Our Review of Norton Internet Security 2014
Paid Anti-virus Programs
Symantec released the first version of Norton Anti-Virus in 1991. Since that time, Norton AV products continue to be among the most effective in terms of detection and reliability. Based on the powerful Norton Anti-Virus engine, Norton Internet Security 2014 offers not only dependable virus detection and removal, but also a host of other features including real-time website monitoring, an intelligent firewall, email scanning, antiphishing support and a polished touch-friendly interface.
With an annual subscription price of $79.99, Norton Internet Security 2014 is a tad on the expensive side - If used with a single PC. However, if you take into account that a single Norton license is good for up to three PCs, the product's value becomes much more evident. Therefore, if you have a few PCs and laptops you want to protect, Norton's pricing/licensing scheme for the security suite provides an attractive option when compared to those of many competitors.
After you enter your Norton account information, the installer will continue the installation process without any further interaction required. The installer also downloads and installs the latest virus pattern definitions and enable the Auto-Protect features automatically.
Installation on a clean machine is seamless and goes off without a hitch. However, if you attempt to install Norton Internet Security 2014 on a machine that has malware or virus infections, you may have to restart the computer and re-run the installer several times.
This is because the application will attempt to remove infections before installing and configuring the Auto-Protect features. Nevertheless, the cleaning and installation process on infected systems is effective and efficient - albeit time consuming because of the high number of system restarts required.
The user interface used by Norton Internet Security 2014 is clean and easy to navigate. The interface's large tabs and buttons are not only attractive, but also easy to use with touchscreen devices. The main screen contains just four large buttons covering Security, Identity, Performance and More Norton (which allows you to purchase additional protection options.) The main window also displays the number of days remaining in your subscription. When you first install Norton Internet Security 2014, you receive a free trial license that is good for 30 days. Therefore, protection is active immediately even before you purchase a subscription.
Clicking or tapping the Security button will take you to a screen that allows you to run scans, update virus definitions, view scan and detection histories and configure advanced settings. The default Identity, Performance and Advanced settings in Norton Internet Security should work well for most users. Therefore, the Run Scans button will be the one you use primarily. In the Scans window, there are options for running quick and full-system scans as well as creating custom ones. Additionally, the Scans window provides tools for repairing file problems, scanning your Facebook Timeline and running reports.
Using the default settings in Norton Internet Security 2014, the initial quick and full-system scans of the test system were relatively quick with run times of 2 minutes 6 seconds and 10 minutes 58 seconds respectively. Nevertheless, Norton Internet Security did cause sluggish performance when attempting to use other applications during the system scans.
The test system for this review is similar to many mainstream systems used at the time of publication, running Windows 7 and using an Intel dual-core processor with two gigs of RAM. Even with a relatively powerful PC, though, Norton Internet Security scans caused significant delay in the opening of new application windows. During the initial scans on the infection-free test system, opening programs such as Internet Explorer and Windows Media Center took more than 10 seconds. Even opening very small applications such as the Windows Snippet Tool (that opens almost instantly even on modestly powered computers) took a full three seconds.
Virus and malware detection rates with Norton Internet Security 2014 are excellent. After completing the initial system scans on the test PC, Norton Internet Security was disabled and a set of 15 virus and malware files added to the system. After adding the test set to the computer, Norton Internet Security was restarted.
Another quick scan of the system revealed no potential threats. This is because none of the test files were added to commonly accessed folders or locations. However, running a full system scan resulted in the security suite finding and neutralizing all 15 threats; thus, earning Norton Internet Security 2014 a perfect 100% detection rate for the test set of virus and malware files.
Another important factor regarding the effectiveness of an anti-virus or anti-malware application is its ability to recognize and detect false positives. False positives are files that may resemble harmful files because of missing or out dated digital signatures, non-existent publisher information or other anomalies. However, in most cases, false positives are in fact safe and harmless files.
To test the effectiveness of Norton Internet Security in detecting and recognizing false positives, the suite was disabled and a set of 16 false positive files introduced to the system. As all of the files in the false positive test set contain characteristics similar to infected files, it is possible that a virus or malware scanner may recognize them as being infected. If this occurs, the scanner may delete important files from the computer causing applications to fail or hang. Consequently, with a false positive test, lower detection rates are better.
Norton Internet Security scored well above average in the false positive detection test, recognizing only one of the sixteen files in the test set as a virus or malware. After recognizing the test file as a virus, Norton Internet Security quarantined and neutralized the file just as it would any other threat.
Below is a screenshot of the harmless files used in the false positive test.
In addition to offering superior virus detection, Norton Internet Security 2014 does an outstanding job at protecting your computer from malicious and antiphishing websites. Norton uses both published blacklists and smart heuristics to safeguard you against sites that attempt to phish or retrieve sensitive data. For this review, the reviewer attempted to open 10 known phishing websites in all three major browsers (Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer). With each attempt, Norton Internet Security 2014 blocked the reviewer from opening the malicious website.
Norton Family (Parental Controls) is available only as add-on purchase for Norton Internet Security 2014. Therefore, the Parental Control features were not reviewed.
Norton Internet Security 2014 offers detection and antiphishing rates unmatched by all but a few anti-virus and security applications. The security suite scored a perfect 100 percent in virus detection and antiphishing tests and a well above average 93.75 percent in the false positives test. Although, not covered in this review, the intelligent firewall and email scanning features are also excellent and integrate well with Windows. Additionally, Norton Internet Security provides a user interface that is extremely user friendly and easy to navigate - especially for touch screen users.
Norton's excellent detection and protection features do come at a price - slow system performance. The advanced settings in Norton Internet Security allow you to set resource usage levels and run scans in the background. However, this just causes the scans to take much longer, and the level of system performance during the scans - even with the adjusted settings - does not improve to any noticeable degree.
Norton Internet Security 2014 is expensive for single PC users. Additionally, the lack of included parental controls feature may be a negative for users with small children or others they want to protect from harmful or adult content without having to purchase an additional subscription.