Symantec readies new Norton antimalware software, offers free PC cleaners

Reputation-based security scans extended to Chrome, Opera, Safari browsers

Symantec Monday unveiled the Norton 2011 editions of its antimalware software to wipe out infections on Windows-based machines.

Symantec Monday unveiled the Norton 2011 editions of its antimalware software to wipe out infections on Windows-based machines.

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Symantec's Norton 2011 AntiVirus and Norton Internet Security products, expected to ship in September, are available in beta form for free download to Windows-based machines. Both products have new protections, including reputation-based security scans for all Web browsers, instant-messaging clients, e-mail and file managers to warn and defend against malicious code, according to Norton's director of product management, Dan Nadir.

"Last year we had reputation-based security for downloads from Internet Explorer and Firefox, and now we're incorporating all the browsers, including Chrome, Opera, Safari," and others, Nadir says. Reputation-based scanning involves a real-time evaluation based on Symantec's knowledge base to determine the risk and danger posed by downloaded data, with the idea of flagging dangers.

Norton Internet Security includes some capabilities that Norton AntiVirus doesn't have, such as antiphishing detection and blocking. Both products include the System Insight feature for charting PC performance, with an updated user interface that can provide proactive alerts about what's hogging system resources. Symantec remains the worldwide market leader in desktop antimalware.

In an effort to reach out to the estimated 15% of computer users worldwide believed to never buy antimalware protection  because they think they don't need it, but do get hit with malicious software, Symantec is providing the free Norton Bootable Recovery tool that can disinfect PCs even when malicious code is preventing normal boot-up.

"We're calling this our 'rescue me' technology," Nadir says about the free clean-up tools. "Some people are already infected by malicious software that won't even allow you to install security software."

The bootable recovery tool, downloaded from the Symantec site, works through use on a CD or installed on a USB token.When the prepared CD or USB is inserted into the PC, the bootable-recovery tool provides the equivalent of a "little version of Windows that loads all the security software and has access to the hard drive," Nadir says. It will clean up a severely infected PC, especially in emergency situations where boot-up doesn't appear possible.

The second free tool, the Norton Power Eraser, is for cleaning out fake antivirus software -- sometimes called rogue A/V or "scareware" because people are tricked by fear tactics into downloading it. The Norton Power Eraser can also remove rootkits and keyloggers.

In addition, Norton is making available for free a Facebook scanner tool called Norton Safe Web for Facebook, which according to Nadir, "will scan any link that's part of your account to provide a safe-link rating," scanning the user's Facebook "wall" to ensure the data can be trusted. The ratings work by displaying a green, red or yellow icon as a safety guideline.

These three tools are expected to remain free for the long term. While pricing for the 2011 Norton AntiVirus and Internet Security software has not yet been announced, at this point no significant change is expected from the 2010 editions, which are priced at about $40 for Norton AntiVirus and roughly $70 for Norton Internet Security.

Learn more about this topic

Symantec Norton main landing page

Norton Internet Security beta overview

Norton Power Eraser and Norton Bootable Recovery Tool overview page

The Norton Safe Web for Facebook scanning tool

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