Norton AntiVirus

Norton AntiVirus
NortonAntiVirus Icon.png
Developer(s) Symantec Corporation
Stable release

2012 or 19.2.0.10 (Windows Edition))[note 1]  (6 September 2011; 2 months ago (2011-09-06))

Notes
  1. ^ Check http://community.norton.com/t5/Norton-Internet-Security-Norton/bd-p/nis_feedback for any update release
[+/−]
Preview release

None


[+/−]
Operating system Microsoft Windows (Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP), Mac OS X, Linux
Type Antivirus
License Proprietary
Website symantec.com/norton/antivirus

Norton AntiVirus, developed and distributed by Symantec Corporation, provides malware prevention and removal during a subscription period. It uses signatures and heuristics to identify viruses. Other features include e-mail spam filtering and phishing protection.

Symantec distributes the product as a download, a box copy, and as OEM software. Norton AntiVirus and Norton Internet Security, a related product, held a 61% US retail market share for security suites as of the first half of 2007. Competitors, in terms of market share in this study, include antivirus products from CA, Trend Micro, and Kaspersky Lab.[1]

Norton AntiVirus runs on Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X. Windows 7 support is in development for versions 2006 through 2008. Version 2009 has Windows 7 supported update already. Versions 2010, 2011, and 2012 all natively support Windows 7, without needing an update. Version 12 is the only version fully compatible with Mac OS X Lion.

Contents

Origins

In May 1989, Symantec launched Symantec Antivirus for the Macintosh (SAM).[2] SAM 2.0, released March 1990, incorporated technology allowing users to easily update SAM to intercept and eliminate new viruses, including many that didn't exist at the time of the program's release.[3]

In August 1990 Symantec acquired Peter Norton Computing from Peter Norton.[4] Norton and his company developed various DOS utilities including the Norton Utilities, which did not include antivirus features. Symantec continued the development of acquired technologies. The technologies are marketed under the name of "Norton", with the tagline "from Symantec". Norton's crossed-arm pose, a registered U.S. trademark, was traditionally featured on Norton product packaging.[5] However, his pose was later moved to the spine of the packaging, and eventually dropped altogether.[6]

By early 1991, U.S. computers were invaded by hundreds of foreign virus strains and corporate PC infection was becoming a serious problem. Symantec's Norton Group launched Norton AntiVirus 1.0 (NAV) for PC and compatible computers.[7] Ads for the product, with suggested retail $129, featured Norton in his crossed-arm pose, wearing a pink shirt and surgical mask covering his nose and mouth.

With the 1998 version 5.0 update, SAM was renamed Norton AntiVirus (NAV) for Macintosh.[8]


Windows edition

Product activation was introduced in Norton AntiVirus 2004, addressing the estimated 3.6 million counterfeit Norton products sold. An alphanumeric code is generated to identify a computer's configuration, which ties in with the product key. Users are allowed to activate their product five times with the same product key.[9] Spyware and adware detection and removal was introduced to the 2005 version, with the tagline "Antispyware Edition".[10] The tagline was dropped in later releases. However, Norton AntiVirus 2009 Classic does not include spyware or adware detection. The Classic edition is marketed alongside Norton AntiVirus 2009, which does include spyware and adware detection.

Existing users of the 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 versions can upgrade to the latest 2010 version without buying a new subscription. Upgrading will preserve the number of days left on a user's subscription.[verification needed][11]

Version 2006 (13.0)

The redesigned main graphical user interface aggregates information in a central user interface.[12] CNET reports the Norton Protection Center, while useful, attempts to advertise additional products. To further facilitate detection of zero-day malware, Bloodhound disassembles a variety of programming languages, and scans code for malicious instructions using predefined algorithms.[13] Internet Explorer homepage hijacking protection was introduced in this release as well; however notably missing is search engine hijacking protection. CNET highlighted Norton AntiVirus 2006's noticeable impact on system performance.[12]

