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Getiing paranoic with the fast always on internet I tried the trial version. Downloads beautifully & then takes over your computer. If you are a novice you will get yourself into such hassles you won't be able to function. Causes conflicts with existing programs and causes freezes. After rebooting you sometimes cannot reconnect to the internet without uninstalling the feature. I gave up in under a month. This was surprising because the 2000 family edition version was very user friendly and gave me no problems at all till I ran out of updates after a year. The 2001 version gave me nightmares. I am not saying it is not an excellent product but very difficult to live with if you are not an expert. I am making do with the antivirus and hoping for the best.
Norton Internet Security is a useful utility that makes browsing the internet a more safe, secure and convenient pastime. It works in several ways. Firstly, it creates a personal firewall to stop other uers from infilitrating your PC whilst connected to the net, stopping most trojans etc. This means any hacker who tries to get access to your computer will be refused. However, as part of this process, you need to spend some time setting up which programs on your computer are allowed to access the internet and which are not, which is a bit of a bind. Secondly, it prevents children from accessing websites that you do not wish them to access, using a filter program that has some success. However, like many filter programs you may find this more of a curse than a blessing, as it will only block sites in its database, thus missing lots of potentially disturbing sites. You also need to keep the list up to date with frequent updates from the web. It also stops them sending personal details over the web, which is more useful. However, again it takes some time to set this up - you have to type in all the numbers (e.g. phone numbers, credit card numbers) that you don't want sending over the net, plus things like your address, and this takes a lot of effort initially. However, once set up the whoe thing works well. Finally, it can block many (though not all) unwanted ads from appearing on web sites, thus making web pages apear quicker. It updates itself automatically from the internet. It is especially worthwhile if you are connected to the web for long periods of time, or if it is used by children. However, it is a bit difficult to use sometimes as it keeps popping up asking if you want to accept cookies or configure new rules - it takes a while to learn your browsing habits. Available for around £40 from most computer shops, it also includes Norton Antivirus free.
Can software be too user friendly and over simplified? Well in my opinion that is the case with Symantec's Internet security 2000. The world of PC's is hellishly complicated with everything from bits to bytes designed to confuse and confuddle at every turn. So it's hardly surprising that a company should start to make a living from providing products that hide the workings behind a nice pleasant facade. Symantec the guys who run the Norton brand are masters at this with many successful products like Norton anti virus and system works to name just a few, but just occasionally there is a subject that no matter how hard you try is just not meant to be simplified. Ok so you're thinking why would I even need to consider a firewall, that's something for big companies to deal with right? Well yes sort of but as you spend more time on the web the risk of problems increases. I'll take my web use as an example, when I had a dial up pay by the minute connection I'd dial up pick up email check a few sites and get off as quickly as possible. Then along came free evening and weekend calls soon I'd happily sit online for 2 or 3 hours a night, now with un-metered access that's more like most days for 4 – 5 hrs. So I'm a net addict but why should that cause me to be at any higher risk from those nasty people out there? It's a law of averages if you sit on the Net for hours on end the chances of your machine being looked at increase. While the vast majority of Net users are normal law abiding types there are some (mainly kids) who just enjoy trying to get into peoples machines. You've all seen the film "War games" well its not quite that glamorous, far more likely to be a kid in Burnley sitting in his bedroom with some freely available software. Most "Hackers" won't even bother with home PC's they're trying to save the world by uncoverin
or no each time you go to a new site. Privacy Privacy on the net almost sounds like a joke, it's a bit like going clubbing and hoping no one will see you! But you don't have to give out personal information like your email address if you don't want to. This section allows you to block the release of information to sites until you allow it, it is quite common for a browser to give your email address to sites upon request unless you block it, again Norton offers a tick box to set this protection. Within this screen you can also enter confidential information you never wish to give out. For example you phone number, if stored in Norton's directory if you try and fill in a form with your phone number it will ask you if you are sure you want to send this via the web. A very useful little reminder, I store my credit card details so it always prompts me to check for a secure site before making a transaction. Parental Control This is a section I don't use (please don't ask why...lol) it allows you to block specific websites or types of site, Norton can use live update to pick up the latest list of URL's from Symantec's central database. Of course all the sections can be password protected to keep little fingers away from the settings! Add Blocking This section has never really worried me until I read about the DooYoo pop ups upsetting everyone, luckily Norton was blocking them and in fact all of the banner adverts. This is great if you don't want to be bombarded with ads while surfing. It is also a good way of increasing your surfing speed as you don't have to download the adverts on each page, over a long session this can add up to a significant amount. Norton makes each of these sections easy with a slider for overall settings i.e. low or medium or tick boxes and drop down lists for individual items. And there in lies my problem with Norton,
protecting your PC requires you to learn a little about firewalls and the Internet, with a little knowledge you might want to delve deeper into Norton and the "advanced!" settings. There's nothing to be scared of as Norton is based on a very well respected product called "Atguard" and all Symantec did was buy AtGuard and bolt on a simple GUI (graphical user interface). After the initial set-up of sliders and click boxes you then progress to work directly with the firewall and create your own rules, this however is far from simple. The advanced settings are much more like windows explorer and look quite daunting at first but all you have to remember is that a firewall is just a list of rules. For example rule 1 may be allow Internet explorer to use the Internet, rule 2 might be to block any other programmes using the Internet. So these two rules together would allow you to surf freely but would stop someone using a chat programme or email. Norton tries to help you here by auto creating rules, so if a new programme tries to access the web it will inform you and ask you to create a rule. You can then choose to allow or block this and give the rule a name so you can find it in future. This got me thinking and after a few nights of playing around in the depths of the Firewall I came to an astounding conclusion, of the 176 rules that Norton had created I needed only 30! The vast majority are for blocking Trojans (a form of virus) from entering your computer, each one is set to block a different port and has a name like "hack attack Trojan" I created just one rule to block all connections inbound or outbound and moved all the programmes I wanted to allow access above this new rule. This allowed me to remove over a hundred rules for blocking Trojans, without all these rules to process my Internet processing speed increased noticeably. So why all the rules? The scepti
