As the name suggests, Norton's AntiVirus Plus gives you the basics you'd expect from a basic antivirus suite plus more. Included extra features with Plus have a firewall, a spam filter, a password manager, hosted online backup, a vulnerability scanner, and other less notable inclusions.
Added features are great, but they need to be useful. More importantly, does the malware protection protect the end user against threats?
Works with: Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android
To use full-featured product, you have to purchase a license. 14 day free trial available.
An immediate complaint that can be leveled at AntiVirus Plus is that it costs more than many of its competitors for a single license. Currently, Plus costs 60 USD for a single license per year.
The competition typically costs 40 USD. It can be argued that Plus includes more features, which is a valid point. That said, Bitdefender and Trend Micro charge 60 USD for three licenses.
AntiVirus Plus does include the option to purchase additional licenses at a discount, something they didn't offer in the past. The end user will pay 85 USD to protect up to five devices. This is a significant discount but is still shy of the industry standard of 70 USD. Still, Norton does give access to far more features than many of its competitors.
Installation and Appearance
Downloading and installing the product is simple and efficient like any other in the modern era. Simplicity in terms of installation has now become a gold standard, and a standard AntiVirus Plus meets and surpasses.
An excellent addition to the installation is enabling cloud storage for backups. With a simple click, users can start backing up their important data from the get-go, leaving little room for the end user to forget to do this downline after installation.
Upon starting the application, you are greeted with a very classy-looking interface. The interface includes an image of a desk, complete with a keyboard and houseplant, that is both artistic and pleasant but does not distract from the use of the app.
On the left, the interface consists of five components: Device Security, Software Updater, Secure Browser, Cloud Backup, and Password Manager. In addition to offering one-click access to each, it displays the status.
Basic user flow is best illustrated when clicking Device Security, which instantly navigates the user to that component. The white background with green and black tests will be something Norton's users have come to expect over the years.
Once the user has navigated to Device Security, they are presented with large panels showing their status in five areas: Security, Internet Security, Backup, Performance, and My Norton. The rest of the app follows the same flow and general user experience, which is good.
As for scanning options, you have plenty of easily customizable choices to suit your needs. Standard scans typically take around 25 minutes but are thorough. The initial scan can take two hours, which is long by any standard. Fortunately, this full system scan only takes place on launch.
Independent Lab Results
In summary, Norton's products scored quite well when independently tested by the three main labs we follow. These are AV-TEST, AV-Comparatives, and SE Labs. All three have been tested in Norton AntiVirus or products built with the same anti-malware engine as the product reviewed recently.
AV-TEST conducts three separate tests that test Protection, Performance, and Usability. The tested product is given a score out of six on each test; the higher, the better. In the most recent round of testing conducted in September to October 2023, AntiVirus scored 6 in Protection, 5.5 in Performance, and 6 in Usability. This was enough for the security software to receive the lab's Top Product award.
Regarding AV-Comparatives, they do several tests, but of particular importance to this article are three. These are the Real-World Protection Test, Performance, and Malware Protection Test. In the Real-World Protection Test, AntiVirus Plus was awarded the Advanced award, the lab's second-best award.
The first is Advanced+. Norton products have received the top award in the past, which is a blip in an otherwise stellar historical record. The same can be said for the Malware Protection Test, where the product was awarded Advanced but has achieved Advanced+ several times. AntiVirus Plus broke the current trend in the Performance Test and was awarded Advanced+.
SE Labs conducts various tests that score the product tested on two main parameters: Protection Accuracy, and Legitimate Accuracy, which are then combined to give a Total Accuracy rating. Norton's tested product scored 100% in both categories, reaching a perfect score and thus was rewarded with the lab's highest award of an AAA Rating.
In summary, Norton performed well, if not up to historical standards. This is likely an outlier and has happened to several reputable security software developers. While the scores are not perfect, they are still good no matter how you cut them.
AntiVirus Plus comes with several notable features that deserve special mention. Of those, the improved phishing protection over previous versions, the web browser protection, and data protection geared towards ransomware protection are stand-outs.
Improved Phishing Protection
Previous versions of Norton's product drew much criticism regarding their ability to protect against phishing attacks. Granted, as the creation of phishing lures, such as websites, can be done faster than anyone can take them down, defending against such a threat is no easy task.
AntiVirus Plus works by applying two methodologies: blocking access to known dangerous URLs and scanning the webpage to see what information the intended web form will harvest. This scanning is called Scam Insight by the company, which will warn the end user. The warning notes that while the page has no known threats, it asks for personal information and has suspicious characteristics so that the end user can proceed with caution.
Web Browser Protection
Included with AntiVirus is a complete web protection module. This operates as a toolbar within your browser and must be installed. This is recommended to the end user upon installation.
When using a web search, be it Google or any other search engine, the end user will see a green, orange, red, or gray icon next to the links in search results. These identify safe, suspect, dangerous, and unknown URLs. You can point to an icon for a pop-up with more details and click the pop-up for a full report on the link.
Norton also provides their own Chromium-based browser for those who want security added by default to their web browsing. It comes with the installed password manager, Norton Home Page and Norton Safe Search. It's important to note that Norton Safe Web doesn't appear because this browser's built-in Web Shield takes its place.
Norton's Data Protection module is designed to prevent unauthorized modification of documents in specified directories. It actively protects against ransomware that may have gotten through the initial malware protection measures from malicious encrypting data.
This means that when you add a new application or software package, you must add it to a whitelist of trusted applications. It is a minor inconvenience when compared to having ransomware run rampant on your machine.
Along with the above-mentioned features, Norton includes one of the best Firewall modules offered today. This adds significant value to the product along with those features mentioned above. In general, AntiVirus Plus does come highly recommended. It has some things to consider, like higher than average cost and less than perfect results in recent lab tests.
Appearance of Norton AntiVirus Plus: