Norton 360 Antivirus review: is it secure enough?
The Norton 360 security suite is hailed as one of the best antivirus programs around, and it ranks #1 on our best antivirus list. It has excellent malware detection rates, offers good real-time protection, and is possibly the most feature-rich antivirus application. But what security features does Norton’s security suite offer? And what’s the difference between Norton’s Standard, Deluxe and Premium plans?
I’ve tested it out and put together an in-depth Norton 360 review to tell you everything you need to know about this security suite and help you decide if it’s the right antivirus product for you.
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Norton 360 antivirus pros and cons
- Best in class antivirus protection
- One of the richest feature suites
- 100% protection against all forms of malware
- Secure VPN and password manager included
- Excellent mobile app
- Parental control features
- Not the cheapest and no free version
- Being prompted to open additional tabs and apps is annoying
Is Norton 360 safe?
Not only Norton antivirus is safe, but it also has a long history of perfect (or near-perfect) virus detection results. Even during the most recent testing period (October 2020), it managed to score a maximum of 6 points in Protection, Performance, and Usability.
In other words, Norton security suite caught 100% of zero-day malware, detected no false positives, and had less impact on computer speed than many other antivirus programs. This makes their malware protection untouchable.
Other independent experts also revealed that Norton 360 doesn’t stop functioning even after deleting some of its files, closing down the app’s processes, and unloading drivers.
A test with custom-made ransomware was also a success for Norton: the antivirus program detected the attack in seconds.
Norton 360 security features
Of course, the main thing people want to know about antivirus software is the security features it offers. And luckily Norton 360 comes with one of the most impressive security suites on the market. It boasts real-time threat protection, an advanced firewall, and access to Norton’s VPN.
But what else does Norton’s security suite have to offer? Read on for a full overview of Norton 360 security features.
Real-time threat protection
Norton 360 uses some clever artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to monitor all manner of online threats, protecting your devices against viruses, malware, spyware and ransomware.
Norton 360 software comes with the option to install the Norton toolbar with Norton Safe Web on your browsers. Once you’ve installed it, you’ll find that, whenever you perform a web search, there will be an icon next to each search result to indicate how safe it is:
- Green means it’s perfectly safe to click on
- Grey indicates an unknown URL
- Yellow is a potential risk
- Red is a risky site.
If you want to find out more, you can click on the icon to read a full report on the link.
Even more impressive, this system also works in Twitter and Facebook feeds, as well as web-based emails. And while this sounds like it might be obtrusive and would just clutter your feeds with extra icons, all it does is highlight any risky links in red to keep you safe without impeding your user experience.
Elsewhere, we found the Norton 360 Isolation Mode pretty useful. This handy feature lets you visit a potentially risky site without it causing harm to your machine. It does this by rendering the web page on Norton’s server, thereby stripping it of any dangerous content before presenting it to you. It also stops you from sharing any sensitive data with the potentially harmful website to keep your information safe. Norton antivirus security leaves no gaps for vulnerabilities.
Norton 360 opens supported financial sites in Isolation Mode for added security. It’s worth noting that this makes it appear to a banking website that you’re logging in on a new device. So have your security answers ready.
Norton 360 also defends against ransomware by protecting your documents against modification by an unknown program.
Norton Secure VPN
When you sign up for a Norton 360 package, you’ll get access to Norton’s Secure VPN as part of your plan. For those of you wondering, a VPN (or virtual private network) hides your IP address to stop anyone from being able to trace your location, identity, or find out what you're doing online.
And it encrypts all your online data to protect you from hackers and to ensure your online activity remains private. This is particularly useful if you use public Wi-Fi, which is usually not secure and can leave you vulnerable to hacks. It can also be a vital tool for those who need to stay anonymous or for anyone who values their online privacy.
Using Norton Secure VPN is really simple and easy because it’s fully integrated with Norton’s security software. So you don’t need to download an extra app. It’s just there on your Norton home screen.
When you switch it on, it connects automatically to the fastest server outside your country. However, if you want to choose which country you want to connect to access region-restricted content, you can do this manually. By the way, Norton's VPN allowed me to access the geo-restricted content on Netflix (UK and US). This is great, as not all VPNs are able to do this.
In addition, I did not detect any DNS or IP address leaks, which means that you're truly safe when using Norton VPN. I also liked that the VPN blocked all the ads during my session.
