SAN FRANCISCO (05/26/2000) - High-speed Internet access is wonderful, but an always-on broadband connection leaves your PC vulnerable to bored hackers who may rifle through your data--or worse. Symantec Corp. addresses that risk with Norton Internet Security 2000. This $55 package for the Windows 9x family combines a software firewall, Symantec's robust and easy-to-use Norton AntiVirus 2000 program, and other useful features.
After installing a shipping copy of the hefty 60MB program on a 266-MHz Pentium II system with a DSL connection, I visited the Gibson Research site (grc.com), which maintains utilities that safely probe a PC for security problems. My system failed the tests before I installed Security 2000; it passed them all at the default medium setting, but failed some when I adjusted the protection level to low. (I'd recommend the high setting only if you're truly paranoid and don't mind fielding lots of pop-up alerts.) Experienced users can customize the rules-based firewall's security settings, but Symantec's documentation provides little guidance on how to proceed.
Most people will buy this product for its firewall, but the extras are worthwhile, too. One great feature blocks annoying banner ads at Web sites.
Privacy advocates will appreciate the advanced cookie-blocking tool and the ability to protect specific information (such as credit-card data). Finally, parents can create separate Web-access privileges for each kid.
If you want nothing more than a personal firewall, check out ZoneAlarm, an effective and free offering from Zone Labs (www.zonelabs.com). But factor in the extras (including the $35 antivirus package) and Symantec's price is reasonable if the payoff is a little security in this crazy Internet world.
Low, Medium, High: Norton Internet Security 2000 lets you use an easy slider bar to choose the level of protection you desire.
Norton Internet Security 2000
Pro: Good firewall protection, plenty of useful features.
Con: ZoneAlarm provides comparable firewall protection for free.
Value: Antivirus, ad blocking, privacy, and parental control features add value to firewall protection.
List price: $60; $54 download