Security

Norton AntiVirus 2009 with Antispyware gets the job done

Windows users face an unprecedented and skyrocketing number of threats from a widening variety of sources. IT Consultant Erik Eckel reviews Norton AntiVirus 2009 With AntiSpyware as a potential solution in one all-inclusive software package.

Microsoft Windows users face an unprecedented and skyrocketing number of threats from a widening variety of sources. New virus and spyware programs are appearing at an alarming rate. In September 2008, Kaspersky Lab reported that the number of virus, adware, Trojan, and other malicious programs tripled during the first six months of 2008 versus the previous six months. In all, the lab's statistics indicate that some 440,311 new malware programs appeared from January through June, compared to just 136,953 for the preceding six months.

Malware programs continue to mutate; many take advantage of social networking sites, which make it easier to distribute infections via simple e-mail messages supposedly sent by trusted friends.

From dangerous rootkits to continually evolving viruses and spyware, Windows users require an anti-malware application that provides effective protection without robbing a system of its computing capacity. Of course, no single program or application is capable of completely protecting a Windows user from all threats, but some applications are better than others.

This blog post is also available in PDF format in a TechRepublic download. See Norton AntiVirus 2009 with AntiSpyware in action in the accompanying TechRepublic Photo Gallery.

The tool

Norton AntiVirus 2009 with AntiSpyware simplifies what's becoming an evermore complicated process. Norton's newest antivirus software provides effective antivirus, antispyware, anti-rootkit, and browser and intrusion protection without overly cannibalizing system capacity.

Just as malware threats are constantly changing -- Lavasoft estimates that typical Zlob Trojans mutate every 15-60 minutes to avoid detection -- so, too, must security software maintain pace. Norton AntiVirus 2009 with Antispyware features rapid pulse updates that update antivirus signatures every 5 to 15 minutes.

Norton's antivirus application, redesigned in 2008 and tweaked in 2009, also boasts a simple interface. While possessing deep customization capabilities, the software, out-of-the-box, is easy to load and operate. That's critical, especially for less technical users whose systems often become compromised using less effective security software and then feed botnets that work to infect countless others.

Compared to other popular antivirus applications, Norton AntiVirus 2009 with AntiSpyware boasts several advantages:

  • Accurate antivirus, antispyware, and anti-rootkit engines
  • Frequent signature updates
  • Outstanding performance
  • Automatic e-mail and instant messaging protection
  • Thorough bot, browser, and worm protection
  • Simple interaction and reporting features

The real world

As a small business technology consultant, I regularly troubleshoot, repair, and recover infected systems. Working with a wide variety of computers from a wide variety of organizations, not too mention numerous residential clients, I have considerable real-world experience with all the leading antivirus applications as well as many lesser known security programs favored by an organization's or client's previous computer technician.

Prior to 2008, it was my experience that Norton security products, including its Internet security and system suites, did not provide adequate protection. I also found older versions consumed far too great a share of system resources. When I tested Norton's 2008 antivirus software on a Windows Vista machine, I was very impressed with its performance. I wrote my opinions, and boy, did the TechRepublic community respond.

It was clear, from those responses, that many TechRepublic readers had also experienced some of the same issues I had with Norton's older products. But the 2008 version proved quite different, and after a year of using the product I feel my comments held up very well.

With the release of the 2009 version, I continue to believe Norton AntiVirus 2009 with Antispyware is the right tool for fighting viruses and spyware. While the application may not be the most potent program for removing existing infections (any IT professional with a modicum of experience knows a variety of diagnosis and removal tools, utilities, strategies, and methods are required depending on the nature and number of infections), Norton's newest antivirus offering is as capable as any I've seen. Further, Norton's high performance holds true; this program does not cannibalize system resources.

Last year, I also wrote about one drawback, namely, the need for an uninstallation tool when Norton antivirus products fail or require removal. Since then I've found this is almost a universal truth; numerous major antivirus manufacturers, including TrendMicro, McAfee and ESET, distribute and maintain removal tools for those occasions when their products fail or become corrupted. That's just an unfortunate necessity when using antivirus and antispyware programs.

On those occasions when I've attempted a hurried fix and connected a client system to my main network (instead of my test network), the Norton antivirus engine on my main production system has done its job. On several occasions it caught and contained threats, including a heinous W32 virus that jumped from a client's PC to my thumb-drive (prompting me to use only CDs now when troubleshooting client systems). Further, Norton AntiVirus has effectively spotted compromising utilities within a special disk partition I maintain for my own network discovery, wireless probing, and password-recovery utilities.

