We at Norton are very excited to share the Beta release for Norton Internet Security and Norton Antivirus 2012 products with you. Below are descriptions of the new features and great enhancements provided with this release.
2012 introduces several new technologies to combat emerging threats.
Fake AV is one of the most visible and wide-spread threats that Internet users face today. Fake AV pretends to be security software and tempts the user to pay for it. Even worse, it can install additional malware on the system and claim the system is clean. New for 2012, we’ve included SONAR 4.0 and Norton Power Eraser 2.0 to help our customers combat Fake AV.
With 2012 we are introducing SONAR Policy Enforcement – We now have the ability to convict a suspicious process based on a behavioral “profile.” To create these profiles, an analyst looks at the 500+ attributes that SONAR tracks and make a series of associations For example, let’s say a particular process tried to access the system folder and tried to call home, but does not have any running UI. Also, it downloaded more than 15 files the previous day. Any one of these things alone may not be “bad,” but taken as a whole, the behavioral profile is bad. The analyst will therefore make a rule that says if we see this string of behaviors, then we should stop the process from executing. Doing all of this is a big deal--we aren’t just looking at what the process does on your computer, we are also looking at its communication characteristics!
Sonar 4.0 also introduces protection against Non Process Threats (NPTs). As the name suggests, these threats are not active processes by themselves, but they inject themselves into legitimate active processes. SONAR 4.0 technology is able to much more aggressively remove threats on pre-infected machines.
Norton Power Eraser
Since we introduced Norton Power Eraser last year, it has exceeded our expectations and has been very well received by our customers and reviewers. Almost 90% of users claim it has resolved their issue without them having to contact us for support. This is a significant increase since we first introduced Norton Power Eraser a year ago, when the resolution rate started at 65%. Our goal was to make this the most effective tool possible and we are on our way to achieving that.
With the 2012 release, Norton Power Eraser runs in Windows Pre-Install Environment (WinPE) and will be accessible when running the Norton Bootable Recovery Tool. That means users get additional leverage over malware because Norton Power Eraser is run from a completely separate environment (WinPE) where the malware is not running and can scan the OS and more partitions.
Integration with Specialized Tools
As the threat landscape evolves, we are seeing the need for specialized malware removal tools more than ever before. As an example, we have a removal tool for the Tidserv (http://www.symantec.com/security_response/writeup.jsp?docid=2010-090608-3309-99) that has been very successful in helping users remove this highly prevalent rootkit. Often, the issue is that users often do not know that they are infected with Tidserv and therefore do not know they can be helped with this tool.
Both our scanning and network layer security components will now look out for threats that require removal tools and inform the customer that they may have a serious infection that requires a special removal tool. These users will be provided with a link to download these tools. This closes the gap and provides extended protection.
Google Chrome browser – best support ever
If Chrome is your favorite browser, you are in for a treat. 2012 comes full circle on the Chrome browser by supporting Identity Safe and Safe Web features. This means you will get the password and form-filling capability from Identity Safe, industry-leading phishing protection and SafeWeb site safety ratings for Web sites and search results. You can choose to view the toolbar in full, or close it and continue to get a Norton icon on the top right indicating the safety of the page.
With this most recent addition Norton continues to protect our users on one more platform when they surf online.
Users need to keep their computers running faster – we understand that. If a product doesn't use system resources judiciously and causes the computer to slow down; users may disable certain protection features and get vulnerable to attacks. Performance is of utmost importance for security products. At Norton, performance is always at the heart of the improvements we make to the products and we continue to innovate to achieve better performance. For the 2012 release, we are working in 50+ areas related to performance. To highlight a few high-level areas:
- Reduction in footprint, resulting in smaller download and install sizes
- Faster startup and shutdown
- Enhanced scan time and file copy performance, resulting in faster scans and file access operations, and having very little or no impact in other application launches.
- Enhanced network throughput, resulting in faster file copies over the network. More and more users are using sophisticated home networks and the changes in 2012 ensures that our security software gets out of their way for things like shared network file servers and other conveniences of today’s digital home
Norton is committed to providing the best customer experience. We actively review the feedback we get from our customers and combine that with the product usage telemetry to understand how our products are used. As a result, we have made several improvements to our product design.
