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2/26/2007
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Norton Goes Online

Symantec rolls out new combination security and online backup service for consumers

Symantec today rolled out a combination security and online backup service aimed at preventing identity theft and the compromise of other personal data for consumers.

The service includes antivirus, anti-spyware, anti-phishing, two-way firewall, and behavior-based malware detection.

"Most importantly, this [rollout] has all of the transaction security technology," says Roland Trolup, Symantec's vice president of consumer products. "The behavior-based protection system defends against crimeware to detect anything that will steal your identity, credit cards, and passwords," such as keyloggers.

The service is aimed at users who want an all-in-one security solution that does most of the work in the background, and with minimal user interaction. Norton 360 also tunes PC performance by diagnosing and fixing any related problems.

Putting all your eggs in one security basket may be convenient, but it can also be risky, some experts say. "Norton 360's all-encompassing approach to end-user security appears to be a good thing at first, but further inspection will reveal this to be a bad idea. Diversity is a great form of security, and relying on all of your security from one vendor opens you up to problems," says David Maynor, CTO of Errata Security.

"Symantec, just like every other AV vendor, has had problems in their software in the past. When you are 100 percent reliant on them for security, how can you be certain they won't have more problems in the future?"

Norton 360 uses Symantec Online Network for Advanced Response (SONAR) technology for behavior-based malware detection to spot new threats in real-time, and the service also removes rootkits in the kernel.

The new software-as-a-service also performs Web authentication to protect against man-in-the-middle attacks, Symantec's Trolup says, and performs vulnerability assessments to ensure strong passwords and to detect vulnerabilities.

"It checks for browser vulnerabilities, misdirected addresses, too... And it makes sure the computer is configured properly," he says.

For backup, it comes with a two-Gbyte, automated online store. "Over one half of consumers don't do backups, and one of the beliefs is it's too difficult... This automatically does backups for them, so it's simpler," Trolup says. Symantec offers additional storage, too, at $29.99 for 5 Gbytes; $49.99 for 10 Gbytes; and $69.99 for 25 Gbytes.

Norton 360 runs with Windows XP and the 32-bit version of Vista. But some of the security features in Norton 360 won't work out of the box with the 64-bit version of Windows Vista, Trolup says, due to Microsoft's PatchGuard.

"Much of the new behavior-based malware detection against crimeware, screenscrapers, and keyloggers is disabled on the 64-bit version," he says. "The net effect is it's less secure. In fairness, it will give us mechanisms as early as Service Pack 1 to turn those back on."

The service is priced at $79.99 for one year and can be installed on up to three PC's.

— Kelly Jackson Higgins, Senior Editor, Dark Reading

  • Symantec Corp. (Nasdaq: SYMC)
  • Errata Security Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

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