Does anybody like Norton AntiVirus?

Does anybody like Norton AntiVirus?

Summary: commentary Has anybody had a good experience with Symantec's Norton Antivirus?Whenever I have written about Symantec's flagship consumer antivirus application, the response from readers is always the same.

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TOPICS: Symantec, Security
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commentary Has anybody had a good experience with Symantec's Norton Antivirus?

Whenever I have written about Symantec's flagship consumer antivirus application, the response from readers is always the same. Hordes of Symantec's customers write in complaining that Norton AntiVirus (NAV) sucks up their system resources, doesn't clean their computer thoroughly and when they finally decide to ditch the program altogether, they first need to download a special un-installation tool from Symantec's Web site.

Readers have also said that Live Update is difficult to configure when not in administrator mode, which is rather ironic because when the user is logged in as an administrator the application's script blocker is vulnerable to attack.

The least Symantec's customers should expect is real protection. Unfortunately, even that very basic requirement seems beyond the company's development teams -- and so the spin doctors and marketers are brought in to try and soften the blow.

In October, when a researcher discovered a security vulnerability in NAV, Symantec initially denied the problem existed, then admitted that there was a problem but played down its severity. Finally the company admitted that NAV was vulnerable to attack and retracted its earlier statements -- which the company admitted were factually incorrect.

So the situation right now is that Norton AntiVirus 2005 - which costs more than AU$90 from Symantec's Web site and is labelled "The world's most trusted antivirus solution" -- can be fooled by a simple script into turning off its auto-protect functionality and leaving the computer at a malicious user's mercy.

Last week, high-level executives from Symantec's US headquarters said that the company was working on strengthening the product's internal defence mechanisms to make it more resilient to such attacks.

However, these improvements are unlikely to be seen until the next version, which will be Norton AntiVirus 2006 and released in six months time.

Meanwhile, Symantec is hoping that a script kiddie will not find the exploit codes -- which have already started circulating around the Web -- and use them to launch an attack.

Mark Kennedy, architect, product delivery and response, said last week that if a virus writer was to use the exploit code and create a worm, the company would have a signature written to protect customers "within hours".

"Anybody that had not been hit by it and had updated their signatures before the worm infected their machine would be fully protected from it," said Kennedy.

What Kennedy failed to point out is that worms can travel around the world in minutes, which doesn't leave much time for Symantec to create the signature or NAV customers to download and install the update.

Vincent Weafer, the senior director of Symantec's Security Response team, said the reason why so many people complain about its product is that the company has such a large user base.

"We are on far more machines than most other people so you are going to get a lot of feedback," said Weafer.

Unless Symantec brings its NAV product up to date, Weafer is unlikely to be able to make the same claim two years from now. There are already a number of antivirus applications on the market, such as Grisoft's AVG, that are free to use and far less demanding of a computer's resources.

If Symantec really wants to reduce the number of people complaining about Norton AntiVirus, it should be improving the product rather than hiring spin doctors to try and cover up its flaws.

Topics: Symantec, Security

Munir Kotadia

About Munir Kotadia

Munir first became involved with online publishing in 1998 when he joined ZDNet UK and later moved into print publishing as Chief Reporter for IT Week, part of ZDNet UK, a weekly trade newspaper targeted at Enterprise IT managers. He later moved back into online publishing as Senior News Reporter for ZDNet UK.

Munir was recognised as Australia's Best Technology Columnist at the 5th Annual Sun Microsystems IT Journalism Awards 2007. In the previous year he was named Best News Journalist at the Consensus IT Writers Awards.

He no longer uses his Commodore 64.

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62 comments
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  • I have had generally positive experiences with NAV (& I still use 2002, after finding that newer versions offer no significantly greater protection). Though I have never suffered a serious virus infection, there are some definite problems with the product. Firstly, the auto-update feature cannot be relied upon, and can interfere with other processes and with internet performance. Secondly, Symantec's programs do not tend to play nicely with one another. Thirdly, their online support system is a nightmare to navigate. My impression of Symantec is of an organization which believes its own press. Inevitably, they will be in for a nasty surprise...
    anonymous
  • What a hit piece. Did you short the stock or something? Unfair and unbalanced, you could write for Fox!
    anonymous
  • Hey, I like NAV! I have made a tidy sum cleaning viruses off of customers computers that run Norton's. I wish more people used it.
    anonymous
  • Good on you Munir!
    NAV sucks resources like mad, has a weird interface and is the single greatest factor in slowing down my PC. And auto update is patchy at best.
    anonymous
  • I have been using NAV for many years and it has saved me countless times from the various nasties that float around the net.
    No, I don't work for Symantec or have shares in the company. I just find it works very well for me.
    I have flirted with AVG but it doesn't seem to be as comprehensive a solution as NAV. You get what you pay for.
    Don't ask me about Norton's firewall, though. That would be a totally different story.
    Greg
    anonymous
  • Tim,
    mate, stick to your stockbroking and take it from an IT Professional, in the AV space there's Trend and then there the "rest".
    anonymous
  • All I know about it is that everytime anyone I know has installed it, things just stop working. From networking to printing, something always went wrong. Granted it is only a small number of people (about 6) that I know have tried it, but 100% of them has had mysterious ailments since. As a result I have a brand new box of their stuff that I won which I am too frightened to install
    anonymous
  • How about a reader survey? :-)
    Nav has been good in past, but have had bugs and sucks up system and network resources - have many customers with network performance issues after upgrading. Last updrade was extremely painful for us. Would not recommend it anymore.
    anonymous
  • Symantec was the King in the DOS days, but has become increasingly inferior as each year has rolled on in the Windows relm.
    Its resource hungry, slows everything to a snail, major problems with Live Update & Registration for the several years now. Does a poor job in detecting worms. Has caused many a Blue Screen of death in the early days of Win 95 - 98 & XP.
    Its cumbersome to use & has continual glitches, the amount of wasted man hours I have lost due to this buggy software is unacceptable.
    I would NOT go back to it if they paid me, Norman Antivirus & Firewall (NIC) are far superior I have not had a problem with NIC in the 2 years I have been using NIC.
    Recommend Norman to anyone who wants a rock solid piece of software to do what its suppose to do - Protect you.
    bruce18
  • I'll refrain from swearing but let's just say that Norton's is being dumped from my computer and Trend Micro's PC-cillin will be installed. Every day when NAV pops up and tells me I have only 26,25,24 days to renew, I get a shiver of anticipation. Is that wrong?

