Billed as delivering a faster and more streamlined edition of Norton's acclaimed protection platform, Internet Security 2009 (NIS 09) had a lot to live up to given that my previous 'general user' experiences with Norton products had been distinctly user-unfriendly and not all that impressive in terms of performance and efficiency.
First impressions were fairly good, with NIS 09 installing considerably quicker than I was expecting, taking around three to four minutes without the hassle of ploughing through layers of advanced setting options. Once officially registered, the software's (customisable) main interface appears, offering a dashboard of easy to peruse controls and also access to a handy and in-depth help portfolio covering the entire program.
Already feeling a little more well laid out and user-friendly than prior Norton offerings, it's not difficult to get to grips with NIS 09's three core sections: Computer, Internet and Identity, which in turn offer up the likes of scan history, system scan options, live updates, quarantined files, firewall options, e-mail scanning, anti-phishing and more.
As the product's title suggests, Norton's package attempts to cover pretty much all the bases when it comes to malicious attacks capable of infecting or grabbing control of your system, bombarding you with spam, or even stealing your personal details. But how does it perform when push comes to shove?
A big plus point for this reviewer was the immediate improved speed of NIS 09's scanning, which ran through the whole computer in a matter of minutes (of course, speed will differ per user based on the amount of files that require scanning). However, it remains to be seen whether that efficiency is maintained over time, which is something that blighted my last encounter with Norton-branded protection.
In terms of scanning for all types of malware (worms, Trojans, and the like), NIS 09 seemed to perform well in general but struggled a little when attempting to scan through password-protected files. And, when tasked with blocking known malicious Web sites, it caught most but surprisingly turned a blind eye to one or two such destinations well known for being dangerous to unwitting computer systems.
Thanks to its user-implemented spam detection and filtration feature, NIS 09 is able to monitor a user's e-mail account for any unwanted activity, and Norton's latest package certainly seems more than capable of assisting in rooting out unwanted and potentially harmful inbox fluff. As a bonus layer of protection, an additional instant messaging scan is also available, which scrutinises any files downloaded through IM clients such as AIM, Yahoo, and MSN Messenger.
Ultimately, as with any mainstream system protection software, Norton Internet Security 2009 - 1 User 3 Computers (PC) provides relatively solid performance that works hard to block the Net's myriad of threats and improve the overall stability of the user's experience. Granted, it won't deflect everything that nefarious Web criminals throw at it, but there isn't a product available that guarantees such performance and NIS 09 is a marked improvement over its Norton predecessors.
Easy to use. Offers more layered scanning and security than previous Norton solutions. Regular live updating keeps protection sharp edged. Provides a convincingly comprehensive blanket for typical home users. Mainstream protection at an affordable mainstream price. Norton finally appears to be shaking its reputation for being fiddly and a little underwhelming. I'm almost converted.