Norton's new Power Eraser goes free

The tool for removing aggressive malware is part of Symantec's 2011 refresh to its Norton consumer security suites.

Norton Power Eraser is a new tool from Symantec that the company says is the home user's last, best hope for eradicating an aggressive malware infection. Power Eraser is free, and one component of the update to Norton Internet Security 2011 and Norton AntiVirus 2011.

The new Reputation scan, seen here in the Norton 2011 beta, allows you to focus your security scan solely on the "reputations" of existing files on your system, as compared to other Norton users. This is an efficient way to check whether an otherwise safe file has been corrupted by malware.

(Credit: Screenshot by Seth Rosenblatt/CNET)

By making Power Eraser free, the company hopes to draw in users who have been scared off by years of bad experiences and who haven't given the Norton suites a chance since the programs' turnaround in the 2009 versions. Although Power Eraser represents an aggressive approach towards helping infected consumers, the suites have also been improved in other ways.

Performance is one of the areas that Norton continues to improve in. According to three independent efficacy testers--Dennis Labs, AV-Test.org and AV-Comparatives.org--Norton continues to score at or near the top of their tests. Norton 2011 introduces revamped proprietary zero-day detection technology called Sonar 3, as well as the expected ongoing improvements to the existing Norton System Insight and Download Insight for evaluating real-time system performance for security risks, as well as reputation-based download guarding. Norton has also improved its Bootable Recovery Tool to include a default setting for USB sticks.

The more basic of the two programs, Norton AntiVirus 2011 includes antivirus, antimalware, e-mail and instant-message guards, and a silent mode for gaming, and retails for $39.99 for one computer. Norton Internet Security 2011 includes the above features plus parental controls and identity protection features, and retails for $69.99 for three computers.

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