New Norton 360 products offer integrated VPN
Bangalore, July 2 2020: It is 30 years since Symantec acquired the company that bore the name of Peter Norton and created a separate division to market the seminal personal computing tools that he developed. For people of my generation, Norton’s books and software tools were essential to the use and understanding of Microsoft’s DOS operating system. His first book published in 1983: “Inside the IBM PC: Access to Advanced Features & Programming (Techniques)”, was the bible of PC users and his software kit on a CD: “Norton’s Utilities” was essential to overcome the rough edges and glitches that Microsoft products were prone to-- for the next 3 decades.
Long after Peter Norton left the company and became a full-time philanthropist, Symantec retained his name on its line of antivirus and net security products, though Norton Utilities is no longer published (probably because Windows is now a much more robust operating system).
The Norton name lives on – in the new editions of Symantec’s consumer Internet security tools. Norton 360 is now available in 4 editions Standard (single PC for 1 year), Deluxe -3 PC Deluxe -5 PC and Premium (10 PC). With discounts currently available online, the four editions cost Rs 1199, Rs 1799, Rs 3499 and Rs 5199 respectively. The key features are there in all versions. In addition to the number of devices, there is also a difference in the size of free cloud storage offered as back-up to your devices: 10 GB, 50 GB, 75 GB and 100 GB respectively.
I have been able to install and experience the Deluxe (5 PC) version for much of the lockdown period and so have been able to verify most of the features. I believe the biggest bonus and differentiator is the built-in Virtual Private Network or VPN. Even for non-enterprise ie personal users, working on one’s laptop anywhere outside the security of one’s home is living dangerously – cyber threat-wise. All sorts of threats exist where the data on your device – phone or PC – can be skimmed from afar in public places, especially if you are using free public WiFi hotspots. Instead of scrambling to look for third party VPN software, you now have it by default on every device on which you install Norton 360 –and most usefully that includes your smart phone. It tells you how many ad trackers it blocked – the numbers in an hour, will astonish you.
The other feature that I have not seen recently in other products is the SafeCam feature. During the lockdown months, most of us have logged on to Webex, Zoom, Skype or some such video conference tool. The first thing we are required to do is to “enable” our camera and microphone. This opens up a vulnerability, because in a con-call where there could be dozens of unknown persons logging in, any one of them might be surreptitiously monitoring your camera feed for malicious purpose. SafeCam addresses this danger by tracking such unauthorised use.
Norton 360 offers parental controls so that you can set up walls for every user of a family device – particularly the young. It also helps organise all one’s passwords, store them securely and generate new ones periodically – otherwise a hassle for most lay users. Admittedly these are fairly standard features in Net security products. Norton also creates a smart firewall and a pop-up informs you live, every time it detects and fends off an intrusion. The most frequent such live action, I have been experiencing since I installed Norton 360 on my home PC, is the removal of some dodgy scripts from document attachments in my mail which could potentially be used by hackers to place malware on my device. And since I receive about 30-40 press releases a day, most of them with Word file attachments, I have been “saved” that many times!
One important consideration for me is this: installing a security product, while necessary, becomes a bit of a nuisance, if it palpably slows down the system. Yes, it has happened to me in the past – and that includes older versions of Norton, as well as some competitors. This time I have noticed no apparent slowdown in any of my key PC functions – and I say this after more than 2 months of use with Norton 360 under the hood.
I have not started using the back- up feature, but will get round to it real soon. Like most Gmail users, I have almost exhausted my free Google Drive storage and am not about to go for the paid extra storage! Notch another plus for Norton 360!