Norton Review

by Christo Petrov

What name pops out in your head when you think of a photocopy machine? How about an operating system? An antivirus?

If you answered “Xerox” to the first question, and “Windows” to the second, chances are you thought of “Norton” for the third one.

Norton is one of the old-timers in the antivirus industry. The brand has stuck in the heads of millions of users as THE antivirus product.

But does it live up to its reputation?

In today’s Norton review, we’ll put this veteran’s skills to the test. To do that, we’ll examine 360 Deluxe: the brand’s super pack in the home products segment.

Price

Norton 360 Deluxe will cost you $59.99 for the first year, and you can install it on up to 5 devices regardless of their operating systems. After that, your subscription will switch to the then-current annual fee, which is $99.99 right now.

You can also go for a monthly subscription at $9.99.

Deluxe is not the most expensive package in Norton’s product line, though. If you want something fancier, you can always check out Norton 360 with LifeLock Select.

As the name suggests, the latter subscription includes the identity theft protection system LifeLock, which Symantec (the owner of Norton) acquired in 2017. LifeLock protects you from online fraud and promises to compensate you with up to $1 million if your identity gets stolen.

Free version

Getting new customers is a tricky game, so most antivirus vendors offer either free trial versions of their paid products or completely free tools.

Those tricks don’t work for Symantec, apparently. All Norton products come only as premium. No trial version, no free product.

You do get a 60-day money-back guarantee though. Under Norton’s return and cancellation policies, ” the purchase of an annual subscription is eligible for a refund if your request is made within 60-days of the date of purchase.”

System requirements

To run the Norton security suite, you’ll need a PC with Windows 7 with Service Pack 1 or higher, a 1 GHz processor, at least 1 GB RAM, and about 300 MB of free disk space. In other words – a PC that’s less than 10 years old.

Installation

Norton needs a couple of minutes to install on your device. While installing, there is a slideshow explaining some of the most popular online threats out there, like ransomware, phishing, malicious apps, etc.

The installer asks for your email, but you can choose to provide it later. That’s pretty much all you need to do before you can run the program.

When I was installing my copy of the Norton security suite, Windows Defender blocked Norton Secure VPN. I solved this easily by allowing access to the application.

User Interface

Norton is chock-full with tools and features, but is it easy to find and use them?

Sometimes a software’s interface is so chaotic that users can’t get their bearings in the menus. That’s not the case with Norton.

The suite’s interface is easy to work with. The main screen looks simple at first. It takes a few clicks to realize this plainness is deceptive.

The Device Security tab is Norton Deluxe’s vault of protective features. It stores most of the tools you’ll need to keep your device clean: from scanning to antiphishing to backing up your data. This is the tab you click when you want to configure safe browsing, or set up a password manager.

The other tabs are self-explanatory. Those are Secure VPN (turns on Norton’s VPN service), Cloud Backup (configures the backup tool), Password Manager (sets up Norton Password Manager, a browser extension to keep your passwords safe), and Parental Controls.

Features

As you can see, the product has almost every feature a user can ask for. But is Norton a good antivirus? Let’s see some of the more interesting tools, and how they protect you.

Smart Firewall

Norton’s firewall inspects all connections to and from your device, while looking for suspicious activity and attack attempts. It blocks ports to prevent scanning and warns you when someone is trying to connect to your device.

What makes Norton’s firewall “smart” is its program rules system. If a malicious program on your device is trying to connect to another computer on the internet, the firewall will block it.

But how does the firewall know malicious from benign?

It uses its own database of known “good” and “bad” software. It automatically makes rules for every program you run on your device. That way you don’t need to approve all outgoing connections. But if you want, you can still add program rules.

Cloud Storage

With Norton, security is not just about keeping your device clean. Norton 360 Deluxe includes 50 GB of cloud storage for backing up your important data.

You can use it to make copies of your data and store them outside your device. This pays off if your hard disk suddenly fails, or your device gets one of those nasty ransomware infections. Should any of this happen, you know you got a copy of your files safe in the cloud.

50GB may not sound like much, but it’s just enough to store your documents and pictures, which are usually the main target of ransomware. If for some reason you need more, you can always spend a few bucks to up your storage.

The files you backup in the cloud will be encrypted, and no one, not even Symantec’s employees, will be able to view their contents.

Which leads me to one of the suite’s disadvantages: Norton Deluxe has no encryption feature. You can only encrypt files if you back them up, or if you install additional encryption software.

Dark Web Monitoring

The dark web is full of stolen data, and anyone with some extra money can buy it. It’s a relatively safe bet that some of that data is yours.

It may be your address, your driver’s license number, or the password for your email account. Either way, it’s out there.

Dark Web Monitor is a premium tool (one you won’t find in Norton Antivirus Plus). It skims through illegal online markets and checks if your personal data pops out anywhere. When a match is found, it warns you about it, so you can take measures.

Dark Web Monitor is a great tool, and it is featured in all Norton products for home users but Antivirus Plus. While it won’t protect you from identity theft, it can minimize the consequences.