One other real-world item to note is licensing. In last year's Norton Right Tool discussion, some technology professionals recommended simply using free versions of AVG's or Avira's antivirus tools. In many cases, that's illegal. AVG (and Avira) clearly state in the accompanying license agreements that those products are limited to one installment per household and that the software cannot be used in any business or commercial (including nonprofit) capacity.

Organizations with systems and data to protect should always deploy legal, licensed software. In addition to eliminating legal liability, the professional-licensed versions of these software packages offer other benefits, such as customizable scans and more frequent database updates.

Conclusion

Norton AntiVirus 2009 with AntiSpyware continues improving upon significant advancements made to Norton's antivirus lineup in 2008. In addition to effective, accurate detection and containment, the 2009 edition of Norton's antivirus software consumes few system resources.

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About

Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president o...

35 comments
sofian.elsherif
sofian.elsherif

I THINK NOD32 is more better than Norton products and i can proof that :)

XnavyDK
XnavyDK

I think buying the upgrade every year is a waste. These companies have people over a barrel and they just buy it because of fear that the older software wont work or the company stops supplying updates. look at turbo tax, same deal, new year same software, diff tax laws. How about update the software, why make me buy a repeat. I think this for everything. Buy a new car because the tires wear out. I use Symantec ep on my network, it runs fine. If I need to spend 10k every year for a new model because they changed the GUI, I'll go elsewhere. I wont be upgrading every year new software comes out. hardware yes software no. its a vicious circle we are caught up in.

neil.bandt
neil.bandt

For the first time ever - since 1995 - I switched from McAfee to Norton 2008. I have been very happy with Norton's performance and will upgrade to 2009.

cookrd1
cookrd1

Nortorn, Kapersky, McAfee, etc are virtually useless against the best new malware, especially zero-day attacks. Suggest use of a good HIPS product such as eEye Blink. My new notebook came with Norton. I did not realize that when it is turned on, that wifi is also turned on by default. Next thing I knew, I was being served up spam in IE. Reinstalled Vista from the recovery drive, installed Blink, and THEN turned on sifi and no more problems. Bob

WTRTHS
WTRTHS

...one must almost apologize when saying he likes the new version of Norton. I haven't had much experience with it, so I'll not say anything about Norton's new version. However, what we all know, but sometimes fail to remember: software and it's makers can evolve. It's not because you preferred X over Y 5 years ago, you should stick to X today without further research or testing. Both have probably evolved, both in front or behind the screens. X might just have introduced a new flashy GUI, while Y might run on a totally different engine. And sometimes PC's do get infected. But that might not only be dependant on the anti virus, but on the os, the firewall, the users and their behaviour, and even on third party applications introducing new security holes. Maybe X catches A and Y does not, but Y might as well catch B while X does not. Same goes obviously for hardware. Some people prefer a certain brand over another, but that doesn't mean a hard disk from brand A crashes less often than a hard disk of brand B. Even if it does, maybe brand B realized what it has done wrong, and corrects the error in a subsequent release.

BALTHOR
BALTHOR

There's no serious push against virus.The current anti virus brands all have International headquarters so there is no incentive to stop virus.Ten engineers in a room would say:"Well how does a computer work?"and give up.Then there's writing the software.You might expect a military written program to stop all virus but nobody can write software.Computers are hit hard by terrorists and we're stuck.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

In recent years, Norton Antivirus has often been labeled a problem anti-virus protection application suite for its tendency to use an unacceptable amount of computer resources. Is that still true with the most recent versions of the software? Do you recommend Norton or do you prefer some other application? Which one?

Erik Eckel
Erik Eckel

I've encountered trouble on some NOD32-protected systems that Norton subsequently found and fixed. To be fair, you can say that about almost any antivirus software, though. I find Norton's channel distribution a little easier to accommodate, though, than ESET's. I'm just speaking from real-world reseller experience in which I must support a wide variety of clients.

ElijahKam
ElijahKam

If you don't upgrade, you still need to pay for a subscription to get Norton's updates. The subscription can cost more than an upgrade when a store offers a special price. I once bought one copy of Norton 360 for just the sales tax because of two rebate coupons. As for system resources, Norton 360 does slow down my old computer(512 KB memory), and takes almost four minutes to power up. But on my "modern"computer, Norton does not cause any slowdown.

noto747
noto747

i do not care about how much is upgrade for all anti virus BUT the thing is 90% is using hacked license correct me if im wrong i am using 2009 antivirus with license but i never pay them coz always hacked WHY CAN'T all anti virus so easy to hack their license PM me i will give you crack for you to update your no virus just to by pass thier money hahahha

jlorimer
jlorimer

I run a IT Consulting company, our field engineers spend the most time on system cleanups after they have been infected. The statistics from the field that we gather show the worst infected machines have NAV installed, then McAfee, then AVG. It continues to drop massively as you move into other vendors with Trend, Kaspersky/Zone Alarm and Blink as the least systems we see in the field that have infections.

