First Look: Norton 2012

Windows-based security products, Norton AntiVirus and Norton Internet Security get a boost

Looking to bolster its intrusion-prevention capabilities Symantec today announced the beta versions of its 2012 editions of its consumer-focused Windows-based security products, Norton AntiVirus and Norton Internet Security.

Network World Anti-Malware Research Center

In the 2012 editions of the Norton flagship products, Symantec will beef up anti-malware defense. And in a strategic shift, Norton AntiVirus and Internet Security are expected to evolve into more than just security products. The Norton 2012 betas, out today, are expected to be a platform for providing users with real-time information beyond just security into computer-oriented "practical advice" about the status of various software products, for example.

In the 2012 editions, Symantec emphasizes it again is taking its intrusion-detection engine used in its enterprise software, Symantec Endpoint, and integrating it into Norton AntiVirus 2012 and Internet Security 2012, according to Dan Nadir, Norton senior product manager. He says that will add to the software's ability to block traditional threats, phishing sites and fake anti-virus.

The two Symantec consumer anti-malware products — Norton AntiVirus and Norton Internet Security — today make use of reputation-based scanning to defend against malicious code. The 2011 editions support reputation-based scanning for downloads from the browsers Internet Explorer and Firefox, and the 2012 edition of both products adds support for Google's Chrome as well.

There will be a slightly different user interface in the products as well. And some features in the 2011 editions of Norton AntiVirus and Norton Internet Security will be changed slightly, such as the Download Insight 2.0 mechanism that gives the user a way to tell the user if the file or program being downloaded is likely to be good or bad. This is done through the reputation-based analysis system Symnatec that can analyze how code behaves on tens of millions of machines using its security software. The 2012 editions in beta will give the user a distinct warning if programs are crashing on people's systems, Nadir says.

Norton 2012 in beta will also begin to make use of what Norton is calling "metered network settings," Nadir says. This "bandwidth awareness" feature means if the user is in a situation where network bandwidth is more limited -- and especially if the user is paying for it -- there will be the option to also limit the Norton software's interactions in order to preserve bandwidth and hold down costs. The feature would make sure critical LiveUpdates for security purposes were applied, for example, but perhaps wouldn't check for community-shared information as regularly, Nadir says.

The 2012 editions will also begin a certain shift in focus for Norton's flagship products so that they begin providing information of a slightly different kind to the user as well, Nadir points out.

For instance, if a user starts to download an older version of some product by mistake instead of the current version, the Norton security software might actually inform them of this.

The beta versions of Norton AntiVirus and Norton Internet Security are being made available today, and as is the custom, for free until the final versions are released in the fall. Symantec Norton is aiming to improve scan time performance by about 10% and file-copying time by up to 20%.

Click here to download the Norton product betas.

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