The Norton Internet Security 2007 interface is new, the code is leaner, and the retail price much lower, and the program provided many surprises under the hood. Small-business owners and advanced users who scour the edges of the Internet will appreciate the addition of advanced malicious-behavior monitoring and new rootkit-detection features found nowhere else. But average users who never stray far from mainstream Web sites will find most of the new features within Norton Internet Security 2007 unnecessary--it's like purchasing a Hummer to drive it only to church on Sundays. And despite several code tweaks (something like 80 percent of the code was rewritten), Norton Internet Security 2007 still feels heavy and clumsy. There's a definite advantage to the end user when Symantec filters down some of its enterprise technology to the desktop, yes, but Norton Internet Security 2007 fails to strike the right balance between providing these tools and maintaining ease of use. Unfortunately, Norton Internet Security 2007 doesn't play well with other security applications you might already have installed, including third-party antispyware apps. Therefore, we recommend ZoneAlarm Internet Security 7, a much lighter, more user-friendly, best-of-breed Internet security package over Norton Internet Security 2007.
Setup and interface
Norton Internet Security 2007 is available in a boxed set and online. Either way, Symantec has lowered the price: Norton Internet Security 20007 is now priced at $69.99 for a three-user license. Note, however, that Symantec no longer offers a single-user license for Norton Internet Security 2007. Competitors McAfee and ZoneAlarm also charge $69.95 for their three-user licenses, but they still offer $49.95 single-user licenses, as well. Our installation from disc proved uneventful. Upon its completion, we needed to set up our online Norton account. Ostensibly, the account is useful when downloading optional features available from Symantec, but it's also a clever way of getting you to register your copy of the software.
Once installed, Norton Internet Security 2007 occupies 350MB of hard drive space--more than twice the file space required by either ZoneAlarm or McAfee, but given all of the included features, it's not as bad as it could have been. Like McAfee, Norton runs some nonessential services in the background, such as Norton LiveUpdate, which can reduce system performance on older machines. Unlike McAfee, the fully installed Norton runs only two active scanning processes.
The Norton Internet Security 2007 interface is simpler and much cleaner than last year's. For example, instead of having different desktop windows open for the Norton Protection Center and Norton Internet Security, these are now combined into one window with tabs. Unlike last year's version, the Norton Protection Center is more of an information gateway, linking to helpful how-to articles first before mentioning additional products or services available from Symantec. We approve of this change.
When you first launch Norton Internet Security 2007, a new sidebar window displays your system's current security status using the now-common green-yellow-red security rainbow. Norton provides a Fix Now button, but unlike McAfee's own Fix button, Symantec takes you to another screen where you must then choose what to fix and so on. For people who want to tweak, that's fine; but most home users will simply want whatever's wrong fixed and may find the extra step annoying.
Should you decide to uninstall Norton Internet Security 2007, you'll note that there is no uninstall icon listed in All Programs; instead, you'll have to use Microsoft's "Add and remove programs" from the Windows control panel. After we rebooted, we found a handful of registry entries remaining but no files or folders. While this wasn't nearly the mess left behind by Trend Micro, it was not as clean a removal process as ZoneAlarm's.
Norton Internet Security 2007 adds some new protection, but the bulk of the changes provide deeper protection with its existing technology and most of those enhancements come from just one product: Norton AntiVirus 2007. A quick check of the UI reveals that several features--Norton AntiSpam, Norton Parental Control, Confidential Information Blocking, and Ad Blocking--are missing from the installed product. Following a growing trend by security vendors who realize the "one size fits all" model no longer works for Internet security, these are now offered a la carte, available for download from Symantec as needed.
New in the Norton Internet Security suite is Symantec's own antiphishing protection tool. Using an add-on toolbar to Internet Explorer, Norton Internet Security alerted us to suspected phishing sites, or those known to Symantec to be otherwise suspicious or fraudulent. You may continue on to the suspected site if you wish, and you can also report additional sites. Support for Firefox was promised but was still missing in the final release product we saw. Unlike McAfee, which makes its SiteAdvisor antiphishing tool available as a stand-alone toolbar for both Firefox and IE, Symantec's antiphishing tool is available only within the suite.
In testing, Symantec's antiphishing tool detected four out of five active fraudulent sites, results on a par with those of the free toolbar download from Netcraft and significantly better than those of the built-in detection within Microsoft's new Internet Explorer 7 for XP SP2 and Firefox 2.
Also new is a behavior-monitoring and blocking feature acquired from a company called Whole Security. Called SONAR (formerly Behavioral Malware Detection (BMD)), the Symantec version of this feature will become active in mid-January on thousands of Norton Internet Security-and Norton AntiVirus-protected systems worldwide. The company claims that through monitoring alone it has detected thousands of new malicious code scripts and incurred very few false positives.