Erik Eckel
Erik Eckel

How true you are when you say "Maybe X catches A and Y does not, but Y might as well catch B while X does not." As a consultant, I regularly clean heavily infected systems. I've found the best method, especially when battling spyware, is to load a system with a strong antivirus/antispyware program and a second standalone antispyware application (such as MalwareBytes, Spybot S&D and Sunbelt Software's Counterspy). Since Norton upgraded its engine in 2008 (and refined it in their 2009 product), I've found systems with Norton Antivirus with Antispyware encounter far fewer troubles than many other programs, though.

XnavyDK
XnavyDK

I think buying the upgrade every year is a waste. These companies have people over a barrel and they just buy it because of fear that the older software wont work or the company stops supplying updates. look at turbo tax, same deal, new year same software, diff tax laws. How about update the software, why make me buy a repeat. I think this for everything. Buy a new car because the tires wear out. I use Symantec ep on my network, it runs fine. If I need to spend 10k every year for a new model because they changed the GUI, I'll go elsewhere. I wont be upgrading every year new software comes out. hardware yes software no. its a vicious circle we are caught up in. heh i meant to post this under the original post.. SIGH.

Wcoyote1
Wcoyote1

Actually, they need to change the name to Norton Virus. It seems that this "cure" is as bad or worse than the symptoms. Effectively, you're fighting a virus with a virus. The only difference being is that one you agree with and the others you don't.

WoW > Work
WoW > Work

It must be the "in thing" to do, bash Norton just because it's Symantec. It's been years since most nay-sayers have tried it, I'm sure. NAV 2009 (NIS, as I've been using) is beyond just better than previous incarnations. My system is much faster than before, when using previous versions of NAV or NIS. Plus, AV comparitives show it's doing very well against other AV products, so no, it doesn't suck...really.

RNR1995
RNR1995

NAV is crowing about it latest version being lighter and faster, I have upgraded anyone that has had the Norton 360 for free and the new version is smoother. Omly time will tell

verd
verd

Norton is a huge aircraft carrier that is to big to fit through the Panama Canal. All you need to sink an ememy ship is a PT boat like AVG. I have had to use AVG to clean out viruses because Norton got creamed by and disabled by viruses. (Yes it was updated) I do not use Norton OR recommend it. A once really good program now sucks. And one more thing is that Norton Internet Security is the WORSE computer program ever made. Countless times fixing a computer and finding out that it was NIS that was the problem. Whenever I see that on someones computer it is the first thing I do is get rid of it. Norton used to be good As Degeneration X says "We got two words for ya Norton...SUCK IT

SKDTech
SKDTech

But being somewhat savvy I came to dislike a product I once loved as Symantec gradually made the program more and more unfriendly to the people who have a modicum of knowledge and ability to operate a computer beyond typing up a document in Word or browsing the web. I have since come to use Avast as my main protection with occasional scans from other antivirus/spyware utilities such as ClamAV and SpybotS&D. So far I have not had one problems since the switch(knock on wood). Of course I have also managed to teach those in my family who are not tech savvy not to blindly click links and the few popups that get through.

.Martin.
.Martin.

is a bit like Vista Everyone expect something great, but it is still a bloated hole :D

StealthWiFi
StealthWiFi

With a forum full of savy tech users I did not think I would ever see a Norton AV plug on here. That said Norton still sucks, and probably always will. Trend Micro beats them hands down with Panda and a few others just as good. For free stuff AVG is ok but Avast has found more infections on test boxes than AVG. If you want a quad core PC to run like it has a single core and 256mb or RAM then use Norton Cheers,

Erik Eckel
Erik Eckel

Were you to subscribe to this mentality within your organization, you'd expose the company to liability. The Business Software Alliance regularly audits organizations (more than 1,600 in a few years) and sends well trained legal counsel armed wth enforceable warrants and court orders. Fines can tally as high as $150,000 per each software title. Further, the BSA has generated legal settlements exceeding US$16.5 million in just three years or so. Those shouldn't be the reasons you need to properly license your software, though. You should license software properly simply because it's the professional (and right) thing to do.

XnavyDK
XnavyDK

You can, doesn't mean you should. You would steal from your mother and father? Ang iyong kung sino ang tatay? Software Piracy is just as morally reprehensible as being one of those pirates from somalia.

jswinberlin
jswinberlin

Could it be that there are more systems with the top two AV software progarms on them than the others?

