Symantec to slim Norton line to single security suite

Symantec's widely used and much maligned line of Norton security suites will get a major overhaul in September.

Seth Rosenblatt Former Senior Writer / News
Senior writer Seth Rosenblatt covered Google and security for CNET News, with occasional forays into tech and pop culture. Formerly a CNET Reviews senior editor for software, he has written about nearly every category of software and app available.
Seth Rosenblatt
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Symantec will be rebranding and streamlining its complicated Norton line of security suites into one. Symantec

For the first time since 1991, there won't be a new version of Norton Antivirus on the shelves this fall. Symantec will rebrand its consumer security suites next month by eliminating several similarly named products.

The new Norton Security, which debuts September 23, will replace Norton AntiVirus, Norton Internet Security, Norton 360, Norton 360 Multi-Device, and Norton 360 Premier Edition.

"We're headed towards security as a service," Gerry Egan, the senior director of product management for Norton at Symantec, told CNET. He said that Symantec is pushing Norton to more closely emulate the Netflix subscription service for security, with account-based logins and security as a service. Egan said that around 50 million people currently pay for Norton security, separate from Symantec's enterprise business.

Under the new Norton Security interface, the security suite will combine the features of Norton Antivirus and Norton Internet Security. In addition to antivirus and anti-malware protection, it will include browser security without the hassle of an add-on, botnet detection and blocking, and what Egan said was a "smarter" reliance on cloud-based detection.

And in a bid to convince consumers that the new Norton is not like the notorious Nortons of the past, which earned a reputation for sacrificing performance in exchange for security, Egan said that the new Norton will offer a money-back guarantee.

"We will be offering virus-free guarantee," he said. "If at the end of the day we run into something we can't deal with, we'll give you your money back."

Egan would not reveal how much the new Norton Security will cost, although he did compare it to the current cost of the Norton Internet Security suite. That's around $80 to protect three computers, but it's not uncommon to find significant discounts on the Web.

As part of the new Norton's business strategy, Symantec will let you register up to five devices to use with Norton, including Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android. A more expensive version of Norton Security will ship with a cloud storage service based on SwapDrive, a startup that Symantec purchased in 2008 and has since built into Norton 360. Egan said that Norton Security with Backup will cover up to 10 devices and will be comparable in price to Norton 360, around $100 before discounts.

The consumer security suite market is incredibly competitive, with more than a dozen paid and free security suites vying for attention. Egan explained the change as being necessary to attracting new users to Norton.

"You might bounce throughout the day from a Mac to a mobile to a Windows machine," he said. Instead of trying to figure out which Norton product they're using, "we want to say to people that you sign up to Norton, it's as simple as that."