Symantec Norton Internet Security 2013 review
Norton Internet Security is one of the most popular anti-virus packages in the world. That's with good reason: in our tests, its accuracy in detecting malicious programs was second only to Kaspersky Internet Security. Unlike Kaspersky, Norton was compromised by two out of the 100 malicious programs it was exposed to. It also misidentified two of 100 benign programs as malicious, blocking them from being installed. This gave it a total accuracy rating of 381.5.
If you think a program has been unfairly blocked, you can reinstate it from the quarantine area. The quarantine section is available via Norton's advanced settings. Like most other popular security suites, Norton learns based on the feedback of its users. If it's not encountered a program before, it'll warn you about it as a potential risk, but won't actually stop you from running it unless it detects other risky behaviour.
We're not entirely comfortable with Norton's new interface. The garish bright tone used to indicate that your system is secure looks too bright and clashes with Norton's trademark yellow. We're also not fans of the rather silly animated spinning window effect you get - if you're a Windows 8 user, at least - when you switch from the main home screen to the Norton performance monitor.
Although the interface isn't particularly comfortable to use, there are plenty of features to help you keep your PC safe. The home screen gives you at-a-glance information about whether your PC is secure or not, plus some extra data about CPU usage, Norton’s use of system resources and its "trust level" - the percentage of installed files that it's evaluated as safe and therefore ignores in scans. The higher your trust level, the faster your scans are likely to be, but Norton doesn't take unnecessary risks, so your trust rating will drop as you install more software.
Also on the main screen is a Scan Now button, which lets you choose between quick, full and custom manual scans and also lets you check the reputation of the programs on your PC to see how trustworthy Symantec regards them to be. As well as your PC, you can scan your Facebook wall - this option installs the Norton Safe Web Facebook app on your account and flags up potentially risky links. As more and more malicious links appear on Facebook, this is a useful added layer of security.
Positioned front and centre on the home screen is the LiveUpdate button to manually check for virus definition updates and a shortcut link to the advanced settings screen. In a scrollable bar that runs down the right-hand side of the screen, you can access a variety of extra features that either come with or can be integrated with the security suite.
The shortcuts to Norton Online Backup and the Online Family parental controls don't do anything useful, unless you have separate subscriptions to these services. Norton Studio is a free add-on app for Windows 8 users that gives you a Start screen styled overview of all the suite's features but doesn't add any extra functionality.
You don't have to subscribe to any extra services or install anything to use Norton Safe Web, which lets you use the Norton desktop utility to check potentially dodgy URLs before you visit them. You can also install a free Safe Web browser plugin for your browser. Similarly, there's a free version of Norton Mobile Security - the mobile button on the sidebar just provides you with a download link and QR code.
We'd have preferred a much more streamlined interface, without so many links and buttons that seem to only exist to try to persuade you to buy or install other Symantec products. All the options you'll really need are in the settings screen, where you can configure components including email scanning, Norton's firewall, browser protection and scanning within popular Instant Messenger clients.