The Internet’s capabilities are staggering in terms of the wealth of information and entertainment that it offers. Yet this technological marvel also harbors hackers, viruses, identity thieves, and con artists. With these ever-present dangers, Internet users must constantly guard themselves and their families. Symantec’s Norton Internet Security 2001 Family Edition (ISFE 2001) offers this protection in an integrated security and privacy suite. I recently reviewed this product and found it to be totally suitable for the home user. Read on to learn more.

A little information about ISFE 2001
ISFE 2001 software allows users to browse the Web safely and securely through the use of firewall, antivirus, and privacy software. Specifically designed for PC users with younger family members, this package is a beefed-up version of Norton Internet Security 2001. In addition to the standard Internet Security 2001 features, ISFE 2001 contains privacy and parental control software.

Figure A
When starting Norton Internet Security 2001 Family Edition, you will be given several options to secure your computer while browsing the Internet.

A blend of two great applications
ISFE 2001 incorporates two of Norton’s biggest software sellers for home and small business use: Norton Firewall 2001 and Norton AntiVirus 2001.

After my tests, I found Norton’s firewall product to be a great SOHO security product, especially for those individuals with broadband connectivity. By using advanced options, users have the opportunity to block restricted ports from outside users, enable or disable individual ActiveX controls, and allow specific advertisements to be removed from Web pages. You can see an example of these advanced features in Figure B, below:

Figure B
ISFE 2001’s firewall options allow users to block specific ports, domains, and various kinds of Internet traffic.

Norton’s AntiVirus software is also one of the leading antivirus products on the market, and it’s easy to operate. By using the Live Update feature, users can download the latest virus packages directly from Symantec.

Parental controls are the key
While the security and antivirus features are enough to make ISFE 2001 a superior product, it’s the privacy options that make the package stand out. The parental controls allow you to restrict Internet access based on the individual user. Let’s say you have both an 8-year-old and a 16-year-old, each with unique computing needs and different levels of appropriate Web site visibility.

The parental controls included with ISFE 2001 allow the Internet administrator (you) to set up an account for each child, as seen in Figure C below:

Figure C
By using the Create Account feature in the parental controls, you can add individual accounts for children of various ages in your household, as well as other adults.

Each predetermined category has restrictions available that keep each age group from visiting inappropriate Web sites. Children under the age of 13 can’t visit the sites that teenagers can, while teenagers can’t visit the sites that adults can. And if you don’t agree with the predetermined filters, you can always create your own.

Block those unwanted advertisements
Another useful feature is the Ad Block. Internet security administrators can determine which ads they would like blocked and add those sites and/or banners to a filter. ISFE 2001 then removes these standard ad banners from any Web pages the user visits.

While this option is good, it’s not perfect. If a Web site doesn’t use banners considered standard by advertising companies, the filter probably won’t block the ad. So ad companies who wish to work around these filters only need to change their ad’s size to potentially render the filter useless.

The bottom line
For those individuals needing a high level of security and parental controls for their SOHO computer, ISFE 2001 is a great choice. However, more advanced users may find the interface a bit simple and may desire a product with more advanced firewall controls. In that case, I suggest these individuals either try Norton Raptor firewall software or Norton VelociRaptor firewall appliance.
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