Norton calls on Quorum for 2010

Symantec is betting heavily that program behavior is the future battlefront of security and is making a big push in its 2010 Norton lineup with a behavioral engine dubbed Quorum.

Symantec is betting heavily that program behavior is the future battlefront of security and is making a big push in its 2010 security program lineup with a behavioral engine called Quorum.

Debuting Wednesday, both the basic Norton AntiVirus 2010 and the more robust Norton Internet Security 2010 will use Quorum, which Symantec is calling an advanced security network based both on traditional malware signatures and on reputation for both files and software.

This screenshot is from the Norton Internet Security 2010 beta, though it\'s not expected to change drastically in the final version. This shows the Norton Insight screen. (Credit: Screenshot by Seth Rosenblatt/CNET)

The Quorum system uses the uniqueness of mutating malware against the threat itself, said Dan Nadir, director of product management for Norton AntiVirus and Norton Internet Security. Multiple variations of a single threat have become a potential risk to the efficacy of definition-based antivirus, so a system like Quorum--in which the unfamiliarity of a new threat becomes the tool by which the threat is neutralized--could drastically improve security programs.

Symantec noted that it hasn't abandoned last year's pledge to improve Norton's performance, and it is keeping the quick scan to about one minute. An in-progress scan conducted with the beta version used about 70MB of RAM, while the program used about 15.5 MB when idle. Symantec also exposes how much memory the program is using in the main pane. Symantec says that in the final version, Norton users should expect to see working memory usage at less than 10 MB, and that the "quick scan" should be completed in 64 seconds.

The Quorum technology is designed to expose system and threat-detection data, so users who want more than just "set-it-and-forget-it" information can customize Norton's responses. The Insight Network incorporates Quorum and uses statistical analysis of file attributes to judge the trustworthiness of a file. Norton Threat Insight provides information on detected threats, such as the URL of a threat. Norton System Insight uncovers system information and can be used to detect system slowdowns. Norton Download Insight uses Symantec's cloud data to determine the safety of a downloaded file before it runs.

The more robust Norton Internet Security includes new enterprise-level antispam algorithms, which Symantec says shouldn't require any "training" from users. These have been incorporated from Brightmail, a company that Symantec bought more than five years ago. Norton Internet Security also includes OnlineFamily.Norton, Symantec's new parental control system, and Norton SafeWeb, which is a search results and e-commerce rating component.

Norton Internet Security 2010 costs $69.99 for a three-PC license, and Norton AntiVirus 2010 is $39.99 for one computer.