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Security software Reviews
15,669 Reviews PC Advisor Recommended

Symantec Norton Internet Security 2012 review

£49 inc VAT

Manufacturer: Symantec

Our Rating: We rate this 4 out of 5

Norton Internet Security 2012 is in internet security suite that works lightly and efficiently.

Review from 06/12/2011

By Simon Williams

Norton AntiVirus, if not the first, was one of the very early anti-malware products and, as a core part of Symantec's software portfolio, Norton Internet Security is still one of the leading applications in the Internet Security Suites field.

Norton Internet Security 2012 offers anti-virus, identity protection, parental control and system rescue. There's a software firewall and spam and phishing prevention, too. Installation is reasonably painless, though it wouldn't proceed until we'd uninstalled Iolo's System Mechanic, so if you value that maintenance software (other utilities we weren't running might also prove incompatible), you'll need to look outside of Norton Internet Security 2012 for your internet security.

The clash appears to be down to the SONAR 4 Behavioural Protection, which looks for suspicious behaviour by processes on you PC and, if it finds enough evidence, prevents those processes taking place. Other legitimate software which works behind the scenes can be confused with malicious programs, so is best not run alongside Norton Internet Security 2012 and the SONAR engine.

The main interface of Norton Internet Security 2012 has had an overhaul and continues to be very easy to use. The most popular options – Scan, LiveUpdate and Advanced settings – have been given more prominence and setting screens are mainly devoted to slide switches, which are very easy to work with.

See also: Group test: what's the best security software?

There's a useful performance display which shows CPU and memory usage by Norton and other processes and a timeline of threat detections and resolutions. This is the kind of feedback few other IS products offer, but it's a shame the Norton window can't be pushed up to full screen. Things like these graphs and the global malware activity map are little more than window dressing – the map is too small to identify specific places.

Another irritation is that scans aren't represented with a progress meter, so it's hard to tell how long they're likely to take. But our tests show Norton IS 2012 runs fast. The 50GB file scan took 27:08, but that was for 175,621 files, giving an average scan rate of 108 files per second. This is the fastest we've recorded on this test, though by default the program tested 10 times as many files as its rivals, which may be over-exhaustive.

Symantec claims Norton IS 2012 has a smaller footprint than before and this is born out by our copy tests. With the program running in the background, the 1GB copy took 50 secs, close to the other IS suites we've looked at recently. With a scan running, it took 1:15, pretty much in the middle of the times taken by its competitors.

AV-Test evaluated the latest engine and scored it 14.5/18; a very good score. Breaking that down, Norton scored 5.5/6 for protection, missing only 2 percent of all the malware thrown at it in two months, while it also scored well above the industry average at repairing infected systems, gaining 5/6.

It dropped to 4/6 in usability, mainly due to a few false positives. In comparison with Norton 360, you don't get backup and restore, nor PC tuneup, so you should consider whether you need those functions before saving around £10 by going for Norton Internet Security. Visit: Security Advisor


Norton Internet Security 2012 is probably the best known of all Internet Security products and Symantec has stood the test of time by constantly improving its product with useful extras, both in its core engine and in the way it reports what it has been up to. The latest version is commendably light on resources and does what it sets out to do quickly and efficiently.

Norton Internet Security 2012 Expert Verdict »

Windows XP/Vista/7, 32/64 bit, 1GHz PC, 256MB RAM, 300MB HD
  • Ease of Use: We give this item 9 of 10 for ease of use
  • Features: We give this item 8 of 10 for features
  • Value for Money: We give this item 8 of 10 for value for money
  • Overall: We give this item 8 of 10 overall

Symantec's Norton security suite will do a great job of keeping your PC safe, and the program is easy to use too.

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