Symantec Norton Internet Security 2010 (beta)

Symantec's Norton Internet Security 2010 is more notable for what's under the hood, boasting reputation-based protection as an extra layer.

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Symantec Norton Internet Security 2010

Pros

  • New reputation-based security technology from Quorum, interface is simple and straightforward, lets you dig into security details, doesn't take up too much RAM or system resources

Cons

  • In our beta tests we had hiccups with our installation, had to find virus updates before it would perform a scan

Bottom Line

If you're a user of Norton Internet Security 2009, it's certainly worth going to the newer version, because Quorum will most likely make you safer, and the new features are worthy additions. Not only that, but the upgrade is free. As for whether to switch to NIS 2010 from a different internet protection program, that's a tougher call. The interface is certainly simple and straightforward, and also lets you dig into security details. There's no way to evaluate yet whether the new tools will be more effective than the old ones; only widespread use and exposure to many malware threats will tell.

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Norton Internet Security 2010: What's new?

Quorum's reputation-based strategy represents the biggest change compared to previous versions, but there have been other changes as well. The suite's anti-spam component features a new engine from enterprise antispam vendor Brightmail. Symantec claims that it is 20 percent more effective than the suite's previous antispam protection.

Also included is Norton Safe Web; this service is new to Norton Internet Security but was previously introduced in Norton 360 version 3.0. It works with Google, Yahoo and Bing, and shows whether any sites that turn up in search results are potentially dangerous or untrustworthy.

In addition, Norton Internet Security 2010 users get a free subscription to OnlineFamily.Norton, a web-based service that lets parents control what their kids do on the web.

However, if you're planning to try out Symantec Norton Internet Security 2010, you'd better not do it on your main PC — this is not only a beta release, but a temporary one as well. Currently, the installed beta says that it is good for only 14 days.

The NIS 2010 beta is available for free from www.norton.com/nis2010beta, Norton AntiVirus 2010 beta: www.norton.com/nav2010beta. (Only those people who consider themselves sufficiently technically savvy to deal with software glitches and flaws should test beta software, particularly security software.)

Norton Internet Security 2010: From signatures to reputation

Symantec's comprehensive Norton Internet Security 2010 suite offers protection against viruses, Trojans, rootkits, spyware and malware of all kinds, as did the previous versions. Like those versions, it includes a firewall, intrusion protection, email protection and web protection; for example, it integrates with your browser and search engine to warn you away from visiting sites that might be malicious.

Symantec says that Symantec Norton Internet Security 2010 marks a major shift away from signature-based detection to what it calls "reputation-based security technologies", which it claims offer more complete and up-to-date protection.

According to Symantec, traditional signature-based solutions simply can't keep up with the massive amounts of new malware released every year. The company says that Symantec researchers see more than 200 million attacks on PCs every month, many of them threats not seen before that may slip by signature-based security software. Because of that, the company claims, signature-based solutions by themselves can no longer adequately protect PCs.

Its new reputation-based security strategy relies heavily on Symantec's global product reach, in which millions of people who use Norton products and opt in to the Norton Community send information anonymously about the applications running on their system. Using this data, Symantec calculates a "reputation score" for applications, and uses that reputation score, in addition to traditional malware signatures, as the engine to keep PCs safe in Norton Internet Security Suite 2010.

Norton Internet Security 2010 isn't the first time a reputation-based technology has been used by anti-malware vendors. Cloudmark Desktop, for example, has been using it for years to protect against spam. But Cloudmark is a far smaller company than Symantec, with a smaller user base, and not as comprehensive a security suite. In addition, protecting against spam is far simpler than protecting against the myriad constantly evolving threats on the web.

These days it takes a large-scale lab to judge whether reputation-based security is superior to signature-based security, so the final answer will have to wait until the fall of 2009 when Symantec Norton Internet Security 2010 is expected to be released in final form. At that point, various labs will weigh in with their results.

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