Probably the best-known Windows internet-security (IS) suite in the world (although AVG may come close), Symantec's Norton Internet Security 2013 offers anti-virus, firewall, website/online banking protection and parental control.

Internet Security doesn't include PC tuneup or online backup; for those elements you need to look for Norton 360. Symantec boldly claims 'Our exclusive reputation and behaviour antivirus technology are so advanced that they can stop online threats that bad guys haven't even created yet'. See also: Group test: what's the best security software?

Norton IS 2013 also contains Norton Management, a cloud-based service which lets you add licences to your account without having to re-enter the product key. It's hard to see how this is of major benefit to customers.

The 2013 interface has had a revamp, with large fonts and simple controls. The main screen has just four, Windows 8-style tiles, labelled Secure, Scan Now, LiveUpdate and Advanced. Further options line up along the top and down the right-hand side.

The Performance option flips the main screen round to show a pair of live performance graphs of CPU and memory use, as well as details of any recent security events.

Norton Internet Security 2013Most settings are simple slide switches and the defaults for most people will be fine. This makes the software particularly easy to setup and, in our testing, most of the time it worked quietly in the background, without irritating notices pointing out everything it's done.

Running a scan on our 50GB basket of files took 22 min 49 sec and targeted 176,280 files, giving a scan rate of 128 files/sec.

This is the third highest throughput we've measured and shows a quick and thorough scan. It's a 19 percent higher scan rate than Norton IS 2012, too, so there has been some improvement in the scan engine in the last year.

Rerunning the scan took 3 min 15 sec to cover just 37,604 files, so Norton IS 2013 seems to be fingerprinting files to avoid having to rescan those already cleared.

Copying a 1GB file took 40 sec, with normal Norton background tasks running and 51 sec while also running a system scan. So that's almost a 28 percent increase in copy time when scanning, which is relatively light by the standards of much Windows security software.

AV Test is still testing the 2013 version of Norton Internet Security, so we cannot vouch for this software's efficacy in catching malware.

But results for the 2012 version were impressive, with an overall score of 15.0/18.0 for Windows XP and 15.5/18.0 under Windows 7. That breaks down into 5.0/6.0 for Protection, 4.5/6.0 for Repair and a perfect 6.0/6.0 for Usability.

Last year's program did pretty well at spotting zero-day attacks, perhaps because of its cloud-based SONAR technology, which looks for suspicious behaviour all the time your PC's running.

It was at least 10 percent above average for its test group and it also managed a perfect 100 percent spotting widespread malware. It dropped a bit detecting recent threats, dipping a couple of points below the average in this category.

Norton IS 2012 also did well at repairing systems damaged by malware and particularly in preparing critical system modifications, where it was a full 30 percent above average. In Usability, which looks at false warnings and the average resource hit, it was exemplary. Visit: Security Advisor

Symantec Norton Internet Security 2013: Specs

  • Windows XP SP2 32-bit/Vista SP1/7/8 32-/64-bit
  • 300MHz processor
  • 256MB RAM
  • 300MB drive space
  • Windows XP SP2 32-bit/Vista SP1/7/8 32-/64-bit
  • 300MHz processor
  • 256MB RAM
  • 300MB drive space


As we've now come to expect from Symantec, Norton Internet Security is a solid, professional piece of software, doing what it does thoroughly and with a minimum of interruption. There doesn't seem a whole lot new in the 2013 version and there are other products which include extra modules for the same money, but the core requirements of an IS product are well covered here.

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