Love them or detest them, everyone has an opinion about Symantec’s Norton safety merchandise. Hoping to get extra love, Symantec made large adjustments each seen and invisible in Norton AntiVirus 2012 ($39.99 direct). The brand new look positively appears friendlier, with no sacrifice of highly effective antivirus safety.

New Interface
After interviewing customers and observing them navigate the product, Symantec’s interface designers concluded that the on-demand scanning and checking for updates are what customers do most. The brand new consumer interface places these two options entrance and heart, with nearly every part else hidden till you click on the Superior hyperlink.

The superior view presents all of the standing data that was current within the 2011 version, together with the easy on/off controls for particular options. That is additionally the place you will discover the symptoms for CPU utilization by the system and by Norton. If you happen to desire this degree of element you may merely pin the superior view in place, making it the default.

Norton’s settings window has additionally undergone a severe change. The 2011 version successfully put each single setting in a single scrolling checklist, with the choice to develop and collapse sections. In 2012 the settings are organized in a tabbed window, with main classes Pc, Community, and Common throughout the highest. For every of these, tabs alongside the left choose sub-categories. It is nearer to the interface of Norton 360 Model 5.0 ($79.99 direct for 3 licenses, 4.5 stars), although not fairly the identical. I positively discover it simpler to make use of.

A number of Malware Cleaners
The architects of Norton AntiVirus perceive clearly that the product should do its job even in opposed situations. If malware already current on the pc makes an attempt to intervene with set up, the installer launches a preinstall scan to root out that drawback. That occurred on considered one of my check methods. After a reboot, the set up completed with out additional ado. As with earlier variations, when you click on “Agree & Install” you may simply sit again till the set up finishes.

A harder drawback after set up triggered the Autofix characteristic, which recognized the error however could not mechanically repair it. A full scan after rebooting into Secure Mode solved that drawback. The continuing battle between Norton’s real-time safety and lively malware trigger a pair check methods to lavatory down. Right here once more scanning in Secure Mode solved the issue. Observe that this occurred on digital machine check methods with severely restricted assets. I did not observe any slowdown on my bodily check pc.

5 of the check methods reported threats that weren’t eliminated by the scan, with a hyperlink to “Get Help”. The assistance web page really useful downloading Norton Energy Eraser (Free, 4 stars), which accomplished cleanup for 4 of them.

That left one drawback system. The assistance web page subsequent really useful utilizing the Norton Bootable Restoration Device, so I downloaded and ran the wizard to create a bootable cleanup CD. I might have additionally chosen to create a bootable USB drive, or simply save an .ISO picture to burn later. NBRT managed to take away the resistant menace that was inflicting hassle.

You do want to concentrate if Norton AntiVirus says you must get assist. In truth, if a full scan finds something severe it is in all probability not a nasty thought to proactively run Norton Energy Eraser even when it does not ask.

Popularity Scan
A full scan on my customary clear check system took 36 minutes, nearly half-again the present common. Nonetheless, after Norton had an opportunity to run its fame scan and whitelist recognized good recordsdata a second full scan completed in simply three minutes

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The fame scan checks all recordsdata in your system in opposition to Symantec’s enormous database of recognized applications. For every file you may view fame parts together with prevalence amongst Norton customers, belief degree, and useful resource utilization. Norton’s SONAR behavior-based detection system mechanically applies harder guidelines to processes with a low belief degree.

New within the 2012 version is a reliability ranking. Primarily based on details about program crashes gathered from thousands and thousands of Norton customers, it charges every program as Dependable, Secure, Barely Unstable, or Unstable. The Obtain Perception and File Perception options now embody reliability data as nicely.

Throughout the highest of the fame scan report a number of tabs allow you to examine your personal system with the group common in three areas: prevalence, reliability, and belief degree. A fourth tab stories on the scale of the recognized good recordsdata and recognized unhealthy recordsdata database.

Efficient Malware Cleanup
Scanning all of the check methods for malware took some time, particularly for people who wanted a number of scans. Nonetheless, the outcomes have been positively definitely worth the wait. Norton’s detection fee wasn’t the very best amongst merchandise examined with the present malware assortment; that honor goes to AVG Anti-Virus Free 2012 (Free, 4 stars), with 91 %. However Norton parlayed its 85 % detection fee into an general rating of seven.1, nicely above AVG’s earlier excessive of 6.5 factors.

