The Internet is a two-way street: The more time you spend gathering information online, the more you need to make sure that others aren't doing the same to you. Symantec addresses this concern with Norton Internet Security 2000 (NIS 2000). Not only does NIS 2000 protect your computer from hacker attacks and viruses, it also gives you the tools necessary to maintain your online privacy, restrict access to offensive material, and even limit annoying banner ads.
At the heart of the program is a firewall that controls the flow of information between your computer and the Internet. This firewall blocks a wide range of intrusion techniques—including Trojan horse attacks and rogue Java code—while leaving normal activities like online gaming unaffected. Also included in the package is a full version of Norton AntiVirus, which can root out viruses and malicious macros in downloads and e-mail attachments.
You can also use NIS 2000 to restrict the online activities of children and other users. The program's Privacy settings let you block any attempt to transmit confidential information (such as your last name or telephone number), and the Parental Control option blocks access to Web sites whose content you find objectionable. In fact, NIS 2000 lets you block whole categories of Internet applications, such as chat or file transfer. There's even an option to disable online ads and pop-up windows, although its shotgun approach tends to block some inoffensive material as well, including product-ordering and sweepstakes-entry forms. The product also comes with a year of free updates.
Although the program could use more flexible logging options and better documentation of the advanced settings, we found it easy to use and highly effective overall. In fact, NIS 2000 detected several intrusion attempts during the week it was tested on our cable-modem and ADSL-connected systems.
If you're worried about who might be lurking around the next digital corner, you'll appreciate the convenience of having a firewall, a virus checker, and a parental-control program all in one package.
Product: Norton Internet Security 2000
Rating: Computer Shopper Best Buy Five Stars
Pros: Effective firewall, monitoring, and parental-control capabilities; easy-to-use default settings
Cons: Complicated advanced options; ad-blocking capa bility a bit too broad
Company: Symantec Corp.
Cupertino, CA; 800-441-7234
Requires: Pentium-class processor; 24MB RAM (32MB recommended); 60MB hard drive space; Internet connection; Windows 95 or 98
Mfr. Est. Price: $59.95