Norton Internet Security 2007

Reviewed by: Howard Carson, February 2007
Published by: Symantec
Requires: Windows XP or Vista; 256MB RAM, 350MB available hard disk space, Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 or later for phishing support, Firefox 1.0 or later, Opera 8 or later; AOL® Instant Messenger 4.7 or higher, Yahoo! ® Instant Messenger 5.x or 6.x, MSN® Messenger 6.0 or higher
MSRP: $69.99

Norton Internet Security 2007 now consists primarily of a powerful antivirus scanner and a very good firewall, coupled with protection from phishing, pharming and rootkits. However, somebody has to talk to the development mavens at Symantec. As the biggest keep getting bigger, the degree to which normal humans are able to grapple with the massive feature and function sets offered by products such as Norton Internet Security 2007, seems to be diminishing with each successive revision. At 350MB, Norton Internet Security 2007 is the biggest pantload to date from Symantec. Even at that enormous size, the AntiSpam component is no longer included in the installed package — you've got to pick it up separately from Symantec, along with the Ad Blocker and the confidential information protection component. Norton Internet Security 2007 appears to be Symantec's attempt to redefine this suite category by not including antispam or backup functions.

The first hint of trouble after installing Norton Internet Security 2007 occurred during an automated run of WebRoot SpySweeper, a third-party spyware scanner. The WebRoot scan halted and would not restart. Norton actually seemed to detect the WebRoot scan as malware of some sort and apparently tried to kill the process. We encountered six other conflicts with third-party software over the two week real-world review period. Color us unimpressed.

We relaxed somewhat however, after running Internet Explorer 7 into some known phishing sites. The new antiphishing toolbar in Norton Internet Security 2007 worked brilliantly and managed to nail every one of the thirty or more phishing attempts we encountered. Bravo. Virus detection is equally robust. Unfortunately, we could not do the same thing with Firefox because Norton Internet Security 2007 is not yet fully compatible with the popular browser.

We relaxed even more while testing the antivirus component. We simply downloaded unfiltered email from a dozen different business accounts we maintain, and observed the detection rate, clean up or deletion success rate. Color us thoroughly relieved and impressed. Norton Internet Security 2007 still ranks at or near the top when it comes to detecting and cleaning out viruses of all kinds. Apparently too, it's ability to detect so-called zero day threats (viruses deploying in the wild during the first couple of days of their existence, and before the antivirus software makers have come up with a cure) has also improved dramatically. The only problem with zero day threat detection is that you will still encounter a lot of false positives. Inexperienced users will sometimes allow a false positive to be killed, resulting in the eradication or disabling of a perfectly good program or file. All antivirus software makers have to do better in this area.


Symantec has redesigned Norton Internet Security to protect your computer against the assaults of all the aforementioned problems. In fact, while the competition in this product category is active, enthusiastic and growing rapidly, there are few other programs quite as robust as this one. However (and more important), we really missed the antispam component and we think that any internet security suite which fails to include protection from spam should really stop calling itself an internet security suite. In terms of direct competition for the feature and function crown, have a look at Zone Alarm Internet Security v7 or McAfee Internet Security 2007, both of which offer excellent and somewhat more inclusive feature and function sets. The user interface redesign is evident everywhere in Norton, so upgraders will have to spend some time poking around to refamiliarize themselves with the location of various controls, features and functions. We like the redesign however, because after a very short familiarization period it appears to be laid out much better than previous versions.

The true power in Norton Internet Security 2007 resides in the antivirus component. You'll get a look into that robustness immediately after installation. An initial system scan of a Windows XP Professional PC (almost identical to the PC we used in 2006 to test the previous version of the software) and a Windows Vista Home Premium PC, both showed minor improvements in scanning speeds. Email scanning in all cases was almost instantaneous. The depth and thoroughness of the scan is excellent.


The firewall component is quite good, but we noticed that, just like the antivirus component, the software no longer talks to you. You can turn on alerts for both components of course, but the default silence is disconcerting for advanced users. So Symantec appears to be respecting the needs of inexperienced or simply non-technical PC users by silencing the sometimes startling intrusion attempt warnings. We think that this is a decent enough concession to many end users, but something that provides a false sense of security in many situations. Instead of expending programming and development efforts on this type of usability or interoperability decision, we could wish that Symantec put more effort into reducing even more the chance of false positives in all components. We spent about two hours trying to fool the firewall into allowing various prohibited items, but we were unsuccessful.

Cons: Norton Internet Security 2007 installs itself very deeply into Windows. In fact, thoroughly uninstalling the product is more a matter of labor, stress and time than it is representative of a product designed to respect the customer who purchased it. That's a problem. The uninstallation process is admittedly more thorough than previous versions. Simply uninstalling via Windows Add/Remove Programs control panel applet just doesn't do the trick thoroughly however. Some Registry entries are still left behind including one for the automated Site Advisor component. Symantec provides freely available uninstallation instructions on the product tech support pages, but we still think that anything other than a quick and thorough uninstall is an abuse of personal time. As of this writing (February 2007) the proprietary new AntiPhishing toolbar is not yet compatible with Firefox — Internet Explorer 7 only for now. Despite being positively huge, the program is now missing several important components which have to be downloaded separately. We really missed the antispam component and we think that any internet security suite which fails to include protection from spam should really stop calling itself an internet security suite. With computer security at the top of every tech pundit's list of hot topics, Symantec has released a monstrously large product into a market place looking for versatility, speed, agility and compatibility. It's a jungle out there and Symantec apparently thinks it's the lion, completely free to do whatever it pleases.

Pros: Virus detection leads the industry. The firewall provides equally robust protection and it appears to be as malware resistant as anything else on the market — really well done. The AntiSpyware scans appear to be accurate and well controlled with no false positives during the entire review period. The user interface is easier to navigate than previous versions. Symantec appears to have put some serious effort into reducing system resource usage (RAM and CPU usage primarily), making Norton Internet Security 2007 less of a load on the system while at the same time being a better antivirus, firewall and antispyware product. Recommended.




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