Norton Internet Security 2012

Norton Internet Security 2012

Editors' Rating:
5
Spectacular
Average User Rating:
3.3
out of 482 votes
See all user reviews

Quick Specs

Version:
19.5
File Size:
212.83MB
Date Added:
September 06, 2011
Price:
Free to try; annual subscription; 30-day opt-out trial (30-day trial); $69.99 to buy (Buy it now)
Operating Systems:
Windows XP/Vista/7
Total Downloads:
2,634,934
Downloads Last Week:
3,067
Product ranking:
Additional Requirements:
Not available

Editors' review

The bottom line: Low-impact performance, strong security, and useful features are the hallmarks of Norton Internet Security 2012, one of the best security suites available.

Review:
Editors' note: Portions of this review are based on CNET's review of Norton Internet Security 2011.

Over the past few years, Symantec has completed a course reversal for its Norton consumer Internet security suites. The massive package of security tools works better than it ever has before, with an impressive set of features, some useful new tools including remote management and download stability analysis, and third-party security efficacy benchmarks that are at the top of the heap. Meanwhile, CNET Labs' performance benchmarks indicate that though Norton doesn't leave the smallest footprint on your system, users should see a minimal impact overall.

Installation
For the third year in a row, Norton's formerly sluggish beast now offers a smooth and fast installation operation. Once you run the installer, the program is ready to operate in about a minute--impressively fast, and doubly so considering past performance. The installation process is also the first time that you will interact with Quorum, Norton's behavior-based detection engine. You'll be asked to participate by sending anonymous data to Symantec's cloud. Opting out of the data submission, according to Symantec, will not affect your security.

Running the trial of Norton also requires registering the program. Like many programs, Norton used to force open your default browser and take you to the company's registration Web site. Now you can register from within the program. Uninstalling the software left about 10 Registry entries behind, but no other traces were detectable. Overall, Norton's installation experience was fast and hassle-free, with a minimum of configuration options--but the ones that did come up appeared necessary.

Interface
Norton Internet Security 2012 contains some changes to the 2011 interface, although the design is heavily reminiscent of the previous version. It keeps the dark theme, punctuated by yellow text, and the contrast works well. Changes this year include a reorganized and streamlined Settings interface; a "pinnable" Advanced screen--so that power users can get about their business faster--which also comes with a CPU gauge; and tweaks to the System Status indicator. This year, the interface feels more balanced between the feature display and empty space.

The simplified layout offers Scans on the left, Updates in the center, and Advanced tools on the right. Clicking on one reveals controls specific to that area of protection. At the bottom of the interface is a wide, short map of the world covered with blinking yellow dots. Each one, according to Symantec, represents a threat to one of its users that has been successfully blocked. The Activity Map visual is cute, but completely irrelevant to your personal safety. More interesting is that below the map there are a series of mobile app-style buttons. From there you can access the new Norton Management, Norton Mobile, Norton Online Family, Norton Safe Web, and Norton Backup without having to jump to your browser.

Features and support
There aren't many new features in Norton Internet Security 2012, but what's new ought to appeal to the kind of person who wants the souped-up security in this robust suite.

There's now a link at the bottom of the main interface to Norton's mobile version. Next to it is a link for Norton Management, a new tool that opens in your default Web browser that allows you to use Norton remotely. This includes monitoring security status, remote add and installation, and license key renewal. However, given the growth of the mobile market, it wouldn't be unreasonable to expect a stronger connection between the two in the coming year.

One of the better new features is a change to Download Insight. This community-driven tool originally evaluated files being downloaded for security, but now it looks at their stability for other Norton users, too. There are also metered bandwidth options for people on rate-limited connections, and several interface tweaks to make the program easier on the eyes and to make it easier to find things.

The port of Norton 360's startup manager was an excellent call. If you're Windows-savvy, you're probably comfortable managing that stuff by hand, but even for those in the know, the Norton version makes startup changes easier to implement. Along with pulling in community ratings, you can toggle a process on or off, or delay it.

The Identity Safe has been improved, too. It now includes LastPass-styled password handling and cloud-based syncing and vaults, features that some competitors have had for a while. Google Chrome finally gets Safe Web support from Norton, but it's surprisingly not in Norton AntiVirus. While I understand the point of value-added features, this one seems an unnecessarily restrictive hit on users of the fastest-growing browser.

The reputation-based security checks where your programs were installed from and when they were installed, and compares that against data from the 58 million users participating in the crowd-sourced Norton Community Watch to see if any of your programs should be red-flagged. Norton's System Insight component has been bumped up to version 2.0; System Insight is the proprietary internal network that warns you when your programs unnecessarily hog system resources. This gives some extra heft to the system performance map, where you can click on any spike and see what caused it.

The third iteration of Download Insight applies the same reputation-based logic to new downloads, and the fourth version of Norton SONAR (Symantec Online Network for Automatic Response) looks for suspicious software behavior and automatically chooses protective actions. You can toggle how aggressive SONAR is in the Settings window.

