On Virus Patrol

On Virus Patrol

Norton is one of the two big names in antivirus protection, so you probably won’t be disappointed if you spend $49.95 for the company’s stand-alone product, Norton AntiVirus 2004. The latest version hunts down adware and spyware (which sends your data to marketers, hackers, or a suspicious spouse without the use of a visible program). It also blows the whistle on keystroke logging programs, which record what you type. Although NAV works on Windows 98, ME, 2000, and XP, it will detect viruses in Windows 2000 and XP compressed file archives before the files are used.

Norton AntiVirus lets you scan anything — files, drives, memory, master boot records, for example — at any time. You can also enable auto protection, and NAV will ask you what to do if it finds a virus: Try to repair files, quarantine the files, or deny access.

The Scan Progress page shows how many files have been scanned but doesn’t detail how many are left to scan or what percentage they represent. It does report the scanning time afterward, which is a helpful feature. Norton AntiVirus also includes script blocking and can scan for viruses in POP3 or SMTP e-mail (such as Outlook Express or Eudora) and in these instant messengers: AOL 4.7 and higher, MSN 4.6 or 4.7, and Yahoo 5.0 or higher. (www.symantec.com; $49.95)

he term “Internet security” covers a lot these days, from attacks on ports to viruses to privacy concerns. Norton Internet Security 2004 addresses those issues, plus spam, unwanted cookies, and Web ads — all in one $69.95 package.

You can install some or all of the features in IS and later disable and re-enable them individually from within the program’s console. From there you can also configure and reconfigure components, or leave them at the factory default settings until something gets in your way — like the firewall blocking a Website. A firewall is a good idea, the most important piece of security software you can own if you’re online; we’re just not sure that Norton’s firewall is the best option. The strongest component in Norton’s security box is its flagship AntiVirus feature (see review above), but its firewall will deliver you from several evils, albeit clumsily, and block three specific intrusion attempts: Bonk, RDS_Shell, and WinNuke.

Norton’s Ad Blocking module stops banner ads and pop-ups from clogging up Web pages. The AntiSpam component has three levels, and you can tweak the defaults with your Allowed and Blocked option, e-mail addresses, words, and phrases. Parental controls let you police Websites, newsgroups, and categories of Internet software, such as e-mail, file transfer, instant messaging, and networked games. We found Privacy Control both promising and disturbing, particularly as it lets you block “private information” sent in an e-mail. We chose a word, sent it in an e-mail message, and saw a box pop up and check the outgoing letter, which appeared to go out. We knew from reading the troubleshooting section of the manual (which most folks won’t) that the letter would never reach