In today’s world, a single password reuse can cause you a lot of trouble. Once one of your accounts is hacked, the stolen password can be used to access your other accounts. With Dark Web Monitor you can be one step ahead of cybercriminals, and react while you still have time.

VPN

Using a VPN is crucial when you connect to a public Wi-Fi network. Those networks are unsafe by default, and using one while shopping online, banking, or sending sensitive data, is a big no-no.

Sometimes you just have to use a public Wi-Fi though, and that’s when Norton Secure VPN comes into play. This Norton protection service encrypts all your traffic, making it impossible for network snoopers to see what websites you open, or what passwords you type in.

Secure VPN will also guard your privacy. It hides your IP address, thus masking your actual location. You can browse the web anonymously, and avoid trackers that gather information about you.

While a lot of users tend to neglect tracking by big internet companies, it is becoming a growing issue worldwide. It is the reason why more people than ever want to be under the radar and stay anonymous online.

Scanning for viruses

Norton offers a variety of scans depending on how deep you want to dig through your system.

With the Norton computer security suite, you can perform a quick scan, a more thorough full scan, or you can scan specific folders and drives.

A full scan lasted 15 minutes on my test laptop. This is much faster than similar products like Kaspersky Total Protection.

A quick scan took just a minute, but it only checked a tiny portion of the files on my device.

The Norton antivirus solution has some additional tools to help you better understand what’s happening with your machine.

The Norton Power Eraser will look for unwanted applications and advise you on whether you should remove them from your device.

You can also run a diagnostic report. It shows you potential problems on your device like startup programs that may be slowing it down; or an outdated operating system that poses a risk to your security.

Real-Time Protection

Now that we’ve gone through Norton’s scanning abilities, let’s see how well it handles real-time threats.

Phishing Protection 7/10

The antiphishing feature of Norton 360 relies on the Norton Safe Web browser extension. You can easily install it from the Device Security tab. Make sure you do so, otherwise your phishing protection will not be working, and you’ll have to rely solely on Windows Defender.

As for Norton Safe Web, it didn’t do such a great job detecting phishing pages. I fed him the latest phishing samples I could find, and it had a few misses. One of them was an easy-to-spot fake page of a blockchain trading platform, and another was a poorly made Yahoo Mail phishing page.

Parental Control Protection  9/10

Norton’s parental controls require that you download the Norton Family App, register a profile for your child, and choose the level of content restriction.

For the purpose of this Norton review, I set the restriction filter to high, which is suitable for children between 8 and 11 years old.

The filter did a good job blocking inappropriate content. It successfully recognized gun websites, pornographic content, violent content, gory images, and video.

The only miss was a website for leaking video content, some of which is disturbing, to say the least (scenes of death, violence, accidents, etc.)

Downloading the EICAR Test File

How good is Norton at detecting malicious code? The EICAR test file cannot give a definitive answer, but it can show whether the antivirus is correctly configured to recognize threats.

The file is a harmless virus, and the antivirus program should react as if it detected one.

Norton did so when I tried to download the file on my computer. It warned me I was about to open a dangerous file, and it blocked the download.

I was able to download the archived version of the file, but immediately got a pop-up warning when I tried to unarchive it.

So, success in both tests.

Independent Lab Tests

Norton has some impressive results from AV-Test, the independent research lab. The German institute assigned a flawless 6.0 / 6.0 score to Norton in its April report.

Norton by Symantec was perfect in detecting zero-day malware, as well as the prevalent malware attacks.

It detected both types of threats with a 100% success rate. That is a pretty impressive result, and – in the case of zero-day threats – is higher than the industry average.

Customer Support

Norton’s customer support is easy to reach. There is a 24/7 chat and phone support. It is convenient because you can contact an agent and fix your problem right away, regardless of the time zone you’re in.

I tested live chat with a few queries and was pleased with the assistance I got. An agent contacted me reasonably fast and was knowledgeable about everything I asked.

For one of my queries, he asked to gain remote access to my laptop to fix the problem I had. I had to wait some time until the remote connection took place, but I consider this a technical difficulty and not sloppy customer care.

If you buy Norton products, you get the benefit of a huge pile of information resources. It includes a knowledge base, a community forum, FAQ pages for the different products, and a video tutorials page.

It makes troubleshooting a lot easier even if you can’t get in touch with a customer support agent.

Conclusion

Norton has an arsenal of tools that justifies the price you pay. It is a complete solution for protecting your digital world – yours and your family’s.

Every once in a while you’ll hear opinions about how Norton is lying on its laurels. But the fact is, this antivirus vendor still has a lot to offer.

I hope this Norton review will give you enough information to make a choice about which cybersecurity solution you should use.

Don’t forget to take a look at other TechJury antivirus reviews.

Enjoy your read and stay safe!

Pros:

A fully-equipped security suite

Can be used on different platforms

Cons:

Only encrypts files in the cloud, but not on the hard disk

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