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PC Reviews: Norton Internet Security 2004 & Norton Internet Security 2004 Professional Edition

"Computer virus, years ago it could have sounded like a joke, a computer with a cold. "

Norton is one of the names that come to mind when you think about virus protection and internet security. These days more than ever you run a huge risk with out some kind of computer protection all the nasties that the unknowns on the internet can spawn. 

Symantec Corp is one of the world leaders in Internet security, the stable of computer security features has grown with Norton Internet Security 2004. This is an Online Internet security and privacy suite for either home or office users, providing protection against the normal Internet threats one may run into, but now its protection has expanded against spyware and those pesky unwanted spam emails. 

The suite includes Norton antivirus, firewall, intrusion detection, privacy protection, spam filtering, and content filtering solutions all in one integrated package. As with most suites most of the package content can be purchased separately depending on the users needs, though this suite is designed to have it all in one quick purchase. 

Any user that is connected to the internet and especially those with always on broadband run a great risk of being a victim of an internet attack to their systems.  Symantec is just one of those companies that make it easier for a computer user to secure their system from such threats. 

Computer virus, years ago it could have sounded like a joke, a computer with a cold.  The term these days depending on the severity and depending on how many systems it causes damage to it can make the news world wide, the types of viruses out there are staggering. Having some kind of software to help combat any possible infections to your system and its files is a must.

That is where Norton Internet Security 2004 comes in. This valuable software suite includes Antivirus 2004 with its expanded threat detection. It actually uses a new technology that can identify non virus threats such as spyware and adware as well as keystroke logging programs. These are just some of the applications that can compromise a computer by getting into users confidential data and track users online habits on where they go on the web. Norton software helps put a stop to this.

Norton AntiVirus 2004 also helps protect a user from file exchange services like peer to peer networks. It scans for viruses in all compressed file archives, all incoming and outgoing email is checked and it can even automatically remove viruses, Trojans and Worms and block the ones that can be hidden in email and instant message attachments. There is also something new that Norton implements, it’s a Worm and script blocking technology. This feature defends users against not only the known threats, but unknown ones as well.

Norton Internet Security 2004 further includes the new Norton AntiSpam 2004, which automatically detects and filters out unwanted commercial email, or spam, at the desktop. Let’s face it, Spam is the number one time consumer and hurts your work production, even if you don’t sit there and open every one to check it. Hitting that delete button over and over again eats up your valuable time. The AntiSpam part of the suite does its job almost with out any effort from the user. It meshes with Outlook, Eudora and Outlook Express by adding a simple menu and toolbar for tagging messages. It moves all tagged messages to the AntiSpam folder within the email client giving the user to just double check to see if the email is in fact spam. Or it can be set to just delete the Spam from the server. In the end users are able to get the emails they want while effectively filtering out any unwanted messages.

Norton Internet Security 2004 includes Norton Personal Firewall 2004 as well. A good Firewall is the first line of defense against hackers. Norton Personal Firewall 2004 is a real boon to the user, even more so to laptop users. Regardless of the network a laptop user connects to the program adjusts its settings. Even if a user connects to multiple networks on and off they get the same degree of protection. If there are any problems the software also has Firewall controls that can be adjusted. This is some serious software that I went ahead and tested out by going to other sites that sell different Firewall and security software. On these sites they have a security test section that when used it tries to check your computer to see how well what ever you’re using, is actually protecting your computer. Each time Norton seemed to work just fine. Of course these sites give a sales pitch for their own products with the security check, but none of them out right said that the system was unsecured. This was checked by turning the Firewall off on occasion and checking the results. The firewall tests gave the appropriate response when the Firewall was turned off.

On top of all of this Norton Internet Security 2004 includes privacy protection. This feature prevents confidential information from being sent without user authorization to unsecured Web sites or through email, Microsoft Office attachments, and instant messaging services. Additionally there is a tamper proof password protection feature that prevents the security settings from being turned off manually or by a Trojan horse virus.

Norton is also family friendly; it gives parents the ability to keep their children away from inappropriate material. It does this by blocking access to newsgroups and web sites that may have subjects that are not suited for children. There are several degrees of flexibility in the program enabling parents to set up different access privileges. It does have default settings for children but it can also be set for access levels suited for teens and adults. The price of protection comes with a slow loading filter list of sites, the categories range from tobacco and alcohol, travel, gambling, drugs and pornographic sites.

What’s the use of such software if you cannot stay up to date? As is the norm these days Symantec’s automatic Live Update makes sure that the products stay current with all the recent protection updates and technology. A user gets one free year of updates with purchase and at the end of that can purchase further updates on a year to year basis. 

