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Review: Norton Security -- simpler and still a winner

Preston Gralla | July 21, 2015
Once upon a time, Symantec's brand of Norton security software had one of the most confusing lineups around -- products included Norton 360, Norton 360 Multi-Device, Norton Anti-Virus and Norton Internet Security. Trying to decide which product was the best for you -- not to mention the best priced -- was no picnic.

Finally, the Identity category includes the Identity Safe password manager; Password Generator; Safe Web, which checks websites to make sure they're safe (this is turned on by default); and an anti-phishing feature (also turned on by default).

In its earlier days, Norton security products would bog down your system by using too many system resources, but it's been years since that's been the case. Over time Norton required less of a load, and this newest version seemed even lighter on my system than the last. Symantec claims that it now uses 20 percent less memory when scanning and takes up a smaller malware definition size than the previous version.

Windows 8 users can download the Norton Studio Windows 8 app, which shows you the security status of all of your devices. It displays a snapshot of the most recent Norton activity on each, including the results of scans, any malware found, phishing sites encountered and blocked. But it's not an active tool like the desktop version of Norton -- you can't perform scans or customize how security works. I used it once and then never again.

OS X

If you're looking for security for your Mac, Norton Security is a keeper. If you want the kind of performance tools you'll find in the Windows version, though, you'll be disappointed.

Apart from the lack of performance tools, the Mac version of Norton Security mirrors the Windows application fairly closely. The interface is similar, with large icons representing each of the application's main features: Security, Scans, LiveUpdate, Advanced and Add Devices. Security shows you the results of your most recent scans, Scans lets you tell Norton to perform a scan, LiveUpdate shows you the update status of malware signatures and lets you update them, Advanced lets you customize how the program works, and Add Devices lets you install Norton on other devices.

In fact, in one way the Mac's interface is superior to the Windows one: No need to hunt out the small down arrow on the right side of the screen in order to get down to business.

You get a full complement of security tools, including anti-virus, firewall, phishing-blocking and identity protection. As with the Windows version, you can turn on and off various components. Also, as with the Windows version, each feature includes levels of protection. The firewall, for example, lets you configure different blocking settings for the different networks to which your Mac connects.

The upshot? I found the Mac version simple, straightforward and intuitive, although it would have been nice to see some performance tools added to the mix.

Android

Norton's Android app is superb. It offers a full suite of protection, including anti-malware, anti-theft, backup, protection against Web threats and an App Advisor that checks your installed apps for potential issues. Icons represent each module; tap any icon to use it or see more details about it. I found it a paragon of good design, giving easy access to all its features quickly and easily.

 

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