Erik Eckel
Erik Eckel

The National Cyber Security Alliance once published the results of a study that showed 67 percent of those surveyed were using outdated antivirus software. Some 63% of the survey's respondents reported having been infected by a virus in the last year. Coincidence? For less than $20-$40 a desktop, depending upon the licensing deal you can wrangle, current antivirus and antispyware software strikes me as no brainer. This is especially true when I consider how much time and money clients would save if they kept their AV protection current. According to Microsoft, the average cost of a virus incident is $2,500. These facts and figures came from the book The Dark Side Of The Internet (written by Paul Bocij), by the way.

Erik Eckel
Erik Eckel

I haven't had that experience with Norton's 2008 and 2009 platforms, certainly. I'd be interested in hearing which specific virus infections Norton 2008 or 2009 missed on your systems. Could you post those?

be9_benn
be9_benn

I'm not sure who's paying this guy to tout Norton, but as anyone who has ever looked at resource allocation before and after a Norton install knows that it is a hog. How about the 2005 version which required an additional tool to remove it and even that still left a slew of symantec and norton garbage festering in the registry. HLive update,Live update updater, Live Update updater, updater...blah blah blah---Anyone who is stupid enough to buy Norton deserves it! Deep down in the drakest parts of my money loving heart I adore Norton because it keeps me busy removing viruses and/or Norton. On the other hadn I would never jeopardize my reputation by recommending it to anyone. PS I'm really getting tired of supposed industry "gurus" plugging crap mass-produced bloatware. My theory is as follows: Make bloatware with tentacles wrapped around the entire system to remove or even prevent other AV software. System works harder and hotter. Heat creates hardware fail. Now upgrade hardware. A vicious cycle for the consumer and job security for the "industry". I just as soon have that guy from the Honeymooneers-Norton-protecting my system as any Norton AV product-Don't even get me started on Norton 360... Peace!opensourcerer B^>

Erik Eckel
Erik Eckel

That's one of the features I like about Norton's standalone antivirus application. The performance is really quite improved. A gallery should soon publish with proof (from screenshots using Microsoft's own Process Explorer) showing that Norton uses an incredibly low amount of system resources.

Erik Eckel
Erik Eckel

I've seen numerous Trend Micro systems (had one this past holiday weekend in fact) that are corrupted. In these cases, these systems had up-to-date Trend Micro protection but active viruses/spyware. And, I was unable to uninstall Trend Micro without having to use its removal tool. Granted, all antivirus/antispyware programs will encounter trouble, but it seems the number of Trend Micro systems I've encountered exceed all but those running McAfee.

noto747
noto747

you are saying that they will come into my door step hahahaha how can they know if they dont know that i am updating i mean updating like a real license one so what i am saying is they know that i am using real license in truth its not hahahaha use fake e mail address and fake address and hack i try it in nod32 2009, norton 2009 kasperky 2009 i use trail reset hack boot everything never ones caught even my microsoft its genuine i update like one but 10 years now they never know its fake ayuya software software hahahha my goodness sorry really it hurts you but that is the real world did you know that hackers is from the company too of anti virus too they give codes to hackers for money too so come on you give i give they give its their fault hahaha leakage as long as internet is free hackers prevail .....

ThumbsUp2
ThumbsUp2

... it's just that they haven't shown up at your doorstep YET.

noto747
noto747

i am not making a big liability i am just saying that for the rich license it and for the poor hack it its like 50-50 fair also the norton game edition is very good for me really it does not slow down my pc its good but still i am using hack license i am just wondering why norton can not detect hack license i am using norton game edition 2009 anti virus detect everthing but they can not detect hack license why why....

Erik Eckel
Erik Eckel

That screen shot, which shows Norton using a minimal amount of system resources, was captured on a Windows Vista system powered by a four-year-old P4 3.2 GHz PC. I had 2.5GB of RAM in it, though. Unfortunately, I don't think I have a P4 w/1GB of RAM in my test lab, otherwise I'd run that test. I doubt the numbers would be significantly higher. Other processes I had running live at the time included the Windows Sidebar with numerous gadgets, LogMeIn, Mozy, APC battery backup software, Brother's printing control center, Logitech desktop mouse/keyboard software and a host of other programs. All worked well. In fact, in order to test ESET Nod 32, I uninstalled Norton on that machine, installed Nod32 and used Nod32 for about three weeks. I just uninstalled it (page load times slowed way down in IE, for some reason). Now I'm back to decent performance.

be9_benn
be9_benn

OK now try running the program on a P4 with 1 GB of RAM, with other normal processes running in the background and let's see the results. Norton's previous hijinks warrant never giving them a second chance. Oh yeah have fun calling their customer service hehee. They are a shady group and everyone knows it.

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