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Last year Symantec made impressive gains, having pared down the code base and lowered the price on its Internet suite, so it makes sense we'd see more modest enhancements for this year's Norton. Aside from several user interface issues, our biggest complaint with Norton Internet Security 2008 is that it left us feeling as though we were missing something, not a feeling you want from a suite of Internet protection tools. The configuration choices are often only to enable or disable features, so advanced users will be disappointed, and the much-talked-about Norton AntiBot protection is not included but requires the purchase of yet another $30 product from Symantec. At $79, shouldn't we get everything Symantec has to offer in terms of protection? Apparently not.
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Photo by: Symantec
If first impressions are everything, Norton Internet Security 2008 loses us at "Hello." The new interface design is dark and garish, almost a perverse joke on those who seek reassuring security for their desktop. The use of ominous, thick black borders and orange graphics suggests Halloween, a look that could get old with regular use.
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Photo by: Symantec
Live Update, which used to be a separate process, is now integrated into Norton Internet Security 2008, and it's about time. When you're asked to update, everything--program files and signature files--arrives on your desktop in much smaller packets, making the experience smoother and easier.
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Photo by: Symantec
Like Microsoft, which has moved away from letting the user control the Windows experience, Symantec limits (if not removes) the ability to customize and tweak individual settings, such as setting Norton Antivirus to scan only new or recently modified files. We had the feeling we should be able to do more, yet couldn't find the settings. Once you do find the configuration settings you want, you still have to then drill down, and often you are limited to enabling or disabling features, continuing with a practice adopted long ago by Symantec of making decisions for the user rather than presenting options.
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Photo by: Symantec
Symantec's antiphishing component for Internet Explorer and Firefox was OK but not outstanding. While five sites visited on one day is hardly enough to endorse or condemn an antiphishing tool, in our tests McAfee SiteAdvisor, Exploit Labs Prevention Linkscanner, and Netcraft's Antiphishing toolbar also blocked the sites that Symantec missed. This strongly suggests that Symantec has a bit of work to do in order to compete on this level.
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Photo by: Symantec
Not enabled by default, on first use you'll be asked to make Norton antiphishing the default for each browser. We do not recommend you do that. The antiphishing support native in Internet Explorer 7 and Firefox 2 both worked better to filter phishing sites than did Symantec's in our testing. We visited five current phishing sites and found that Firefox and Internet Explorer blocked more rogue sites than did Symantec; in general, Symantec missed sites for foreign banks.
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Photo by: Symantec
The ID Safe is feature brought over from Norton Confidential (leaving us to wonder if this product will continue in 2008). Here you can assign a password and then record all your log-in and form data in one secure location. Symantec is working with e-commerce sites and financial institutions to create a new certificate authority allowing Symantec to vouch for the security of any member site, however, this is one of many competing security models in this space. While Symantec has strong support thus far, it's not a standard that is widely recognized. Also, this new authority favors large retail sites, not local Ma and Pa stores.
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Photo by: Symantec
The most significant new feature is network monitoring. Following advances made by Trend Micro and others in past years, Norton Internet Security 2008 now creates one of the three licensed users to be the network administrator, allowing the user to monitor the security of the other two computers and, if necessary, run scans and updates on those other computers.
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Photo by: Symantec
Symantec continues to improve its technical-support experience. Like last year, support options include an automatic diagnostic tool for the program, an online knowledge base and FAQs, free chat, and e-mail. At the time of this writing, we did not yet see telephone support options listed for Norton AntiVirus 2008.
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Photo by: Symantec

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