Norton 360: The first from the ground up all-in-one security solution

Journal of Consumer Marketing

ISSN: 0736-3761

Article publication date: 6 November 2007

282

Citation

Pitta, D.A. (2007), "Norton 360: The first from the ground up all-in-one security solution", Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 24 No. 7. https://doi.org/10.1108/jcm.2007.07724gab.001

Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited


Norton 360: The first from the ground up all-in-one security solution

Edited by Dennis A. PittaUniversity of Baltimore

Norton 360: The first from the ground up all-in-one security solution

One only needs to read a newspaper to recognize the extreme nature of security threats to PC users. A recent story about the UK physician terrorists mentioned the involvement of a hacker who phished worldwide and collected identity information that was used to buy items to support terrorism. He built a network of stolen credit card and user information that was used to obtain airline tickets, survival items and even knives. In the past, we might say that marketers probably would not be vulnerable to such schemes. However, even if a marketer’s site is secure, there may be secondary leaks that compromise data. For example, several universities’ alumni offices were hit by hackers who stole alumni records. The records included current address, date of birth and even the alumni’s student identification number. In the USA, until very recently, that number was the individual’s social security number. Thus the thieves had everything necessary to open credit accounts and loot the contents.

Development of security software

Along with McAfee, Norton was a pioneer in anti-virus software. As new threats emerged, Norton responded. In many cases it was an action-reaction process with the hackers innovating and the anti-virus companies rushing to neutralize the assault. The result was a evolving product category which morphed into ever more unwieldy programs developed to blunt diverse threats. The situation reached equilibrium with the bad guys enjoying initial success and the rest of us struggling to stop them. The reaction has provided products with an antivirus focus, products that build a firewall, and products that seek out malware and try to stop it.

As the hackers have grown more sophisticated, their points of attack, tactics and their objectives have developed. When hackers recognized that anti-virus programs looked for patterns in file structures, they quickly changed the structure. Some hid the code in innocuous appearing files that activated after a period creating the now familiar Trojan horse. As technology has matured, new avenues of vulnerability have emerged. For example, the advent and proliferation of wireless technology has presented a tempting target for thieves.

Strategically, users need an integrated suite of security programs that protect them from all of the threats. At best, that goal is a tall order. Enter Norton 360.

Program features

Corel Corporation once had the reputation of bundling so many applications in its office suite that the value was unmistakable and the industry jokes were universal. Symantic might have taken the Corel approach and simply bundled all of the features from its programs: Norton Antivirus, Norton Internet Security, Norton SystemWorks, and Norton Confidential. Instead, Symantec started from scratch and tied to optimize a new protection product. By making a fresh start, Symantec tightened functionality and increased speed. As an example, we used Norton LiveUpdate on a broadband connection to download Norton 360 which loaded and installed within a few seconds.

So what’s in the new “from the ground up” package? Norton 360 includes antivirus, antispyware, antiphishing, antirootkit protection, a firewall function and a vulnerability assessment tool that assesses what Windows updates a computer needs. In addition, Symantec included a new item, SONAR (Symantec Online Network for Advance Response). SONAR is behavioral monitoring software. Symantec describes SONAR as a “behavioral detection technology that protects against malicious code before standard virus and spyware detection definitions have been created. Such emerging and unknown malicious code can strike in the form of Trojan Horses, worms, mass-mailing viruses, spyware or downloaders. While many products use only a limited set of heuristics, SONAR draws from an extensive range of heterogeneous application behavior data which not only greatly enhances detection but also significantly minimizes false positives. For consumers, the result is zero-hour protection from a vast threat spectrum without being bothered with confusing decision-based prompts. SONAR technology provides protection against emerging threats in a way that does not compromise the user experience or require additional system resources. When detections are made through SONAR, no user interaction is required.”

Other online tools like Parental Control, Antispam, and other optional features are supplied in an add-on package.

There are other helpful functions built into Norton 360. There is a mini version of Norton SystemWorks which helps to defragment a system’s hard drive and clean up temporary files that slow PC’s. Norton 360 adds another feature: a backup and recovery tool. High capacity USB external hard drives are now very inexpensive and the backup and recovery tool provides assurance that the files backed up or restored are virus free. The program provides another backup destination, the first offered in the product category, an online storage area. Remote physical backup locations are vital to business and government and have been costly enough to restrict use to larger organizations. Now smaller firms and the individual user can store files online. Symantec provides up to 2 GB of free online storage. Users have the option of increasing online storage capacity. Currently, one can buy up to 25 GB for $69.99 per year. Online storage is one of those life changing experiences for the home user. Since it is free and easy enough to use, the barriers to first trial are low. Then too, since it is linked to a comprehensive security product, it provides users peace of mind against the potential actions of hackers.

Setup

Setup was fast and easy. We installed it on a new laptop which came with Windows Vista. Norton 360 will also work with Windows XP. The program requires 300 MB of hard drive space and 256 MB of RAM which are not significant amounts with modern computers. The price includes installation on up to three different PCs.

Once we installed the product we were impressed by its very attractive interface. It is a departure from that used in other Norton products. It is clean and intuitive and easy to navigate. Symantec provides a useful toolbar placed across the top of the screen. That tool bar allows quick access to the program features. So, one can access scans, Norton online accounts, help, and technical support. Below the toolbar one can see a display of current system alerts. The main section displays the meat of the program, modules for PC Security, Transaction Security, Backup and Recovery, and PC Tuneup. Each communicates status using color-codes and a short explanation.

