Symantec has released its 2008 line of Norton brand home computer security software. The focus this year is on web security and behavior-based threat detection.
Norton Internet Security 2008 also includes identity protection features that use an ID card metaphor and look like a direct competitor of the CardSpace feature in Windows Vista.
The release of NIS 2008 and the vanilla Norton AntiVirus 2008 comes about a month earlier than the 2007 release last year. The pricing remains the same at $69.99 and $39.99.
NIS 2008 has baked in more of the behavior-based security technology introduced in the 2007 edition, including a new component, AntiBot.
AntiBot uses entirely behavioral detection to spot and block the kinds of programs that can turn PCs into bots, machines that are slaved over the internet to a malicious hacker.
Rather than looking for a known threat, it’s constantly running and look at the behavior of processes and applications on the machine and can then make detection and remediation based on the malicious behavior it finds, said Symantec’s Jody Gibney.
Also new to both NIS and NAV is Browser Defender, which is designed to stop web sites compromising PCs via known vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer and common plug-ins such as Quicktime and Acrobat.
Gibney said that known vulnerabilities includes those that have been disclosed but have yet to be patched, so the feature does offer some value over and above just patching.
It’s possible, she said, that other browsers, such as Firefox, may be supported in future updates, but for now Symantec chose to stick to IE, which leads the market and is the most common browser ingress for malware.
Also new to NIS is Identity Safe, a software vault for storing multiple user names, passwords, payment information and the like, using a card metaphor that lets users choose which of several identities to present to a web site.
This is conceptually almost identical to CardSpace, a component of Microsoft’s Windows Vista. Symantec has in the past indicated that its own identity software would be based on CardSpace, but it’s not clear if that’s still the case.
Asked whether Identity Vault was designed to work with CardSpace, or should be considered an alternative or competitor, Gibney, senior product manager for NIS, claimed she did not know.
Networking also gets improvements in the new software. Users will be able to view PCs and the status of instances of Norton installed on their home networks, Symantec said.
Since the most common criticism leveled against Norton software is the performance drag it can create, Symantec said it has for the second year in a row tightened up the code to make it faster.