Operating system requirements call for Windows 2000 Service Pack 3 or Windows XP. 150 MB of free space and a 300 MHz processor is required under either operating system. 128 MB of RAM is required under Windows 2000, while 256 MB is required in Windows XP.[12]

Version 2007 (14.0)

Norton AntiVirus was released on September 12, 2006.[14] Symantec revised Norton AntiVirus with the goal of reducing high system resource utilization.[15] Windows Vista compatibility was introduced in this release as well. Despite having about 80% of the code rewritten, CNET reports mixed results in performance testing.[16] New features include a tabbed interface, eliminating the need to have separate windows open for the Norton Protection Center and for configuring the settings.[16] Symantec extended its Veritas VxMS rootkit detection technology, allowing Norton AntiVirus 2007 to inspect files within directories to files on the volume level, detecting abnormalities or inconsistencies.[16]

Windows 2000 compatibility was dropped from this release. Compatibility with 32-bit versions of Windows Vista was added to this release with a patch from Symantec. Hardware requirements under Vista call for 150 MB free space, a 800 MHz processor and 512 MB RAM. Requirements under Windows XP similarly call for 150 MB free space, a 300 MHz processor, and 256 MB of RAM.

Version 2008 (15.0)

Norton AntiVirus 2008 was released on August 28, 2007. Emphasizing malware prevention, new features include SONAR, which looks for suspicious application behavior. This release adds real-time exploit protection, preventing attackers from leveraging common browser and application vulnerabilities.[17][18]

When installed in 32-bit versions of Windows XP Service Pack 2, 300 MB of free space, a 300 MHz processor, and 256 MB of RAM is required. When installed in 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows Vista, 300 MB of free space, a 800 MHz processor, and 256 MB of RAM is needed.

Version 2009 (16.0)

The main user interface of Norton AntiVirus 2009

Norton AntiVirus 2009 was released on September 8, 2008. Addressing performance issues, over 300 changes were made, with a "zero-impact" goal.[19][20] Benchmarking conducted by Passmark Software PTY LTD highlights its 47 second install time, 32 second scan time, and 5 MB memory utilization. It should be noted Symantec funded the benchmark test and provided some scripts used to benchmark each participating antivirus software.[21]

The security status and settings are now displayed in a single main interface. A CPU usage monitor displays the total CPU utilization and Norton's CPU usage in the main interface. Other features include Norton Insight, a whitelisting technology which cuts scanning times by mapping known safe files using information from an online database. [22] To address malware response times, updates are delivered updates 5 to 15 minutes. However, such updates are not tested by Symantec, and may cause false positives, or incorrectly identify files as malicious. The exploit scanner found in the 2007 and 2008 versions was dropped from this release.

When installed in 32-bit versions of Windows XP Service Pack 2, 150 MB of free space, a 300 MHz processor, and 256 MB of RAM is required. When installed in 32-bit or 64-bit versions of Windows Vista, 150 MB of free space, a 800 MHz processor, and 512 MB of RAM is required.

Gaming and Classic editions

Two variations on Norton AntiVirus 2009 are also marketed by Symantec. The Gaming edition provides finer control over when Norton downloads updates and allows components of the suite to be disabled either manually or automatically when the computer enters full-screen mode.

The Classic edition cannot find or remove adware and spyware.

Version 2010 (17.0)

The main GUI of Norton AntiVirus 2010

Version 17.0 was released on September 9, 2009.[23] Several features have been updated in this release, including SONAR, now dubbed SONAR 2. It now uses more information to determine if an application is truly malicious. Norton Insight can present users with information about the origins, activities, and performance of applications along with reputation data.[23] A new feature codenamed Autospy helps users understand what Norton did when malware was found. Previous releases removed threats on sight and quietly warned users, potentially confusing when users are deceived in downloading rogue security software. Much of this information is placed on the back of the main window; a toggle button switches between the sides.[24] Symantec has also added Windows 7 support. Aside from that, Symantec has also added the Norton Download Insight to prevent drive by drive downloads.

Version 2011 (18.0)

The main GUI of Norton AntiVirus 2011
The old Norton logo before the merger.

Norton Internet Security 2011 was released for Beta testing on April 21, 2010. Changes include a new user interface and improved scanning of internet sites for malware. With the 2011 version, Symantec also released an application that "scans" the user's Facebook feed for any malware links. This application does not require a valid subscription.[25] In a test sponsored[26] by Symantec, Norton Internet Security 2011 was the only security suite to ever achieve a 100 percent protection score in a new third-party test from Dennis Labs.[27] Improved reputation scan provides the user with an easy to understand interface on files stored on the user's computer. Marking them as trusted, good, poor, or bad.[28] The final version of Norton Internet Security 2011 was released on August 31, 2010. New features in version 2011 also include Norton Rescue Tools. These tools include Norton Bootable Recovery tool and Norton Power Eraser.[29]

On December 9, 2010, Symantec released the 18.5 version through Norton LiveUpdate. However, this update was later pulled due to numerous reports on the Norton forums that the update is causing system instability and freeze ups during system scans (both full and quick scans). This issue only affect some customers. Users affected by this update are advised to uninstall the product, run the Norton Removal Tool, and reinstall the 18.1 version from http://www.norton.com/nis11. Norton later fixed the bugs and re-released the update.[30]

Following the acquisition of VeriSign Security by Norton's parent company Symantec, several of VeriSign's features were incorporated into the 2011 edition. The new product features a new Norton logo which uses the VeriSign checkmark formerly seen in VeriSign's own logo, as well as several new icon changes to the Norton Safe Web and Norton Identity Safe features.

Version 2012 (19.0)

Released on September 6, 2011, Norton Internet Security 2012 brought new features.[31] One of the new features that was included with the new program is Download Insight 2.0, which not only monitor files for safety but also the stability of a given file. That means that If a file is stable on Windows 7, but unstable on Windows XP, XP users will be notified for the instability of the file.

Also, integration with specialised removal tools is added, for better cleanup of already infected systems. A new smaller and more effective version of Norton power eraser is launched to assist in removal of fake antivirus software and other deeply-embedded threats that are otherwise hard to remove. A new tool called Norton Management helps manage different computers and devices equipped with Norton software from a single location.

Another feature added with this release is Sonar 4. Another welcome change is that identity Safe and Safe Web are finally compatible with Google Chrome and all the passwords and notes can be stored in the cloud should the user wishes.

The user interface is also simplified with only three buttons. The third button opens a more advanced and complicated UI, where the user is able to manage settings and access different product features. The CPU meter, a long-time supported and loved feature, that was removed from Norton 2011, also makes a return (only on the "advanced screen").

Combining the netbook and desktop line, Norton Internet Security intergrates Bandwidth metering, which controls product's traffic usage and takes it down to minimum if necessary. This is ideal for networks with limited traffic. Also, the user interface window adjust accordingly to the size of the computer screen.

This version of Norton Internet Security includes several easter eggs. Pressing Shift+1, 2, 3 or 4 would change the theme to default background (plain black), ray, animals, and floral respectively. Also holding CTRL + WinKey + Alt while pressing "performance buton" to activate "Crazy Flip", which will make the window flip head over heels. The effect would continue until the main window is closed and reopened.

In addition scans are no-longer scheduled through the Windows Task Scheduler, but through the Symantec's more advanced one, which waits for the user to stop using the keyboard and mouse (e.g. leaves the PC) and then performs tasks.

Overall Blocking and Removal of Malware

Pc mag tested 2012 on 9/26/11. They gave it a Pc Editor's choice award though the users gave it a 2 star software. The readers said that Norton Antivirus usually gets an award, but due to many false positives, not thorough removal of easy malware, and high updates Av Test gave it an okay score making it go below Panda Pro 2012, Kaspersky Antivirus 2012, and Bitdefender Plus 2012 in detection and blocking of malware. Norton blocked 89% of active zero day threats, but users couldn't tell whether the malware was neutrilized or not because of the interface.