It is clear that Norton 360 is aimed at the average user. It presents a useable list of diagnostics, tools and status reports. Advanced users who wish to modify some of the settings have to look for the change links. Modifications require use the main screen’s toolbar for Tasks and Settings. It helps avoid unintended changes that novices might make. Symantec also helpfully added access to Help and technical support available from many points within the program. Once nice change is the absence of commercial links to the Symantec shopping site that peddled additional products and was a bit annoying.

Backup

Using Norton 360 one can back up or recover from local and online sources. The interface is clear and helpful. It displays four panels. The first offers the choice of recommended quick backup or standard full backup. The next panel shows backup sources in Windows terms: namely items like Photos, Music, e-mails, Internet favorites or specific types of files like Financial files, documents or contacts. One can check boxes for each category and select which specific types of files to backup. One does have the option of adding a specific file folder which is helpful for those of us from the DOS era. My preference is to create a DATA subdirectory with specific types of files to backup. That arrangement allows quick backup to thumb drives or DVD’s. The third panel allows one to choose the backup target including the online storage area. The last panel allows users to set the backup schedule. The arrangement works well and is simple enough for even the novice user.

Performance

In the recent past, some of our staff used a Norton product and decided to replace it with something else. Previous Norton products morphed into resource hogs that slowed system performance and ate up quite a bit of disc storage. Users can now benefit from Symantec’s clean slate product development approach with Norton 360. By designing from the bottom up, software engineers avoided the add-on integration problems that force “make work” modifications that reduce program efficiency. The improvement is quite noticeable compared to previous Norton products.

At its core, Norton 360 uses the Norton Antivirus 2007 engine which was highly rated by numerous reviewers including CNET Laboratories. CNET tests the majority of new software releases and keeps track of performance test scores over time. On the battery of critical tests, Norton 360 scored better or worse on specific items than previous releases but overall offered an improved performance. Several independent testing laboratories publish results of their tests and Norton 360 earns top marks for antivirus and firewall performance.

Support

There are two sources of support, the built-in in-program Help and Symantec support. Help consists of in-program frequently asked questions (FAQs), which are detailed enough. It offers term searching our use of an index to find the help topics desired. Symantec’s technical support for Norton 360 another series of FAQs that may be helpful for most issues. For more help, users can click on an envelope icon that links to free e-mail and chat support or paid telephone support. The in-program Help is pretty useful. In contrast, the user guide is a brief 30 pages and provides minimum details.

Conclusion

Security products do no offer the attractiveness of games or the overt productivity of business software. They are more like the unseen police forces monitoring closed circuit surveillance cameras in major cities. The are ready to respond to crime, but most users do not know that they are there doing their job. Norton 360 works somewhat like the police, doing its job in the background with few hints that it is there.

Norton 360 offers an innovative approach to software design that yields benefits to consumers and the company. By starting from a clean slate and designing a brand new security product, Symantec not only increased product performance, it freed itself from the shackles of legacy software. While Norton 360 is not for everyone, home users will find it perfect. In fact, for home and student use, Norton 360 represents the best value of ease, tools, and performance. It is worth more than a casual look.

Program functions

Symantec lists the following Norton 360 functions in its literature.

  1. 1.

    Functions:

  2. 2.
    • Antivirus;

    • Antispyware;

    • Email scanning;

    • Antiphishing;

    • Online identity protection;

    • Web site authentication;

    • Firewall protection;

    • Automatic backup and restore;

    • Automatic updates;

    • PC performance tuneups;

    • 2GB secured online storage

    • Embedded support;

    • Rootkit detection; and

    • Optional antispam and parental controls.

    • Key features:

    • 1 year protection for up to 3 household PCs;

    • PC security defends you against a broad range of threats;

    • Transaction security safeguards you against online identity theft;

    • Automatic backup and restore protects your important files from loss;

    • PC tuneup keeps your PC running at peak performance;

    • Protection for up to three household PCs;

    • Free technical support via email and live chat;

    • Includes 2 GB of online storage (option to purchase additional storage);

    • Live Update™ Notice alerts you to new features, product updates and threat advisories as available throughout the renewable service period;

    • On-going Protection keeps your computer protected from the latest internet risks by automatically renewing your subscription at the regular subscription price (plus applicable tax), so you do not have to; and

    • Windows® XP, Windows Vista™.

  3. 3.

    Norton 360 System requirements:

  4. 4.
    • 300 MHz or higher processor;

    • 256 MB of RAM; and

    • 300 MB of available hard disk space.

  5. 5.

    Operating systems supported:

  6. 6.
    • Windows® XP Home/XP Pro/XP Media 2005+; and

    • Windows Vista™ Home Basic/Home Premium/Business/Ultimate.

  7. 7.

    Additional Windows Vista requirements:

  8. 8.
    • Must meet minimum Windows Vista operating system requirements; and

    • Phishing Protection feature available only on 32 bit Internet Explorer.Phishing Protection feature requires Microsoft Internet Explorer® 6.0 or higher.

  9. 9.

    Supported instant messenger clients:

    • AOL® Instant Messenger, version 4.7 or earlier;

    • Yahoo!® Messenger version 5.0 or earlier;

    • Windows Messenger version 4.7 or earlier; and

    • MSN® Instant Messenger versions 4.6, 4.7, 6.0, or earlier. Version 5.0 is not supported.

    Online backup feature requires high-speed Internet connection; and

  10. 10.

    Email scanning supported for POP3-compatible email clients.

  11. 11.

    Required for all installations:

    • DVD or CD-ROM drive; and

    • Standard Web browser

Price

Special introductory pricing offer, $69.99 for one year’s protection. Upgrades from previous Norton products cost $59.99 for one year’s protection.

Available from Symantec Corporation: www.symantec.com

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