c in me says it's a marketing ploy so when you look into the firewall settings you can see just how many nasties you are protected from. This is just one example of an excellent product "AtGuard" which did need an improved front end being over simplified for use by punters that are too lazy to learn a little about the net before diving in. That for me is the real crux of the matter, like many things in life you get out what you put in, sure you can create a website using Microsoft front page but at least they have the ability to view the HTML and start to learn about what you are doing. Norton's products hide all the nitty gritty from you and leave you with sliders and tick boxes and when you do open the bonnet so to speak you're confronted with a standard windows environment some jargon and quite a mess to clear up! So what other choices are there, I'd recommend Zone alarm its free to personal users and is as effective as Norton if not quite as user friendly at first, but with a little effort you'll be writing your own firewall rules in no time. Please don't get me wrong Norton is a good product but for £30 it's squarely aimed at those who just want to set a few sliders and forget it's there. It will work and will protect your machine on the web but by spending a little time increasing your knowledge there are other products you will be able to use for free! ©Lordpercy 2001 Further reading www.symantec.co.uk (Norton's Website) www.zonelabs.com (Info and downloads) www.grc.com (An independent guide to web security)
John Veldthuis from New Zealand the original author of this superb virus checker/killer programme for the Amiga, was forced to give up upgrading it due to lack of time. Earning a living came first. For a time it was taken over by another New Zealander who never actually got to grips with upgrading, again due to the need to earn a living. The source code was passed to Alex van Niel in The Netherlands without charge so that he could continue to upgrade as new viruses appeared. Since then Alex has kept the virus killer up to date and for a mere £10 shareware fee, Amiga users can remain protected from the scourge of the computer world. VC will still protect a system from viruses without paying the shareware fee as the £10 buys a `key' which unlocks additional functions. Like checking files which have been archived and/or packed thus negating the need to un-archive or un-pack them first. Apart from being able to identify and remove all known viruses written to run on an Amiga, Virus Checker has one neat function. That is it can be configured to monitor any named files on the hard drive so that if a `NEW' link virus comes along VC will put up a message to say that file xxx has been altered. It is then up to the user to save the infected file and send it to Alex and replace the infected file with a known good one. It is usual to have VC launched during the boot-up routine so that it is running in the background right from the word go. Alex is currently working on the next generation of Virus Checker with a beta version available for use and it, and the current VC, can be downloaded from:- http://www.vht-dk.dk The site also has PC anti-virus programmes.
Norton Internet Security Is Symantec's Offering for a personal firewall. This product was originally AtGuard's, but Symantec took over the company and re-labelled the software as its own. The program installs very easily, using Microsoft Window Installer (that used in Office 200). Once installed you can set up accounts for different users, say if you want your children not being able to send certain information across the 'net (such as your home address) you can enable this. You can used the many built-in templates, such as "teenager" and "supervisor". Or you can leave this feature alone if you don't want the hassle, or don't have children. Like many personal firewalls, NIS works on a probgram-by-program basis. You can make each program ask for priveledges before it can communicate, or you can let NIS decide which applications you should let through. Me being a sceptic, I decide what can go through the firewall. Yet, all this comes at a price, around £45 for your own copy, but they do offer a trial version at their website, so you can try it for a month before parting with your pennies. The basic interface is simple and easy to set up. But the advanced features are harder to get to grips with, and there's the possibilty you could damage your Internet connecytion if you apply the wrong settings. Another great feature (although many big companies will hate me for saying this) is the advert blocker. We've all seen those annoying adverts that take longer to download than the actual page itself. Well NIS looks for certain things in an image on a web page, for example if the image is stored in a folder called "ads" it will tell the browser not to download it, making i faster to surf. Although I have found this has restricted access to some sites, where the page appears blank. I've mentioned the privacy feature briefly, basically what is does is it chec
ks what information is sent across the Internet, and prompts or disallows the information to be sent. You could use this to make sure your credit card details aren't sent out to dodgy websites etc. This program is excellent for worried parents since they can specify what sites, and programs can be used on the 'net and what information can be given out. Where NIS really shines is how you can control which ports each application has access to. This is really for the more technical, and the extremely weary. For example, your browser only needs access to a few ports to work, so any other ports aren't needed and can be blocked. Also NIS can try to work out how to configure itself to each application by its in-built library of program definitions. All in all, a great product, albeit a little difficult to set up. It's a shame about the price tag when there are cheaper alternatives (such as the free Zone Alarm) around.
The latest offering from the Syamntec stable gives us protection while we are surfing the World Wide Web. For the novices out there (and I include myself in this category) the main purpose of this program is to provide a firewall protection between you and the network of computers that you hook up to when you are surfing. The firewall acts like a security guard and checks everything that leaves and enters the network. This sounds complicated but in reality it isn't. Most of the predefined settings you don't have to touch when you install the program you can surf in safety straight away. Other features include a parental control option that allows you control what children can and can't see, an ad blocking function that does exactly what it says and it is claimed makes pages load faster and the tried and trusted Live Update feature that allows you update the firewall settings via the Syamntec web site in exactly the same way as the other Norton products. As a bonus the Antivirus 2000 is included in the price and provides a good level of protection for your PC. Overall, the package itself is a good one especially if you don't possess any Antivirus software. If you do, it is still worth considering although it may be a pricey.