A few days ago, Symantec held a soirée for the press at Rockefeller Center’s Top of the Rock. The crystal clear, wrap-around view of Manhattan was ostensibly intended to highlight the release of the company’s Norton 360 security program. The views were spectacular, Matt Costa’s performance able, and the demos concise.
After testing Norton 360 for a few days, I’ve found it lives up to the Norton legacy of solid, the-best-offense-is-a-good-defense products. The $70 program includes anti-virus and firewall protection, as well as intrusion detection, anti-spyware protection, and anti-phishing features. It also is simpler to use, allowing many standard programs to run without having to make multiple amendments to the firewall rules. And Symantec allows owners to use the program on up to 3 different machines, an especially welcome feature in my household (hey, can I use it on 8 machines?).
Two additional items of note about Norton 360: First, Symantec is including 2 GB of online storage space free of charge for owners. I highly recommend taking them up on this offer and storing essential files (like Quicken backup files) online for disaster recovery purposes. (If you want more space, you can pay for it.) Second, some of the program’s gimcracks can weigh heavily on older PCs. The site authentication feature, for example, had a detrimental impact on one of my older computers, slowing my surfing to a crawl (after much searching, I figured out how to turn it off). So I only recommend upgrading to 360 if your computer was purchased within the last couple of years.
However, even if you don’t opt for a full-blown security program like Norton 360, make sure you use some kind of firewall. And remember the three most important words in computing: backup, backup, backup.
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