Also new is the Block Traffic button, which stops all Net activity with one click, much like ZoneAlarm's similar feature. NPF 2003 also blocks banners and pop-up and pop-under ads; it displays a Security Monitor (a miniwindow on the desktop that offers access to all of Firewall's features); and the app now includes a graphical mapper that shows the location of intruding computers and hackers. NPF 2003 has also improved its alerts, providing more information on each alert's meaning and providing hints on how to combat such attacks.
NPF 2003 passed the ShieldsUp and Port Scanner tests with ease. Using another computer, we sniffed the Internet for our test computer, but NPF 2003 blocked every attempt to gain entry and cloaked every port. This is comparable to the results of ZoneAlarm Pro and McAfee Firewall. See CNET Labs' tests for more details.
Symantec's online support remains superb; simply click through a series of online forms to find a solution in the support database or search through user-submitted queries--a neat feature that more companies should offer on their tech-support sites. You can also e-mail tech support for free, although you have to click through several screens to reach the point where you can post a message. Symantec claims that it answers most queries by the end of the next business day; ours were answered in a few hours. Telephone support costs a small fortune: $30 per question or $3 per minute.
At $50, NPF 2003 is pricey for a firewall. Its saving grace: a $20 mail-in rebate both for Symantec product owners and users of McAfee, ZoneLabs, and BlackIce PC Protection firewalls. However, we recommend either paying a bit more to get everything included in Norton Internet Security 2003 or spending nothing at all for ZoneAlarm 3.0