Simplified Main Window
One thing you will notice right away is that the main window has been simplified for the users who only want to do two basic things: Run Live Updates and Run Scans. However, for the more technically inclined, the Advanced Controls are only 1 click away. And, you can choose which view you see when you open the product. We believe this will create a really good balance for users who want to use the basic controls as well as the ones who need the advanced features.
The CPU Meter is back
You asked for it and you got it. The CPU meter shows a quick comparison of the resource usage between Norton and your computer’s operating system. In 2012, it’s right on the main window.
Streamlined Scanning Screens
All scanning screens now provide clarity in the Scan > Review > Results flow. There are also cosmetic changes to give them a modern look.
Custom Scans – the Norton way
In previous years we have relied on the scheduler provided by the OS to do custom scan scheduling. With 2012 we are moving to our own scheduler, which does an excellent job of detecting idle time. Now you can customize your scans and have them run at a certain fixed time or run when your computer is idle. You can also set advanced options separately for each custom scan so you get the maximum flexibility in setting up your scans.
Identity Safe 2.0 in the cloud
Yes, that is correct. Identity Safe 2012 supports storing your data in the secure Norton cloud. You can set up Identity Safe in the cloud and use it from multiple computers. An online profile is created using your existing Norton Account.
A brand new form-filling engine has been put in place to increase the accuracy of form filling.
Identity Safe also gets a completely revamped user interface. It has adapted a lower profile push-down browser toolbar and gotten rid of the old style popup windows, reducing distraction from your browsing experience.
Download Insight 2.0
Ever wished that someone told you not to install an application that crashes all the time and ruins your experience? You have Norton to do exactly that. With the 2012 product line we are introducing the concept of Application Stability Ratings.
Norton’s Community Watch system provides us with information about millions of applications and their behaviors. Stability is measured by looking at an application’s crash and hang frequency over time. The higher the number, the less stable the application is.
Stability Ratings are a natural fit in the Download Insight flows. On a download, in addition to providing the Trust ratings, the alert will also display stability ratings. A “Reliable” rating means that the chances of this program crashing are minimal; on the other end, “Very unstable” means that the chances of this program crashing are high.
Our customers can now use this information to decide whether to run the application. In some cases customers can search for a newer version (or older for that matter) of the application that might be more stable, look for an alternative to the application - and of course, in some cases the application is critical and unfortunately customers would have to allow it to run, but you at least have a clear expectation of the application’s behavior. We also added an option to turn on an alert when an unstable application is run, so you get a chance to decide if you want to launch a potentially unstable application. [It can be found under Settings > Web > Download Intelligence > Alert on Poor Stability]
You will also see the new Stability Ratings in other parts of the product, such as Norton Insight, File Insight, and in the Reputation Scan results.
This feature is a step towards a new feature set for Norton. We want your PC experience to be seamless. Using performance data from our millions of Community Watch users, we can keep not only malware, but poorly written and crash-prone software out of your PC experience.
There has been an explosion in availability of mobile broadband devices. These devices are either built into your laptop or you can buy them separately. In addition, more and more smartphones support data tethering. Almost all mobile broadband plans limit data usage. Norton 2012 products rely on our cloud services to give you the best performance and protection. Now with Norton 2012 products, you can set policies on how much bandwidth Norton product will use to suit your data usage plans.
For example, if you connect your iPhone with a limited data tethering plan, you can choose to use “Critical Updates Only” or “No Traffic” policies. With “Critical Updates Only,” Norton products limit Internet usage to critical tasks that keep you secure.
Norton In-Product Support Experience (AutoFix)
With Norton 2012, we have streamlined our in-product support experience to help you in rare case s when you have a problem with the product. The new automated support experience will scan your product to see if it can identify any problems. For example, it will look to see if your product had any installation or configuration problems. If there are problems that can be automatically fixed, Norton Autofix will try to fix those problems for you.
If you encounter a problem that cannot be automatically fixed, it will offer to take you to our new and improved support portal to get help.
Hope this post gave you a brief insight into what our vision for 2012 is. I would encourage everyone to try out our Beta products and see them for yourself. We are really excited about these products and would love to hear your feedback and suggestions.