My main complaint with Norton Secure VPN is that it's not very feature-rich and has no kill switch. If the VPN drops out, you’ll still get a warning from Norton. But in the meantime, your real IP address will be immediately exposed. Don't forget that a VPN doesn't give you malware protection.
Also, it seems that Norton VPN blocks P2P traffic, as I was unable to download an Ubuntu installer through BitTorrent with the VPN enabled.
Most firewalls work by preventing outside attacks from accessing your computer via your internet connection. But the Norton Smart Firewall is a two-way silent firewall that works by monitoring the network traffic that’s both sent and received on your computer whenever you’re online.
Norton then uses the two-way silent firewall to offer intrusion protection. It works by monitoring internet traffic and protecting against unwanted communication. This will help keep your machine safe from intrusion attacks.
Aside from that, Norton Smart Firewall offers a vulnerability assessment feature. This works by sussing out any way in which a cybercriminal could potentially attack your machine and guarding against them. This is a very reassuring feature, as vulnerabilities appear anywhere from your operating system software and applications to weak passwords.
Norton’s vulnerability assessment will constantly monitor these vulnerabilities and warn you if one is discovered anywhere on your computer. It’ll then make a recommendation to help you resolve the problem. It may, for example, suggest downloading and installing the latest updated version of your operating software. Or it might warn you if a link leads to a potentially threatening site. So it’s great for your peace of mind, it's Norton Internet Security standard.
Norton password manager
Another handy feature included in the Norton 360 security suite is access to its password manager. A password manager is one of the most useful online tools, as it means you only ever have to remember one password that’ll log you into the encrypted vault.
Aside from the benefit of not having to fill in all your login details whenever you want to access any of your online accounts, it means that you can choose more secure passwords, which will mean you’re far less likely to get hacked. After all, if you don’t have to remember your password, you can make it as complicated and random as you like.
Norton Password Manager is one of the better non-dedicated password managers I’ve tested. When testing it out, I found Norton Password Manager performed all the tasks I needed from it, including password replay, filling in web forms, password capture and syncing across Windows, Android and iOS devices. It assesses the strength of all your passwords and warns you whenever your password isn’t strong enough.
It’s easy to set up and you can add it on other devices by scanning a QR code. You can add existing accounts really easily and manage them all in one place. And whenever you create a new account, it’ll automatically add your login details to the password manager.
Our only gripe with it is that it doesn’t offer two-factor authentication, which would make it even more secure.
Norton’s PC cloud backup
Norton’s Cloud Backup feature provides you with secure remote storage for all your important documents.
You’ll get a different amount of cloud backup space depending on what plan you sign up for. We’ll explain this in more detail a bit further down. But whichever plan you choose, you’ll get a very generous amount, particularly compared to the competition.
Norton’s cloud backup is incredibly convenient. It makes it really easy to access your files on your computer, phone, or on any other device you use to access the internet. So you won’t ever lose your data if your machine packs up or gets lost or stolen.
But of course, as with all Norton products, the main reason to use it is to keep your machine safe. And in the case of its PC cloud backup, this will keep your sensitive files and data safe from ransomware.
Hackers can use ransomware to encrypt your files, forcing you to pay for the encryption key in order to restore your data. And so using cloud backup is a very helpful way to defend against this threat. Because your files are safely backed up on Norton’s servers, even if anyone does manage to access them, you’ll still have copies safely stored.
Like the rest of Norton’s features, its cloud backup is really easy to set up and use. When setting it up, Norton allows you to choose which files you want to back up and how often you want this to happen. You can schedule backups on a weekly or monthly basis. Or you can use the automatic backup option, which backs up your files whenever you’re not using your computer. This minimises the chance of you losing any data without slowing down your machine when you’re trying to use it.
SafeCam for PC
One of the handiest features offered by Norton is its SafeCam protection. If you’ve got a webcam, cybercriminals can potentially use spyware to take photos with your webcam without your knowledge. This could lead to blackmail or worse. Norton’s SafeCam works by blocking unauthorised access to your PC webcam to keep you safe from this threat.
It does this by alerting you to untrusted apps that are trying to access your camera, allowing you the chance to block it before it does any damage.
In practice, it’s actually pretty unobtrusive. By default, SafeCam automatically allows safe apps to access your camera, so it’s not often that you’ll get bothered by alerts. And if you do get an alert, you can choose to always allow or always block the app from accessing your webcam. So you’ll only ever be prompted once for each app.
