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Symantec to keep watch over Web transactions

Norton Confidential, due later this year, promises to protect consumers as they conduct business on the Internet.

Joris Evers Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Joris Evers covers security.
Joris Evers
3 min read
SAN MATEO, Calif.--Symantec is readying a new security product designed to protect consumers as they do business online.

The software, called Norton Confidential, will offer a shield against phishing Web sites and malicious software that try to steal sensitive data. Additionally, it will identify trustworthy Web sites and help users manage login names, passwords, credit card numbers and other information used in online transactions, a Symantec executive said Wednesday.

"Norton Confidential is our entry into a new category that we're describing as the 'transaction security' category," Enrique Salem, the group president of consumer products at Symantec, said in a presentation at the company's meeting for financial analysts here. "This is all about protecting interaction."

Symantec has been working on Norton Confidential under the code name "Symantec Voyager." The product includes technology from antiphishing specialist WholeSecurity, which Symantec acquired in September last year. The Cupertino, Calif., software maker plans to start marketing the product in the coming weeks, company representatives said.

Using WholeSecurity technology, Norton Confidential will identify risky Web sites on the fly as people surf, Salem said. Another feature will authenticate Web sites, in part by taking advantage of upcoming high-assurance security certificates for Web sites, he said.

In addition, the forthcoming security offering will protect against password-stealing Trojan horses and other keystroke-logging "crimeware," Salem said. "That is the latest type of threat. Somebody can watch for the moment where you are inputting your confidential information, capture it and then use it," he said.

The final main aspect of Norton Confidential is management of confidential data. The software promises to warn the user when an online transaction is suspicious or when information such as a password or credit card number is being passed to a suspicious Web site.

Rival defenses
While Symantec may pitch Norton Confidential as a product in a category of its own, other companies sell similar protections. Microsoft, for example, offers phishing protection as part of its Web browser toolbar and has promised enhanced security in the upcoming Internet Explorer 7 browser. It is also working on a tool called InfoCard to secure transactions, and it offers Windows Defender at no cost to fight spyware and related pests.

"Norton Confidential is the only product on the market that will combine crimeware protection and phishing protection in one product," Salem said. The product is slated to be available this fall. Pricing is not yet available, but Symantec hopes its existing customers will buy it, Salem said.

As for other products, Symantec plans to release updated, "2007" versions of Norton Internet Security and Norton AntiVirus around September, Salem said. It is also working on a next-generation security product dubbed Norton 360, due out by the end of March next year. Norton 360 is expected to include some features from Norton Confidential.

With all of its new products and updates, Symantec is looking to rival newcomer Microsoft, which on Wednesday started shipping its Windows Live OneCare product.

"We have got to run very hard and very fast, because we all know that Microsoft will continue to improve their products," Salem said. "But we will stay ahead."