Macintosh edition

Norton AntiVirus 11 for Mac introduced support for Mac OS X v10.5 Leopard platform, with the capability to detect both Macintosh and Windows malware. Other features include a vulnerability scanner, which blocks attackers from leveraging software exploits.[32] Norton AntiVirus 11 also includes the ability to scan within compressed or archived files, such as Time Capsule volumes. Operating requirements call for Mac OS X Tiger.[33] A PowerPC or an Intel Core processor, 128 MB of RAM, and 100 MB of free hard disk space are also required. Norton AntiVirus Dual Protection for Mac is intended for Macintosh users with Windows running on their systems, using Boot Camp or virtualization software such as VMWare Fusion. It provides a license for both Norton AntiVirus 11 with Norton AntiVirus 2009.[34][35]

Norton vs. others

Performance and protection capabilites

From the 2009 to 2012 editions, Symantec made huge changes to their products' speed and performance. Norton products now have only 2 running processes, using about 24 mb of RAM.[36] According to PassMark Security Benchmark 2012 Norton AntiVirus and Norton Internet Security are the lightest suites available. Av-comparatives.org also tested these products and give similar results.[37] PCMag recognises 2011 and 2012 lines as the fastest and strongest in protection.[38] PCWorld's tests of security software put Norton Internet Security 2009 on the 1-st place.[39] In 2011's test of PCWorld Norton Internet Security was the winner. Av-test.org certifies Norton, putting it on a second place after BitDefender. Kaspersky detected less, but then blocked more thoroughly. [40]. Many other reputable sources like Dennis Technology Labs confirm the performance and effectivness of Norton 2011 and 2012 lines.[41]

Disadvantages of older versions before 2009

FBI cooperation

The FBI confirmed the active development of Magic Lantern, a keylogger intended to obtain passwords to encrypted e-mail and other documents during criminal investigations. Magic Lantern was first reported in the media by Bob Sullivan of MSNBC on 20 November 2001 and by Ted Bridis of the Associated Press.[42][43] The FBI intends to deploy Magic Lantern in the form of an e-mail attachment. When the attachment is opened, it installs a trojan horse on the suspect's computer, which is activated when the suspect uses PGP encryption, often used to increase the security of sent e-mail messages. When activated, the trojan will log the PGP password, which allows the FBI to decrypt user communications.[44][45] Symantec and other major antivirus vendors have whitelisted the Magic Lantern trojan, rendering their antivirus products, including Norton AntiVirus, incapable of detecting it. Concerns around this whitelisting include uncertainties about Magic Lantern's full surveillance potential and whether hackers could subvert it and redeploy it for purposes outside of law enforcement.[46][47]

Graham Cluley, a technology consultant from Sophos, said "We have no way of knowing if it was written by the FBI, and even if we did, we wouldn’t know whether it was being used by the FBI or if it had been commandeered by a third party".[48] Another reaction came from Marc Maiffret, chief technology officer and cofounder of eEye Digital Security who states: "Our customers are paying us for a service, to protect them from all forms of malicious code. It is not up to us to do law enforcement's job for them so we do not, and will not, make any exceptions for law enforcement malware or other tools."[49]

Proponents of Magic Lantern argue the technology would allow law enforcement to efficiently and quickly decrypt time-sensitive messages protected by encryption schemes. Implementing Magic Lantern does not require physical access to a suspect's computer, unlike Carnivore, a predecessor to Magic Lantern, since physical access to a computer would require a court order.[50] FBI spokesman Paul Bresson, in response to a question about whether Magic Lantern also needed a court order to deploy, would only say "Like all technology projects or tools deployed by the FBI it would be used pursuant to the appropriate legal process."[51][52]

Updates kill legitimate software

On January 28, 2010 Symantec Anti-virus update marked Spotify as a Trojan Horse disabling the software across millions of PCs. [1] [2]

Product support

Retail customers report slow and indifferent service on bugs. Examples include a faulty error message stating current subscriptions had expired.[53] Users received an error stating "Your virus protection cannot be updated." This error occurred after an update to the software and refused to allow daily updates.[53] Though the bug was reported in 2004, it was not corrected for the 2005 or 2006 versions.

