New scan options, a better firewall, and enhanced ID and anti-phishing protection are key new features of Norton 360 v.2 – the latest version of Symantec’s “all-in-one” security product.
N360, v. 2 was unveiled in Canada last week, at an event in Toronto. Bi-lingual boxed copies of the product are likely to hit retail shelves in a couple of weeks.
While mainly targeted at consumers, certain new features of v.2 are likely to appeal to home-based and small businesses as well.
These include the new network security mapping capability and the broader range of backup options.
Providing holistic and layered security was the stated goal of this product when it was launched last year.
The latest version, says Symantec, continues to deliver on this objective with minimal impact on the processes and performance of your PC.
The company says N360, v 2 performed far better than the industry average – in baseline tests measured the product against competitor offerings.
For instance, N360 used less memory (7–10 MB), as compared to the industry average of 33 MB. Likewise boot time for N360, v2 was 34 seconds, compared with the industry average of 58 seconds, while scan time for the Symantec product was 2.05 minutes, while the industry average was 3.36 minutes.
Many new features in N360 v.2 have been included in response to customer feedback, according to Lynn Hargrove director, consumer solutions, Symantec (Canada) Corp.
For instance, she said version 1 customers sought greater flexibility and control over settings in N360. “We listened to these folk, and in v. 2 you have [greater] ability to tweak those settings, to take the product and customize it to your own needs.”
The Network Security Map – that’s new in N360, v. 2 – exemplifies this, she said.
Devices on the home network are visible on the Map. Users with several PCs on their home network with a Symantec product loaded on them (“it doesn’t have to be 360”) will be able to view the security status of those PCs, Hargrove said.
“You will see things like when that PC was last updated and scanned. And it’s very simple to use.”
The regular version of the product can be used to protect up to three PCs within the home.
But Hargrove noted, in response to a question, that Symantec would be offering multi-user versions that small or home-based businesses could take advantage of.
According to Nini Krishnappa, PR manager at Symantec, “many businesses with 15 or fewer PCs rely on Norton consumer products for security protection.”
Apart from its security capabilities, the new backup options offered by the product may be attractive to mobile professionals.
Version 2 enables files to be backed up to new types of media such as Blu-Ray, HD DVD, iPods and shared drives – in addition to internal drives, CD/DVD drives.
Online backup also continues to be offered to users, with standard version customers getting 2 GB of online storage, and premiere version users, 10 GB.
Many knowledge workers are likely to find this a useful feature. If their computer crashes, for instance, they can rest easy knowing their critical backed-up files are held securely at a Norton server.
In principle online knowledge workers should be able to access and retrieve their files from remote locations. The catch, though, is that you would need to have N360 loaded on the PC you use to retrieve backed up files.
This would limit retrieval options. Canadian mobile professionals, for instance, would not be able to step into a cyber café anywhere in the world and download their backed up documents.
Figuring out which of their thousands of items are backed up backed up, and which are pending backup is easy, according to a product “profile” sheet given to journalists.
Enhanced reporting in N360, v 2 allows users to view the backup status for each file – document, music file, or image – in Windows Explorer, it says.
Adding a file for backup has been simplified and can be done by just right clicking on it.
From a security standpoint, the inclusion of SONAR (Symantec Online Network for Advanced Response) as a free add on in version 2 is significant.
An early warning system announced by Symantec last year, SONAR essentially helps users avoid unpatched software flaws.
In contrast to traditional anti-virus protection techniques, which compare the program’s code to a database of known malware, SONAR looks at the behaviour of programs running on the computer to determine whether they are malicious.
How is this useful?
Because with new threats being developed nearly every day, only comparing the program’s code to known threat signatures may not be adequate. This may not protect against zero-day attacks based on unknown flaws or flaws that haven’t been patched yet by the vendor.
According to a Symantec executive, SONAR also comes in handy when a user, for whatever reason, turns of his or her protection – and for that reason the system gets infected.
“Even though the Trojan itself is not a running process…SONAR inspects all of the associated files that the Trojan downloads,” says Laura García-Manrique, senior director of product management, consumer products and solutions, Symantec Corp. in a blog on the Symantec Web site.
This enables it to spot malicious software. “SONAR detections are also reported back to Symantec.”
Identify Protection is another key feature of N360 v. 2.
For instance, this latest version features Norton Identity Safe that allows customers to control how their personal information is shared with Web sites.
The Safe also speeds up common tasks such as filling out information on Web forms – as data in the “ID Safe” is automatically retrieved to populate fields.
Version 2 also includes anti-phishing technology that prevents users from providing personal information to suspected phishing sites – and makes these anti-phishing capabilities available for the Firefox browser– in addition to Internet Explorer.
Krishnappa says enhanced Web site authentication, and anti-phishing technologies offered by N360 are significant given that an overwhelming number of threats today are Web based (reportedly one of the key findings of Symantec’s Internet Security Threat report that’s due to be released in April).
The Canadian estimated retail price (ERP) of the standard version – 2GB of online storage – is $89.99, while the premier version with 10GB of online storage will cost $109.99.
Depending how the dollar is Canadian retail stores may sell it for less.
Which, of course, would be a good thing given that the Canadian retail price – of both the standard and premier versions – is $10 higher than the U.S.