Along with the quick scan, the full-system scan, and the custom scan for viruses and malware, you can now have Norton scan your Facebook wall for malicious links. There are also on-demand reputation-based quick scans, full scans, and custom scans for users who want Norton to immediately scan their installed programs. After completing a scan, Norton provides users with a summary report. More-detailed information, including scan duration and a deeper dive into threats discovered, can be read under the History option from the main window. There's also a link that you can follow in case you believe that Norton missed something in its scan, although as reputation-based protection matures, on-demand scanning becomes less of an issue when compared with the "always-on" protection offered here.

The bootable recovery tool isn't new, but it now comes with a feature that automatically creates a CD, DVD, or USB-based bootable device. The USB component is especially important on optical-drive-free systems such as Netbooks.

Norton continues to dabble in free security offerings, including the Norton Online Family parental controls, the "lite" version of Norton Safe Web, and the new Norton Power Eraser. Power Eraser is a new tool that will aggressively clean your computer of fake antivirus programs and other malware that prevents legitimate security tools from being installed.

As with the rest of the program, the support options have been streamlined behind a drop-down menu in the top right of the interface. Help opens local support, Tutorials leads to a Web site with extensive how-tos, and the Get Support link accesses the breadth of Norton's customer support in a new window. Here, users can chat with tech support 24-7, explore the user manual, and check out the Norton FAQ and knowledge base. Phone support is also available, although Symantec takes part in the trend to make phone support harder to access by funneling users to online resources.

Performance
Norton's fast installation and comprehensive feature set would be useless without solid performance, and Norton Internet Security 2012 delivers extremely high third-party efficacy benchmarks and strong performance benchmarks.

In a real-world test, Norton 2012 completed a Quick Scan in 2 minutes, 43 seconds; the Full Scan took 1 hour 43 minutes and 54 seconds. While the Full Scan average is comparable to last year's, the Quick Scan was approximately 1 minute and 30 seconds slower than last year's average.

CNET Labs' benchmarks found both Norton Internet Security 2012 and Norton AntiVirus 2012 to have performed well, although not as strongly as some of their competitors. Note that we can't directly compare this year's results with last year's because we upgraded our testing computer from Windows 7 x64 to Windows 7 x64 with Service Pack 1.

NIS 2012 slowed down the Labs' computer boot time by about 11.8 seconds, one of the fastest scores this year, whereas NAV 2012 added an unimpressive 21.2 seconds. This is in line with previous years, which saw NIS do better on boot than NAV.

Both had a very small impact on the computer's shutdown time, slowing it down only by about 4 seconds compared with an unprotected computer. Scan times for both were disappointingly average in the Labs; in previous years, they were aggressively competitive. However, our in-use system performance tests, the iTunes decoding, Microsoft Office, media multitasking, and Cinebench tests, showed both Norton suites having a low-level impact on our test computer. This means that, all things being equal, you're not going to notice much when Norton is running as you go about your computing business.

Security program Boot time Shutdown time Scan time MS Office performance iTunes decoding Media multitasking Cinebench
Unprotected system 40 6 n/a 395 120 342 17,711
Average of all tested systems (to date) 63.0 15.8 1,136 416 125 348 17,112
Norton AntiVirus 2012 61.2 9.9 1,154 403 125 344 17,007
Norton Internet Security 2012 51.8 10.3 1,066 410 123 343 17,386

*All tests measured in seconds, except for Cinebench. On the Cinebench test, the higher number is better.

In independent threat detection and removal tests, Norton is a top performer. In the AV-Test.org test on Windows 7 from the first quarter of 2011, Norton Internet Security 2011 scored 15 out of 18 overall, one of the better suites tested. The suite had a 5.5 rating out of 6 in Protection, a 5.0 in Repair, and a 4.5 in Usability.

The second-quarter 2011 test, on a Windows XP computer, definitely showed improvement in some areas and regression in others. It scored 13.5 out of 18 overall, a solid midrange score. The suite improved in Protection and Repair with a 5.0 rating out of 6 for both, but Usability dropped to 3.5 most likely due to false positives.

Third-quarter results aren't in yet, but results shared by AV-Test.org with CNET indicate that the suite continues to perform well. It notched a 98.94 percent malware detection rate, higher than the overall average rate of 97.31 percent in August 2011 certification testing, but not as high as some competitors, such as Bitdefender. The suite was able to remove 83.3 percent of active malware infections, only slightly higher than the industry average of 80 percent. In AV-Test.org's zero-day attacks test, Bitdefender blocked 100 percent of the attacks, compared with the average August 2011 certification results of 92.16 percent. The suite also did not find any false positives.

The most recent AV-Comparatives.org Whole Product test, which looks at on-demand scanning, retroactive tests, and "real-world" guards including cloud-based protections, puts Norton Internet Security 2011 toward the front of the class, out of 17 suites tested. Looking at Whole Product test results cumulatively from January 2011 to June 2011 found that AVG came in 13th, blocking 99.1 percent of threats.

Dennis Technology Labs, a member of the Anti-Malware Testing Standards Organization (AMTSO), found in January 2011 that Norton Internet Security 2011 earned an overall protection score of 142 (PDF), tied with Trend Micro. Norton also had zero false-positive warnings during the test.