The suite also incorporates a product activation component. This component helps prevent use of pirated software or counterfeit activation or license keys. Product Activation is a technology designed to protect users from pirated or counterfeit software by limiting use of a product to those users who have acquired a license to the product legitimately.  

The activation process requires a unique product key upon installing the software on your system. Users who own a packaged product are required to enter the Product Key during installation. This is a key of either numbers, letter or often mixed and can be located on the back of the CD sleeve. If you downloaded direct from the Symantec store online, you won’t need to manually enter the key at all. The key is stored on the user’s computer as part of the download. 

An activation wizard that is built into the software walks a user through the whole activation process.  Now here is where the fun begins, you have a certain amount of time to use your activation key, 15 days to be exact and if you do not activate within that time the program will cease working. Once you activate it, the program will start to function again.  When the wizard is running it also gives the user the chance to register the product. If you do not have an internet connection, (one would ask why even have the suites if you are not on the net. But bringing home files from a friend’s computer or the office would still merit some kind of virus protection.)  Product activation can even be carried out over the phone. If that fails for what ever reason a user can contact the Symantec’s customer support center to complete the activation. 

There is also a professional version of this suite and it gives a few extra perks. The professional version comes with Norton Personal FireWall 2004. This suite has all the components of Norton Internet Security 2004 but also includes some advanced features geared towards small offices or home office users and professionals. Including data recovery technology that can protect and restore applications and files from a deletion or virus damage. Data cleaning technology also eliminates all traces of unneeded confidential files. There are ghosts of images on the computers hard drive even after a deletion so this tool itself can come in real handy.  

There are also advanced Web tools that can delete unwanted files left over from an internet session and can also prevent dial up internet sessions from being interrupted. Norton Internet Security 2004 Professional also has tools for an administrator to create multiple user profiles and limit internet access to certain types of web sites. For the small office the professional version is available as a single license or a 5 and 10 user pack license.

Now as we tested this on both a WIN XP system and an older Win 98 and 2000 system only one had some issues. The system for WIN 98 was the hardest installation we ever ran across. Support will in a typical suggestion advice for a clean reinstall. After doing so it ran fine.

Depending on what operating system you’re running there are different minimum requirements.

Windows XP 300mhz or higher processor, 128 megs of RAM,   Windows 2000 133 MHz or higher processor and 96 MB of  RAM, Windows ME needs 150mhz or higher processor and 96 MB of RAM, WINDOWS 98 needs 133 MHz or higher and at least 64 MB of RAM.  The Requirements for all installations are 200 MB of available hard drive space, DVD or CD-ROM drive, Internet Explorer (minimum version 5.01 SP2 required), 

Email scanning supported for standard POP3 and SMTP compatible email clients.

Supported instant messaging clients for virus scanning

AOL® Instant Messenger (minimum version 4.7 required), Yahoo® Instant Messenger (minimum version 5.0 required), MSN® Messenger (versions 4.6, 4.7), Windows® Messenger (minimum version 4.6 required)

Supported instant messaging clients for private information blocking

AOL Instant Messenger (minimum version 4.3 required), Yahoo Instant Messenger (minimum version 5.0 required), MSN Messenger and Windows Messenger (minimum version 3.6 required)

For a good install there are some basic steps that should be done of course. Download all Microsoft critical updates, Scan hard drives for spyware and remove them,

If you’re running Windows XP FireWall switch this off.  This built in FireWall is called Internet Connection FireWall. To shut it off, click Start, Control Panel, Network Connections and Internet Connections. Highlight the connection and click change settings of this connection under the network tasks menu on the left (or right click the connection and click properties.) In the properties window, click the Advanced tab and uncheck mark the Protect My Computer And Network checkbox. Click OK and that’s it.

Empty the recycle bin, Uninstall the older version of Norton OR other Virus Software you had, because if you have two virus soft wares running there is a chance they will cancel each other out and just leave the door open for any virus to decimate your computer.

Now begin the install and run a pre-install virus scan before installing the software, after that just register online and allow LiveUpdate to check for and download any updates and that’s it.

For those that do not have a Spyware software to get rid of those pesky information gathering softwares… To scan/remove spyware I downloaded the excellent Adware 6 utility which is free for home users.  Check on the internet using the keyword Adware.

The Norton Internet Security 2004 suites are both powerful tools, but like any tool if you don’t use it right it just won’t do the job for you. Learn about the software and your needs to best configure it for ease of use and protection. Sometimes full protection can get annoying to a user but just think of the trade off. Security and internet safety as opposed to a virus destroying your system from the inside out.

The Norton Internet Security 2004 and Professional are both Top Ace.

After all with out your system how can you play games?

Edwin Millheim

Have fun, play games.

The Final Say!


Norton Internet Security 2004 (Standard & Professional Edition)
Review Date: February 2004
Distributor: Symantec

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