NAV. It may be the definitive antivirus program. Why has Norton’s antivirus software proved so popular? Because it’s worked, and it’s worked well. But has Norton done it again with Norton AntiVirus 2000?

System requirements
The CD-ROM containing the software for Norton AntiVirus 2000 is designed to install under several different operating systems. Each OS has a different set of system requirements.

Windows NT 4.0/2000

  • Pentium or higher processor
  • 16 MB RAM for NT (32 MB recommended)
  • 32 MB RAM for Windows 2000 (64 MB recommended)
  • 50 MB free disk space

Windows 98/95

  • Intel 80486 DX/66 MHz or higher processor
  • 16 MB RAM (32 MB recommended)
  • 45 MB free disk space

Windows 3.1, DOS, or Windows NT 3.51
The CD-ROM ships with Norton AntiVirus 4.0, which is compatible with these older operating systems. The systems’ requirements are extremely antiquated by today’s standards:

  • Intel 80386 DX
  • 16 MB RAM
  • 16 MB free disk space

Symantec Corporation, Cupertino, CA, has become a world leader in Internet security. The $633-million company provides security products and solutions for large enterprises as well as individual users. Norton AntiVirus software has received numerous awards over the years from the trade press, and the Norton brand has become synonymous with antivirus software to most consumers.The modern conception of a computer virus developed with the arrival of personal computers. The nature of personal computers as independent devices, running their own operating systems and applications without the restrictions of central administration, gives the computer virus a perfect breeding environment. The establishment of computer networks, the Internet, and high-bandwidth delivery systems means that the computer virus that once could only spread by passing floppy disks can now infect thousands, if not millions, of computers in a matter of hours or possibly minutes.Unfortunately, the ability to infect that many computers with a malicious virus is too compelling for many deviant minds to ignore. Recent high-profile incidents involving computer viruses that were spread through e-mail and that exploited security holes in popular software programs have made virus protection software a must—if for no other reason than peace of mind. With the vast range of user sophistication in enterprises these days, no self-respecting network administrator can afford not to have some implementation of network-wide virus protection.
The installation of Norton AntiVirus is technically flawless, but users or executives who elect to install it themselves may run into questions that can be confusing even for the most advanced IT pro—including systems engineers. Network administrators should brace themselves for a rash of inquiries concerning scanning during startup, enabling auto-protection, and scheduling updates from the Symantec AntiVirus Research Center (SARC). SARC is the stern, official-sounding name Symantec has given to the department that updates definitions for new and mutated computer viruses.

As part of the setup routine, the software will prompt Windows 98/95 users to create rescue disks. If a personal computer becomes unusable because of a particularly nasty virus, these disks will supposedly boot the computer and run the Norton AntiVirus software. These disks are not necessary for Windows NT/2000 because those operating systems are already at that level of protection.

However, there are several aspects of the rescue-disk feature to consider, especially in an enterprise environment. The preferred configuration requires a floppy disk and an Iomega Zip drive combination. For users without the Zip drive, a floppy-only version of the rescue disks is available. But no matter which manifestation is created, these rescue disks require updating whenever the computer’s configuration is changed. A clean-booting disk and a CD-ROM with appropriate antivirus software seems more practical, especially if this approach is coupled with a regular backup regime.

Primary documentation for Norton AntiVirus is delivered through a 71-page booklet. For most users, this booklet will be completely adequate. The documentation is intuitive, and tremendous effort has been expended to make the material palatable to the lowest common denominator user. Additional software problems can be researched in the standard help file. Users with technical questions about detected viruses can obtain information at the Symantec Web site. Once the software is up and running, network administrators should not have to continually answer questions about the day-to-day functioning of Norton AntiVirus.

NAV 2000 sports a redesigned user interface that should make the software easy to use—even for the novice. The main screen is clean and easily readable, presenting a concise number of options and features in the form of buttons and menus. The unassuming nature of the interface corresponds well to the run-in-the-background nature of all antivirus software. Norton AntiVirus will do its job without interfering with your work.

The Auto-Protect feature checks Active X and Java applets on the fly. The dynamic, yet innocuous operation of Active X and Java—which makes them wonderful for Internet applications—also makes them useful for the malicious virus programmer. As more and more users surf the Internet as part of their everyday jobs, this protection becomes extremely important to enterprise-wide mission critical systems and their administrators.

One of the more prominent new features in NAV 2000 is its ability to scan e-mail attachments for viruses. This feature is in direct response to the highly publicized e-mail virus scares of 1999. The antivirus software integrates with most POP3 e-mail clients and is designed to seamlessly check e-mail attachments in the background.

In addition, Norton AntiVirus is now capable of finding and eradicating computer viruses and other malicious code inside compressed files. NAV 2000 supports zipped files, as well as LHA and CAB files. This process even works for compressed files inside compressed files.

Symantec has incorporated “Live” features into their antivirus software. LiveUpdate will upload definitions for newly discovered viruses or modified versions of old viruses by connecting directly to Symantec over the Internet. Registering the software during installation nets the user a one-year subscription to this service. Renewal subscriptions, on an individual basis, are available for $3.95 per year. Users can opt to have these updates take place on a regular schedule or they can perform the updates manually as needed. LiveAdvisor is a two-way communication system between the user and Symantec. Acting as an agent, LiveAdvisor will periodically check with the company for messages about product information, upgrades, updates, and technical information.

Along with the traditional detection and eradicating of computer viruses, Norton AntiVirus offers a quarantine feature. If the software detects what it suspects to be a new virus, it will quarantine the offending code, effectively preventing any further interaction between it and your system. Users can use the step-by-step Scan and Deliver Wizard to send these quarantined files to SARC for analysis.

The bottom line
Once upon a time, the threat of computer viruses was more hype than horror. Common sense and routine maintenance were just as effective as antivirus software in preventing infection and loss of data. However, the increasing sophistication of malicious virus programmers, the decreasing level of end-user sophistication (especially at the consumer-level), and the all-encompassing nature of the Internet, make virus protection software a standard operating procedure for all systems.

NAV 2000 sets the standard for virus protection software. Each version of the software has garnered rave reviews from the trade press and users. The software says what it does and does what it says—effectively, efficiently, and unobtrusively. Network administrators will relish its ease of installation, while end users will find solace in its protection. Some power users will no doubt be annoyed by some of its user-friendly prompting, which can be irritating, but novices will welcome the hand-holding.

A business consultant, Mark Kaelin writes for the Louisville Computer News in addition to contributing to TechRepublic. For diversion, he spends time on the softball field or the golf course and listens to rock ‘n’ roll.

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