An all-around solid defender and efficient performer, Symantec’s Norton Internet Security 2012 ($79.99 for one year and three PCs as of January 25, 2012) comes in second in our 2012 security suites roundup on the strength of its slick, user-friendly interface and its solid malware detection and removal capabilities.
The Norton suite fully blocked all attacks in our real-world tests, which indicate how well security software will protect you against brand-new threats. It also detected 99.94 per cent of known malware samples, the fourth-best result among the 14 products we looked at (the top package, G Data InternetSecurity 2012, achieved a detection rate of greater than 99.99 percent).
In addition, the Norton software detected and deactivated all active malware components in our cleanup tests, and removed all remnants of malware half the time (which is about average). The Norton suite flagged nine known safe files out of 250,000 as being potentially dangerous; that’s quite a low false-positive rate percentage-wise, but it’s higher than average for the suites we tested.
In recent years Norton has claimed that its products won’t slow down PCs, and for the most part that holds true in 2012. This year’s edition added about 3.7 seconds to startup time compared to our test PC with no antivirus software installed, and added about 3.5 seconds to shutdown time. In both cases the Norton package performed somewhat better than average for the suites we tested. We saw the same kind of results in other performance tests, too, as the Norton suite had a lower-than-average impact on overall PC performance across the board.
The Norton package completed our scan tests quickly: It finished an on-demand scan (that is, one that occurs when you click the Scan button manually) of 4.5GB of data in 1 minute, 8 seconds–the second-fastest result in the test group. The on-access scanner (which fires up when you open or save files) completed scanning 4.5GB of files in 2 minutes, 34 seconds; again, that was the second-fastest time among the products we looked at.
We like Norton’s interface, too: It’s clean and well designed, and it installs with a click. Although it isn’t the dead-simplest interface we’ve seen, the main panel is straightforward with a clear status indicator and links to common features. That said, while Norton’s settings panel gives advanced users plenty of options to toggle, it may be a bit much for beginners. Still, in the end, Norton should be friendly enough for most people.
Even though G Data’s suite edged out the Norton one overall in our roundup this year, Norton Internet Security 2012 is a very good option, and is easily worth your consideration.