Another incident occurred in May 2007, when Norton Antivirus flagged components of the Pegasus e-mail client as malicious, rendering the program corrupted.[54] Symantec customer service addressed the problem by running through a checklist of troubleshooting steps which were not always successful.

Faulty update

On July 25, 2006, Symantec released a faulty update for Norton AntiVirus 2006 users. Users reported an onscreen message stating "Norton AntiVirus 2006 does not support the repair feature. Please uninstall and reinstall.".[55] Symantec claimed the faulty update was downloaded to customers between 1:00 PM and 7:00 PM on July 25, 2006. Symantec developed a workaround tool and has listed troubleshooting steps, available here. The company released a statement, stating they expected to deliver a repair patch to affected users by Monday, July 31, 2006." [56]

Uninstallation

Norton AntiVirus has been criticized for refusing to uninstall completely, leaving unnecessary files behind.[57][58] Another issue is versions prior to 2009 installed LiveUpdate, which updates Norton-branded software, separately. The user must uninstall both Norton AntiVirus and the LiveUpdate component manually. The LiveUpdate component is purposely left behind to update other Norton-branded products, if present.[59] In response, Symantec developed the Norton Removal Tool to remove leftover registry keys and values along with files and folders.[60] However, neither route of uninstallation will remove subscription data, preserved to prevent users from installing multiple trial copies.

Incompatibilities with ZoneAlarm

Norton AntiVirus 2007 will not install alongside ZoneAlarm. This incompatibility has caused annoyance for Norton customers who purchased Norton AntiVirus 2007 with no prior warning or notice of the incompatibility.[61] Symantec recommends removing ZoneAlarm, then reinstalling it with its Internet Worm Protection feature disabled, which controls what applications can access the Internet and which protocols they can use to do so.

PIFTS.exe

On March 9, 2009, some users of Norton AntiVirus 2006 and 2007 experienced a firewall warning stating a Norton-associated file, "PIFTS.exe", was trying to connect to the Internet.[62] Although this file was revealed to be a harmless diagnostic patch, the program gained attention in the media when Symantec removed posts from their forum concerning PIFTS. With no information available about the purpose of the program there was speculation that the program was malware or a backdoor.[63]

The SANS Internet Storm Center claimed to have spoken to a Symantec employee who has confirmed that "the program is theirs, part of the update process and not intended to do harm."[64] Graham Cluley, a consultant from antivirus vendor Sophos found PIFTS connected to a Symantec server, forwarding product and computer information.[65]

On March 10, Symantec made an official response to the PIFTS program, claiming posts in the support forum were deleted due to forum spam rules; however the deletion of PIFTS-related posts began before the spam attacks.[66] Symantec stated PIFTS itself was a diagnostic patch.[63] Cole stated the purpose of the update was to help determine how many customers would need to be migrated to Windows 7-compatible versions of Norton AntiVirus. PIFTS apparently was released without a digital signature to verify its identity, causing firewalls to prompt for permission when it attempted to connect to the Internet.[67]

Consumer complaints

Symantec has been criticized by some consumers for perceived ethical violations, including allegations that support technicians would tell customers that their systems were infected and needed a technician to resolve it remotely for an extra fee, then refuse to refund when the customers alleged their systems had not actually been infected.[68]

See also

References

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  2. ^ SAM Identifies Virus-Infected Files, Repairs Applications, InfoWorld, May 22, 1989
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