When we tested it out, SafeCam worked really well and gave us the peace of mind of knowing that our webcam is safe from spyware.
If you buy Norton 360 Deluxe or Norton 360 Premium, you also get the parental control feature as a separate app called Norton Family.
Norton Family allows you to select the devices your children use and set up different rules for each child. In addition, it offers a few restriction levels for different age groups. You will also get a warning when an inappropriate website is accessed.
What’s more, Norton Family has just released a new feature called Shool-Time. It lets you limit your children’s online activity during certain hours by letting them access only whitelisted websites and categories.
To make sure that Norton Family truly works, I enabled it and tried to access adult-oriented content. Luckily, the app didn’t allow me to open these websites - even though it was set to only give me a warning, not to block pages entirely. It also blocked adult images on Google image results, which means they could not be loaded at all.
However, I found out that the Parental Control feature is not 100% compatible with Norton’s VPN, as the VPN connection interfered with Parental Control’s ability to block ads that contained mature content.
Dark Web Monitoring
You can sign into the Dark Web Monitoring feature of Norton 360 on their official website with your Deluxe or Premium account.
Dark Web Monitoring will let you know if any of your credentials (bank accounts, credit card details, phone numbers, addresses, etc.) have been compromised on dark websites and forums since 2008.
To test the Dark Web monitoring feature, I found a breached email online. It was involved in 15 data breaches according to ihavebeenpwned.com. Unfortunately, I did not get any alerts regarding this email’s security from Norton’s Dark Web feature.
While this test is not completely accurate (since there is no way of knowing if this information was posted on the dark web), the feature’s inability to spot the email as vulnerable is a bit disappointing.
Norton Crypto is a brand new PC feature added to the Norton 360 package. It allows you to add your device to a crypto-mining pool and to safely mine cryptocurrencies during your computer’s idle time.
Currently, the program lets you mine Ethereum (ETH). And, as soon as you earn some cryptocurrency, you can transfer it to your cloud-based Norton Crypto Wallet. However, the provider has a 15% mining fee that is deducted from the crypto you get.
While the profitability of Ethereum isn’t stable, Norton’s Crypto tool can be a good starting point for users who want to learn mining. However, keep in mind that this feature is only supported on Windows 10, 11, 8, and 7.
Overall, Norton Crypto is an opt-in feature, so if you’re not interested in such phenomenon, you can simply not enable it. But, if you fancy trying it out, you can turn it on in the “My Norton” window.
Plans and pricing
So Norton 360 offers a lot of excellent security features. But how much does it cost? Well, there are three Norton 360 plans. Let’s break them down and look at what they offer and how much they cost.
|Norton 360 Standard||Real-time protection, PC Cloud Backup (10GB), Firewall, Password Manager, Secure VPN, SafeCam for PC, Dark Web Monitoring||$19.99|
|Norton 360 Deluxe||Everything from the Standard plan + PC Cloud Backup (50GB), coverage for up to five devices, Parental Control||$39.99|
|Norton 360 with LifeLock Select||Everything from the Deluxe plan + PC Cloud Backup (100GB), Privacy Monitor, LifeLock Identity Alert System, Stolen Wallet Protection||$99.48|
|Norton 360 Premium (not available in the US)||Everything from the Deluxe plan + PC Cloud Backup (75GB), coverage for up to ten devices||£44.99|
Norton 360 Standard
Norton 360 Standard (also called Norton AntiVirus Plus in select regions) is Norton’s most basic plan. It costs $19.99 for the first year and can be used on one device. So, it’s probably not the best choice for you if you’re looking for something to keep all your devices safe.
Considering it’s the basic plan, we were impressed to find that Norton 360 Standard does still offer most of the same security features as the Deluxe and Premium options. The two most important features it’s missing are the Parental Control and School Time features. So it’s perhaps not the best option if you’ve got young kids. But if you live on your own and just want to protect one device, the Standard plan should work fine.
After all, it has all the other security features Norton has to offer, including PC cloud backup of up to 10GB. And it also comes with Norton’s 100% Virus Protection Promise, which means that, if Norton can’t fix your virus issue, you’ll get money back.
Here’s a full list of everything included in the Norton 360 Standard Plan:
- Anti-spyware, antivirus, malware and ransomware protection
- PC Cloud Backup- up to 10GB
- Firewall for PC and Mac
- Password Manager
- 100% Virus Protection Promise
- Secure VPN
- SafeCam for PC
- Dark Web Monitoring
Norton 360 Deluxe
At $39.99 for the first year, there seems to be little reason not to choose the Norton 360 Deluxe instead of its most basic offering. For almost the same price as the standard plan, you can protect up to five devices, which gives you a lot more flexibility.
