Symantec Norton Internet Security 2006
At a Glance
Symantec's Norton Internet Security 2006 is a mature product that performs nicely--so nicely that we named it the Best Buy among ten security suites we looked at. On the downside, it can provide too many alerts and take up excess room on your desktop.
The suite ($70 as of 4/15/06) offers a lot of features. It comes with antivirus, antispyware, and firewall protection, as well as parental controls, antispam capabilities, privacy functions, and IM protection. The package was easy to install and to configure for our network.
Since the default settings leave a lot of warnings and alerts turned on, the suite communicates with you frequently for the first few days you use it. One talkative feature is the Norton Protection Center, which installs a second taskbar icon in addition to the Norton Internet Security taskbar icon. It lets you know how well protected you are in five basic areas of PC maintenance: Security Basics, Email & Messaging, Web Browsing, Data Recovery, and Performance. In a thinly veiled marketing attempt, however, the Data Recovery category will read 'No Coverage' until you buy and use Symantec's separate $50 Norton SystemWorks package. (Another irksome issue: Symantec's 24-hour telephone tech support costs $30 per incident.)
In performance evaluations conducted by AV-Test.org, Symantec's suite performed consistently well in malware (including adware) detection, cleanup, and firewall tests. It was also the third-fastest to complete an on-demand scan; the effects of its real-time protection on system performance, though, were mixed. It caused a 27 percent increase in the time necessary to run a Microsoft Office test and a 13 percent increase in the execution time of a Microsoft Windows Media Encoder test, but only an insignificant 2 percent increase in the time needed to run a Musicmatch Jukebox test script.
Symantec's warning dialog boxes are generally easy to read, but they can be a bit sensitive, particularly when the Privacy Control is set at high. One firewall warning noted that my Cisco VPN Client was trying to access the network and correctly classified the activity as low-risk. In contrast, on another occasion it identified cookies from PCWorld.com and AccuWeather.com as high-risk.
Overall, Symantec's suite is well designed and easy to use. However, intermediate to advanced users won't like the overbearing Norton Protection Center, and budget-conscious buyers won't appreciate the fact that just two telephone tech support calls can nearly double the cost of the software.