Our A-Listed security suite returns for another year. Are the new features enough to keep it there?
Symantec's 2010 offering has long been our recommended security suite, and for 2011 the company has made only minor tweaks.
The only conspicuous difference is the front-end, which now shows a live map of world malware hotspots - intended, perhaps, to emphasise the value of security software. Below this, new buttons connect directly into the company's separate parental control and online backup services, tying the various Norton offerings more cleanly together. You can check websites and perform "safe" web searches from within the interface too.
In terms of malware protection, Symantec says it's beefed up its behavioural and reputation-based scanning, but the results we saw were in line with last year's package. That's no bad thing, though. The 2010 package topped our last Labs with a 98% malware detection score, and its successor kept up an impressive 97% against this month's batch. Independent testing agency AV-Test saw similar results, giving Norton Internet Security 2011 a 98% score for detection.
The firewall and web protection engines haven't been upgraded, but we've no complaints about those modules either: the firewall remains effective at cloaking your PC from intrusions, and as we've seen in previous tests, the web protection is reassuringly effective at intercepting active browser exploits.
Since the changes are fairly minor, Norton Internet Security has kept its unobtrusive footprint: it added just 109MB to our system's total RAM footprint, and a mere two seconds to boot-time, followed by three seconds of CPU activity after the desktop appeared, a lot lighter than either of its rivals this month. To keep your system running smoothly, the package will now also alert you when any process is hogging the CPU or gobbling up your RAM.
On top of this you get all the usual extras: a map of your home network, a password manager for websites, email protection and as many logs and charts as you could ask for. With so much going on, it's a shame the UI remains dauntingly labyrinthine. But, while Norton Internet Security 2011 may be only a slight refinement of its forebear, it continues to deliver highly effective protection in a light and responsive package, thus proving itself worthy to retain the A List top-spot.