You also get 50GB of PC cloud backup, meaning you can protect five times as many files as you can on the Norton Antivirus Plus. You also get access to Norton’s parental controls, which is really useful if you have kids. Of course, it goes without saying that you’ll also get access to Norton 360 Deluxe full suite of security features listed above.
Norton 360 with LifeLock Select
Norton 360 with LifeLock Select is quite a big jump up in price. So what do you get for your extra subscription fee? The answer is "quite a lot," starting with 100 GB of cloud storage. However, the unique selling proposition behind LifeLock is identity theft protection. Here are some of the features that come with it:
- Privacy Monitor - scans the web looking for your publicly available personal data
- LifeLock Identity Alert System - notifies you when your personal details have been used in a suspicious manner online
- U.S.-based Identity Restoration Specialists - Norton 360 provides experts to help in the event of an identity theft
- Stolen Wallet Protection - will cancel your credit cards, driver's license, and other documents if your wallet is stolen
Norton 360 Premium
Instead of Norton with LifeLock Select, customers in countries outside the US can get Norton 360 Premium, which costs approximately $10 more than the Deluxe plan. With the Premium plan, you can protect up to 10 devices. So it’s ideal if you have lots of devices or you want one plan for the whole family.
You also get a whopping 75GB included in your PC cloud backup. Which is incredibly generous, as that’ll protect a lot of files.
Aside from that though, there isn’t much difference between Premium and Deluxe. So unless you’ve got a lot of files and devices you want to keep safe, we’d recommend opting for the Deluxe version, as it’s better value for money.
- If the prices seem too high, check out our post for the best Norton coupon codes: there might be a solid discount available.
Ease of use
Norton 360 offers one of the most comprehensive security suites we’ve tested and it’s pretty reasonably priced for the level of protection you’re getting. But for all that, is it easy to use? Let’s find out.
Norton 360 installation
Norton 360 is pretty easy to download and install. When testing it out, the process didn’t take too long. And within a few minutes, we were up and running. Of course, it does insist on restarting your machine, which is a little annoying if you’re in the middle of something or you have a lot of tabs open. But once you’ve done that, it’s all pretty straightforward.
I tested it on my Mac and it did run into a few teething problems when it came to my permissions. But that’s only to be expected on an Apple device. Luckily, Norton prompted my Mac to open the correct window and gave me instructions on granting Norton the relevant permissions. So everything was downloaded and installed within 10 minutes, which is reasonable.
And as soon as it’s all set up, Norton will give you a guided tour of your software so you know where everything is. And if you ever forget anything, you can refer back to this information any time you like by clicking on the cog icon on the home page.
Norton 360 interface
Norton’s interface is clean and easy to navigate, with all the main features available on the welcome screen. As with all Norton products, you’ll find that far too much space is taken up with aspirational images of people hiking up mountains. However nice this looks, as a user, I’d much prefer that space was used for shortcuts to some of Norton’s other features or more details on my computer’s health. But it’s still a very helpful home screen, with lots of handy options on the right-hand toolbar.
Annoyingly, a lot of Norton’s features open outside the app. So, whether you want to assess your Dark Web Monitoring or add in parental controls, you’ll be redirected to a webpage with more information. Before long, you’ve got lots of Norton tabs open. Which can be a bit frustrating if you like to have everything in one place.
There are lots of customization options available though, which is helpful. And if you get stuck, there are three icons on the home page that’ll help you find what you’re looking for. Hitting the question mark icon will show you a list of popular tasks you might want to perform. The cog icon will allow you to watch the guided tour again. And the chat icon will allow you to leave feedback to help Norton improve its user experience.
Norton 360 mobile app
The Norton Mobile Security app brings Norton’s best security features to your phones. Unfortunately, there’s no free version. But if you’ve signed up for the Norton Deluxe or Premium plan, you can sign into your account on the app and set it up as one of your devices.
And if you just want protection on your phone, you can sign up for the Standard package and use the one device limit on your smartphone. However, as we’ve said before, the Norton Deluxe package can be used on more devices and it costs $10 more than the Standard plan.