    Bye bye Norton . . . that's if I can ever unistall it properly
    anonymous
  • no probs here
    dburb007
  • I have been a "Fan" of Norton Since the Dos days. I have noticed that I was losing more and more resources to NAV, but thought that it was part of the "Cost" of keeping virus free. I have been fighting a virus that modifies my DNS, and a trojan that would change my Admin Password. Norton did not find it, updates everything, finally an associate said try Trend Micro. It found the offending virus and trojan during the frist pass. Now my system is "Clean", how many hours have I lost trying to locate those two. While I may use the Utilities, I am Uninstalling NAV NOW, and getting my resources back.
    anonymous
  • As an IT professional I can honestly say that I believe I have un-installed NAV more times than I have installed it. My customers typically pay for the product and install it and then find that either their computer grinds to a halt or that their computer gets infected with a virus even though the virus data files are up to date. I have not been able to recommend NAV to my customers for more than 3 years as I am liable for recommendations I make. I do not believe my professional indemnity insurance would cover me if I was sued for recommending NAV to a customer!
    crodgers@...
  • Norton Anti Virus is Great. Always kept my computers Free of Viruses. Norton Personal Firewall is also a great prog.
    anonymous
  • Interesting - I didn't realise that NAV had so many people against it.

    I have been using Norton Internet Security 2003 since April 2003 - downloaded at a very decent AUD price from Symantec's US site. I have found this product to be well-behaved and effective in stopping viruses, intrusions and the like.

    Yes - LiveUpdate takes some time/resources to run but I would rather have that than a non-working machine due to a virus infection.
    Also, the one time I had to uninstall/reinstall NIS, the experience was as bad as getting rid of Gator !! Anyway, it is working fine after that so I am happy again.
    I also had issues with NIS not working properly when there are too many programs in startup - funnily enough, that problem has gone away with XP SP2.
    Recently, I saw NIS LiveUpdate make some oblique remarks about XP SP2's security features, which interferes with NIS ... thought that was a bit catty.

    All in all, my AUD 67 investment in NIS has worked well over the last year, and as long as my PC remains virus-free, it's all good, man !!
    anonymous
  • > Symantec was the King in the DOS days
    Nah, McAfee and Thunderbyte were.

    Nortons is the sister to McAfee, they both come as OEM software on systems from some reputable companies and re-sellers. All they are is Bloatware that consumes resources in order for the owner to one day get sick to death with it all and go buy a new system and/or other AV software. Its all a marketing gimmick....

    me? I use VET. And even this is starting to become bloatware in the past six months. Its hit the 8 meg mark already.

    Trend? Tried it. Deleted it.

    Gotta go an try sophos one day.
    anonymous
  • I used to use NAV but it kept on stopping me from getting updates after a year.. Well.. Yuck..

    I now use ClamWin which is free, is updated more frequently, only thing it doesnt scan files when saved (so stuff happens quicker), It has a scheduler to scan files.. (May also e-mail scanning for microslop programs but I dont use them and my e-mail is scanned before it hits my computer)..

    Look at http://www.clamwin.com/
    anonymous
  • I have used Norton Products in the past such as Anti Virus and System Works. Never again!! Norton products suck system resources dry and almost impossible to get rid of all files from a PC.

    Use VET Anti Virus
    anonymous
  • Hi all readers,

    I think it is so stupid that Vincent Weafer said "We are on far more machines than most other people so you are going to get a lot of feedback," said Weafer.

    That has nothing to do with getting the problem fixed.

    And don't forget that people do move on and brand loyalty is dying out. If you have problems and your support cost money, people will move on.

    Customers pay your salary, don't forget that...stupid Symantec management.

    Some free anti-virus out there are better than Norton!
    anonymous
  • Hi all readers,

    I think it is so stupid that Vincent Weafer said "We are on far more machines than most other people so you are going to get a lot of feedback," said Weafer.

    That has nothing to do with getting the problem fixed.

    And don't forget that people do move on and brand loyalty is dying out. If you have problems and your support cost money, people will move on.

    Customers pay your salary, don't forget that...stupid Symantec management.

    Some free anti-virus out there are better than Norton!
    anonymous