Like a number of different merchandise, Norton detected one hundred pc of the samples that use rootkit expertise. It is rating of 8.9 factors for rootkit removing completely blows away the earlier excessive rating of 6.7 factors, held collectively by ZoneAlarm Antivirus + Firewall 2012 ($59.95 direct for 3 licenses, 3 stars) and AVG.

Norton additionally detected one hundred pc of the scareware samples, and fully eliminated all of them. With an ideal 10 factors, Norton ties with Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware Free 1.51 (Free, 4 stars) for finest scareware removing rating.

The chart that follows clearly reveals Norton is forward of the pack. For an evidence of simply how I derive these scores see How We Check Malware Elimination.

Norton AntiVirus 2012 malware removing chart

SONAR for Security
When tried to obtain my present malware assortment once more, Norton blocked most of them. Not all the URLs have been nonetheless legitimate, in fact. Norton’s browser safety blocked a 3rd of these on the URL degree, indicating it had executed so by way of a small slide-in notification that vanished mechanically. Obtain safety additionally took motion, blocking half the samples.

Nearly 60 % of my already-downloaded samples have been worn out by Norton’s real-time safety as quickly as I opened the folder containing them. I launched every pattern that wasn’t eradicated on sight and famous how Norton dealt with it.

This version’s beefed-up SONAR safety caught nearly all the remaining samples in some unspecified time in the future throughout their try to put in. As a result of SONAR screens course of conduct it was capable of roll again all adjustments even when it detected the malware partway by way of set up. In each case detected by SONAR, not a single malware hint reached the check system.

Norton detected 91 % of the threats, the identical as G Information AntiVirus 2012 ($29.95 direct, 3.5 stars). Others have detected extra. TrustPort Antivirus 2012 ($39.95 direct, 3.5 stars) detected 97 %. AVG, Outpost Antivirus Professional 7.5 ($29.95 direct for 3 licenses, 3 stars), and Pattern Micro Titanium Antivirus+ 2012 ($39.95 direct, 2.5 stars) detected 94 %. However Norton’s very although blocking of detected threats yielded a blocking rating of 8.9 factors, crushed solely by G Information’s 9.0.

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Norton completely dominated within the breakout figures for particular malware sorts. It detected one hundred pc of rootkits and scareware samples and blocked them completely, scoring an ideal 10 in each checks. Panda Antivirus Professional 2012 ($49.99/yr direct for 3 licenses, 3 stars) and G Information additionally scored 10 factors for blocking scareware, however no different product has scored an ideal 10 for blocking the rootkits in my present malware assortment. For an in depth rationalization of how I derive malware blocking scores, see How We Check Malware Blocking.

Norton AntiVirus 2012 malware blocking chart

Weighted False-Constructive Testing
For one more view of SONAR’s behavior-based detection I tried to put in twenty PCMag utilities. I used to be a bit stunned that SONAR recognized greater than half of them as dangerous and blocked set up. It additionally worn out the software I exploit to check phishing safety.

At first I believed this was an enormous black mark in opposition to Norton, however then I considered it once more. My objective on this check is to see whether or not a behavior-based detection characteristic goes overboard and blocks legitimate applications. I intentionally selected obscure instruments, to restrict the chance that they is likely to be whitelisted. And I selected instruments that carry out suspicious actions like putting in a world Home windows hook or launching the browser beneath distant management.

Norton’s fame expertise accurately identifies these file as very not often seen, which triggers the next degree of scrutiny by SONAR. They are not digitally signed, and plenty of lack file model data. In a real-world state of affairs SONAR would have detected that the recordsdata have been downloaded from a trusted Site. The truth that they got here from one other pc on the community is one other strike in opposition to them, to SONAR.

Patrick Gardner, the senior director of growth for Symantec’s STAR (Safety Expertise and Response), recommends that “false positive” checks be weighted primarily based on the prevalence and significance of the file mistakenly recognized as dangerous. Killing a necessary Home windows course of, as McAfee did in 2010, is extraordinarily severe. Damaging a Microsoft Workplace set up can also be severe. Since Norton’s Perception database whitelists all trusted applications which can be fairly prevalenct, Gardner contends SONAR merely cannot block a major legitimate program.