It’s really easy to set up and use. It’s got a beautifully simple interface with all the main features available on the homepage. It starts scanning straight away too. So you don’t even need to tell it to start monitoring your privacy and checking for potential threats.
Whenever you open a link, Norton’s Link Guard feature will check if the site is secure in order to keep your phone safe from phishing scams and malicious sites.
Norton’s Android app has a few more features than the iOS Norton app for iPhone. But given Apple’s built-in restrictions, that’s to be expected.
The Norton Mobile Security app comes with some great features, including:
- Web Protection to block fraudulent sites that could potentially steal sensitive data
- Wi-Fi Security, which scans your Wi-Fi connection for possible threats
- System Advisor that will alert you operating system threats
- Safe Search, which will help you to avoid phishing scams and risky sites while you browse the internet
- Privacy Report, which tells you what data your apps share
- Anti Malware scanning and real-time malware protection (Android only)
- App Advisor, which checks apps for privacy and potential battery issues
Our main issue with Norton’s mobile app is a similar issue to our biggest complaint with the desktop version. While the desktop app forces you to open a lot of its features in different tabs, there are a lot of features on Norton Mobile Security you can only use if you download separate apps.
This is really annoying, as it’s much more convenient if everything is included in one app. But it’s not the end of the world. The links to the separate apps are easily located in the Norton Mobile Security app menu.
The Norton Mobile Security features available in separate apps are the:
- Password Manager
- Secure VPN
- Parental Control
Norton offers a range of customer support options if you have any issues. When you first click on the Customer Support page, you’ll find a load of helpful links for popular topics to help you resolve your problem yourself. There’s also a search bar to help you navigate through the many help guides and FAQs.
The FAQs are well organised and there are a lot of them. In fact, some of them are so comprehensive, they take a while to scroll through to find the information you need.
And if you do need to speak to someone, there is more dedicated help available, including live chat and a 24/7 helpline.
Norton doesn’t provide an email support option. But because, as we all know, you’re more likely to get quick help by calling or using a live chat function, this really isn’t the end of the world.
Is Norton 360 any good?
To sum up, Norton 360 is not just good - it is actually among the best antivirus software on the market right now. It provides consistently robust online security and protects devices from pretty much every type of cybersecurity threat out there.
There certainly are cheaper antivirus solutions out there, but there are few that offer such comprehensive cover. And almost none that can offer this level of protection.
Of course, it does come with some added extras, like access to Norton Secure VPN and its password manager. So if you already have another VPN plan and password manager you’re happy with, Norton might not be the best value option for you.
But if security is your primary concern, Norton 360 is about the best choice you can make. It boasts 100% protection against all types of malware. And it offers impressive device security, cloud backup and parental controls. Its mobile app works really well, although it is a little inconvenient that you have to download separate apps if you want to use the VPN, parental controls or password manager on your phone.
This niggle aside, Norton 360 is incredibly efficient, effective and powerful. In fact, we’d probably say that Norton 360 is about the best all-in-one antivirus products money can buy.
See how Norton 360 compares to other antivirus programs
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Here, we’ll answer some of your frequently asked questions about Norton 360 antivirus software.
Is Norton a good antivirus program?
Norton 360 is probably the best antivirus software we’ve tested. It offers 100% protection against all types of malware. And it offers a lot of fantastic security features, including parental controls, cloud backup and access to Norton Secure VPN.
Does Norton software include LifeLock?
Norton 360’s Deluxe and Premium plans come with Dark Web Monitoring Powered by LifeLock. This works by scanning for your personal data on the dark web. So a subscription to a Norton 360 Deluxe or Premium plan includes LifeLock features to protect your sensitive information and keep you safe from online fraud.
Is there a free version of Norton antivirus?
No, there isn’t. But you can download a free 7-day trial to test it out. You do have to enter your card details though, so be sure to remember to cancel your subscription before you get charged.
Will Norton 360 slow down my computer?
It depends. As Norton 360 usually uses between 2 and 10% of the CPU, most users won't experience any slowdowns. However, Norton 360 might affect the computer's performance during CPU-heavy tasks.
Does Norton protect against ransomware?
Yes, Norton can help protect you against ransomware. During independent virus detection tests, Norton 360 managed to quickly detect this kind of threat. The program also lets you backup your sensitive files.
Does Norton protect from hackers?
Yes. Norton 360 implements a lot of measures to protect your device from all sorts of hackers. For example, it offers a firewall, the SafeCam feature, and a VPN.