away from my computer, Norton will scan my computer in the background.  The moment I grab my mouse, the scan will be paused and resumed the next time I make my cup of coffee.  Every so often, there is a pulse live update to make sure that my computer is protected with the very latest update.  For the tech experts out there, the memory footprint of Norton is only less than 10MB.  To give you an idea of what it means, Microsoft Live Messenger utilizes 30MB of my computer’s memory.

3. Feel Safe Surfing the Web

When you Google something going through the search results, how do you know which ones are safe to click onto?  With this Norton product, now you can.  Just take a look at the picture below, the little green ticks mean OK to click onto (thank God!).  For malicious sites, you will be warned.  Do note that there are sites out there that may hijack the real ones, look like the real ones.  That too can be detected by this Norton product.

Google my own site ...

You can also turn on the parental control function if you have kids at home (not me!).  And this Norton product also offers to store the user IDs and passwords for you.  I prefer to use my [physical] personal diary to keep track of all my user IDs and passwords.  Just so that I may still remember them when I am not using my home computer.  These functions may be relevant to some.

Other Thoughts

I am a simple dude.  I just want an industrial standard tool to protect my home computers from online threats.  You may also wish to know that I have tried out their online support recently.  It was kind of cool.  The Norton service consultant actually took control of my computer thousands of miles away from my home.  All I needed to do was to stare at the computer screen and ‘monitor’ how the consultant resolved my problem.  I am impressed by his or her professionalism (though I nearly fell asleep halfway).

Also comes with Internet Security 2010 are a few tools to monitor the network security as well as the application ‘trust’ ratings.  As of now, they are of less use to me.  But I would suppose these tools would come handy when I become paranoid and want to see if there are some strange applications running in the background, or a stranger is logging onto my network.

Many friends whom I talk to often ask me how much it costs to run Norton products at home.  Below is from the official source.  And of course, I take no commission.  How nice if otherwise!  Do drop me a comment or write to me if you have questions.  I may be able to get you an official response.

The suggested retail price for Norton Internet Security 2010 is SGD89.00 for a three PC license and SGD59.00 for a single PC license and for Norton AntiVirus 2010 is SGD65.00 for a three PC license and SGD39.00 for a single PC license.  The price includes one-year service subscription to use the product and receive Symantec’s protection updates.