Following the path blazed by Norton 2009 through 2011, Norton continues to build a strong performance record based on excellent detection, fast scan times, and low false positives. However, it's clear that according to some tests, there's been some small slippage.

Conclusion
Symantec positions its premium security suite, Norton Internet Security 2012, as one of the best paid-license security suites available. The tight integration of behavioral threat detection, in conjunction with serious attention to download stability, makes Norton a compelling choice. The extras are worthwhile, too, especially for people looking for one security solution that includes mobile. There's no doubt that this is comprehensive, robust security that users can put their trust in.

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All User Reviews
  • All Versions:

    3.3

    out of 482 votes

    • 5 star: 185
    • 4 star: 78
    • 3 star: 40
    • 2 star: 45
    • 1 star: 134
  • Current Version:

    3.6

    out of 55 votes

    • 5 star: 24
    • 4 star: 11
    • 3 star: 6
    • 2 star: 3
    • 1 star: 11
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    Results 1-5 of 5

  • 5 stars

    "it is great"

    June 11, 2014   |   By sarahflieger

    Version: Norton Internet Security 2014 21.1.0.18

    Pros

    everything is great

    Cons

    nothing is bad

    Reply to this review

    Was this review helpful? (0) (0)

  • 5 stars

    "One of the Best on the Market"

    May 31, 2014   |   By NXSF1Y

    Version: Norton Internet Security 2014 21.1.0.18

    Pros

    1. The program does what it says it does blocks all kinds of Malware from entering your PC.

    2. Good Firewall that doesn't alert you on everything and will block things entering and exiting from the PC.

    3. Easy to use and understand.

    Cons

    None that i can think of

    Summary

    The program will block all kinds of Malware from penetrating your PC that's a fact.
    The Firewall is one of the best when set up right and less obtrusive works in the background.
    Ive have an old windows XP still and the latest NIS 2014 and am happy to say virus clean even though XP no longer is being supported for updates by Microsoft.
    For those that hates the program and gives it a bad rating and say they get viruses while using the program, all i have to say you must be idiots or noobs one to get infected with this program installed. Maybe watching too much porn or doing illegal activities or downloads that are getting you infected "Pirating". Everyone should know Malware/Trojans and such are not real viruses you can find the comparison online if you need to look it up. They are Malware but not a virus. Norton Handles Viruses not All forms of Malware as with all Internet Security Suites. Antivirus can block but not successfully removes every pieces of Malware that comes along which is vital to use a 2nd or 3rd program along side any security suite. I use NIS 2014 with malwarebytes Anti-Malware and SUPERAntiSpyware Pro and am free of Malware. IF something tries to get in one of the three programs picks it up and removes it before entry. No security suite should be used alone that's also fact. You can find all sorts of articles that explains what is Malware and what are virus and why you should use more than one program with an Antivirus. If you get infected a lot this day and age then you have a problem.

    Reply to this review Read reply (1)

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  • 1 stars

    "not what is promised"

    April 23, 2014   |   By miksutif

    Version: Norton Internet Security 2014 21.1.0.18

    Pros

    not better than other items like it.

    Cons

    The promise on the box is that it takes care of all viruses etc. I had a problem with malware, they did stuff and then wanted me to PAY $100 to be taken to experts to get this malware off my PC. I read them what the box said. No effect. I found a place on the internet that got rid of the malware for free, and it was no sneaking in the backdoor, it was right up front FREE. Norton wanted to know where and I would not tell them. They wanted to give me an extension on my purchase but I said for what, your product does not work. I just want everyone to know about Norton.

    Reply to this review

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  • 5 stars

    "Awesome product!"

    April 10, 2014   |   By Hench77124

    Version: Norton Internet Security 2014 21.1.0.18

    Pros

    Awesome product!

    Cons

    Awesome product!

    Summary

    Awesome product!

    Reply to this review

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  • 1 stars

    "Garbage!!!"

    March 28, 2014   |   By Dr.EpSUN

    Version: Norton Internet Security 2014 21.1.0.18

    Pros

    I have paid for Norton several times and it is STILL USELESS!

    Cons

    I had a paid for Norton installation for last few months but Norton behaved like a drunk at a bar! I just knew I had serious virus problems as my computer behaved like a tortoise.
    So I installed Panda Cloud Antivirus Free Edition and it Neutralised 40!!! problems including 2 severe trojans. Brillinat job recommend Panda Cloud Antivirus Free Edition to all!

    Summary

    Dont waste your money on Norton! = Buy something else

    Updated on Mar 28, 2014

    Here you can see part of the scan result.
    Nortoon allowed all of this, but it was Panda who found it!
    http://screencast.com/t/LUhsqhSA

    Updated on Mar 28, 2014

    Here you can see part of the scan result.
    Nortoon allowed all of this, but it was Panda who found it!
    http://screencast.com/t/LUhsqhSA

    Reply to this review Read reply (1)

    Was this review helpful? (0) (1)

  • Results 1-5 of 5

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