Popularity-based detection is a robust software in opposition to polymorphic and zero-day malware, and I’ve to grudgingly agree that its advantages outweigh the potential of erroneously whacking an obscure program that solely exists on a number of computer systems.

Regular customers will in all probability by no means see SONAR block a sound file. If it does occur, you may merely inform SONAR to revive the file and go away it alone sooner or later. That is what I did with my antiphishing check software, a program that runs on no different pc on the planet.

Unbiased Labs Agree
The entire impartial testing labs that I comply with embody Norton merchandise of their checks, and Norton will get good rankings general. West Coast Labs and ICSA Labs certify Norton expertise for each virus detection and virus removing. Norton took the VB100 conscious in 9 of the final ten checks by Virus Bulletin.

Norton rated ADVANCED in AV-Comparatives’s on-demand virus detection check. Apparently, within the retrospective check (which simulates detection of zero-day threats by forcing the antivirus to make use of outdated signatures) Norton attained the highest ranking of ADVANCED+. In a dynamic whole-product safety check carried out by AV-Comparatives over a number of months Norton rated ADVANCED.

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A just-released preliminary check of the 2012 version by AV-Check provides this product some severe reward. In each check it scored above common, and it blocked one hundred pc of 0-day assaults. AV-Check will incorporate the 2012 version in ongoing checks beginning this month.

For an evidence of the varied check sorts and the information within the following chart, see How We Interpret Antivirus Lab Assessments.

Norton AntiVirus 2012 lab checks chart

Intrusion Prevention
The standalone antivirus does not embody the complete firewall part discovered within the full Norton suite, but it surely presents highly effective safety in opposition to Internet-based exploits. I attacked the check system with over 30 exploits generated by the Core Affect penetration software. These included exploits aimed toward Web Explorer, Firefox, Adobe, Microsoft Workplace, and Home windows on the whole.

Norton detected and recognized each assault, reporting its motion in a small slide-out notification window and typically a second notification with a extra detailed identification. Clicking the hyperlink to “View Details” brings up the safety historical past entry describing the tried intrusion, with a wealth of element in regards to the assault.

The total-scale firewall in lots of safety suites solely manages to dam and determine a handful of those. Prior to now, Kaspersky has recognized all or practically all of the exploits, however in my most up-to-date check Kaspersky Web Safety 2012 ($79.95 direct for 3 licenses, 3.5 stars) solely caught two thirds of them. Discovering this degree of safety in a “mere” antivirus could be very spectacular.

Integrating Norton Merchandise
Like AVG, Norton AntiVirus 2012 integrates assist for quite a lot of different Norton merchandise through a set of icons throughout the underside of the window. If in case you have a subscription to Norton On-line Backup 2.0 ($49.99/yr direct, 3.5 stars) you may monitor your on-line backup standing by clicking an icon. One other icon hyperlinks to Norton Cellular Safety 2.0, a safety app for Android units.

For added searching safety you may click on an icon to put in Norton Secure Internet Lite. Whereas it does not have the ability of the Norton toolbar put in with the complete suite, it could actually warn you if you go to iffy or harmful Internet sites. It should additionally mark harmful search end result hyperlinks.

Essentially the most vital characteristic reached by way of these icons is the brand new Norton Administration system. This cloud-based service allows you to monitor the safety standing of all of your units, handle subscriptions and licenses, and set up or uninstall safety utilizing your current licenses. This characteristic shall be enabled the day the product is launched. As I am evaluating the product forward of that launch date I wasn’t capable of experiment with Norton Administration.

A Nice Alternative
Primarily based alone checks and impartial lab checks, you may hardly do higher than Norton AntiVirus 2012 for standalone antivirus safety. Its new interface is simple on the eyes, and its enhanced protecting applied sciences are efficient at each cleansing out resistant malware and maintaining new infestations out of a clear system. As a bonus, you get intrusion prevention that rivals the highest safety suites. Norton AntiVirus 2012 is PCMag’s Editors’ Alternative for standalone antivirus.

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