Norton 360 Advanced achieved perfect protection ratings in the latest anti-malware tests from multiple labs, but was unexpectedly prone to false positives. The package delivers great protection with tons of features and excellent virus protection at a low price – but watch out for steep renewal costs.
- Perfect malware protection
- Wide range of features
- Includes full VPN
- 200GB of online backup storage
- High false positive rate in some tests
- Expensive renewal rates
- Cloud storage: 10-200GB of storage for cloud backups is included, depending on subscription tier. Norton 360 Advanced comes with 200GB
- VPN:A full version of Norton Secure VPN comes as part of a Norton 360 Advanced or Deluxe subscription
- Webcam protection:Norton alerts you if any suspicious application tries to access to your webcam
- Parental controls:Time limits and content filtering for children of various ages
Norton is a venerable name in antivirus, and its malware-detection engine is among the most widely tested – which means we have plenty of solid, long-term evidence of its performance.
Norton products no longer bear the Symantec brand. That’s because the Symantec name (along with all of the firm’s enterprise-grade endpoint security software and services) was bought by chipmaker Broadcom in 2019.
The remains of the company formerly known as Symantec rebranded as NortonLifeLock. LifeLock was an identity theft protection service bought by Symantec in 2017, and has now been hideously mashed into the Norton name. However, UK users will find that NortonLifeLock products are still primarily advertised under the “Norton” brand, as most of LifeLock’s identity protection services aren’t available outside the US.
NortonLifeLock exclusively provides consumer security, antivirus and identity protection services. In 2022, it bought previously independent antivirus firm Avira. The company is currently trying to to buy another antivirus firm, Avast (which also owns AVG) pending an inquiry by the British Competition and Markets Authority.
The controversial Norton Crypto Ethereum mining pool isn’t currently available to UK users. Should this feature appear in future updates, be warned that not only is it environmentally destructive, irrelevant to your online security, and liable to place wear on your PC’s components, but also that Norton skims off an unusually high coin mining fee that’s likely to eat whatever marginal profits you might gain over your electricity expenditure.
Norton is clearly a behemoth of the home antivirus world, but can it hold its place as one of the best antivirus suites around?
I’m reviewing Norton 360 Advanced, the most expensive, most feature-packed version of the suite. This used to be called Norton 360 Premium, and retail keys for that product will convert into Norton 360 Advanced subscriptions.
There are also Standard and Deluxe tiers, as well as the cheaper Norton Antivirus Plus. As you’d expect, the more you pay for the service, the more features you get; but the number of devices on which you can install the software depends on which product you buy.
Norton Antivirus Plus gets you malware protection, a password manager, and entry-level online backup storage for a single Windows PC. Norton 360 Standard gets those features too, with 50GB of storage, parental controls and webcam protection against unexpected apps trying to access your camera. This is all for one PC, running either Windows or macOS.
Norton 360 Deluxe adds Dark Web monitoring to alert you if information associated with your email address is being traded on the dark web, and School Time distraction management tools to lock down unauthorised programs for children engaged in remote learning. This tier covers five Windows, macOS, Android or iOS devices.
Finally, Norton 360 Advanced covers 10 devices and adds Identity Restoration Support, an extra tier where NortonLifeLock staff will help you resolve issues with banks and merchants if you’re the victim of identity theft, as well as Social Media Monitoring, which watches over you or your children’s Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram accounts for scams, inappropriate content, impersonation or harassment.
Getting an initial year’s Norton subscription from the official website is conspicuously cheap, but watch out for those renewal fees. Norton 360 Advanced costs £39.99 for the first year, but then goes up to £149.99 for subsequent years.
Go to Amazon (or any other online or high-street retailer that sells Norton codes) and you’ll find a 15-month subscription for the same service for £22.04. So you’re best buying codes at retail, and you’ll definitely want to disable automatic renewals. When you activate a product key, you’re prompted to enable automatic renewal by default, but it’s possible to cancel this.
Setup and Usability
- Requires personal details to monitor breaches
- Includes granular firewall controls
At install time, you’re prompted to join Norton CommunityWatch, which sends back data for analysis. This is generally beneficial, but should be avoided if you work with confidential or privileged documents. I appreciated how clearly it was signposted and presented as an opt-in, rather than opt-out, choice.
Once installed, Norton 360 Advanced prompts you to add email addresses, bank details, addresses and any other personal information you’d like to have it monitor for inclusion in breaches traded on the dark web. Further initial setup steps encourage to you activate online backups, configure the VPN to automatically enable itself if you connect to a network it regards as untrustworthy, and add more devices to your account.
Norton 360’s firewall is automatically activated, and I was pleased to note that it’s stopped automatically, blocking RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) sessions by default under certain conditions. It isn’t as nice to use as ESET’s firewall interface, but it offers a significant improvement over the one that comes with Windows. Norton’s firewall controls are clear and highly granular, with a few smart options to help protect against man-in-the-middle attacks and the ability to set per-interface trust levels.
While Norton’s core real-time system security features are enabled by default, including real-time browser protection, you’ll have to set up some features manually. This includes the Safe Web browser plugin that warns against potentially malicious search results and phishing sites, and Norton’s own unnecessarily intrusive Safe Search and default home page options – I suggest avoiding the latter two.
I’m pleased to note that there’s a silent mode too, so you don’t have to be bothered by alert pop-ups; but you can enable it for only a maximum of one day at a time.
There’s no integrated rescue disk creator, but a bootable recovery tool is available to download for free in case a catastrophic malware attack prevents you from getting into Windows.
- Protects against 100% malware
- Falsely identified legitimate applications
Norton 360 is excellent at protecting you against malware, but recent test results indicate that it might also try to “protect” you against some legitimate software.
In the latest SE Labs real-world malware exposure tests, at least, it protected against 100% of infections, with no false positives. Two months of testing by AV-Test was almost the same, with just a single false positive.
|Testing facility||AV-TEST||AV Comparatives||SE Labs|
|Real-World Threat Protection||100%||100%||100%|
However, although it detected 100% of malware in the most recent AV Comparatives real-world test, it also falsely identified 35 legitimate applications
Norton 360 has repeatedly been shown to be extremely effective, but may require more configuration, hand-holding and whitelisting of legitimate software than some rivals. If you avoid its auto-renewal options, it’s competitively priced and comes with an excellent range of bonus features, including an acceptably decent VPN.
Should you buy it?
If staying safe online is your priority
It’s hard to argue with those scores, but be aware that Norton 360 might protect you against legitimate, as well as malicious, software.
You want a free antivirus
Despite its excellent performance results, Microsoft Defender Antivirus offers similar results despite being built into Windows 10 and Windows 11 at no extra charge.
Independent testing proves that Norton 360’s antivirus protection claims are impeccable. It’s cheap, if you stick to third-party retailers for your subscription renewals, and extra features such as the password manager, parental controls and a VPN mean that Norton 360 Advanced stands out from the pack.
How we test
We use every antivirus suite ourselves, so we can check out their various features, from scanning options to integrated extras such as parental controls. The results we use to assess malware detection performance come from reputable testing houses including AV-Test, AV Comparatives and SE Labs.
We download and use the software ourselves to test the included features
We use data from trusted and approved testing houses to determine the malware detection performance
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Norton 360 Advanced is the most premium tier in the Norton antivirus suite.
LifeLock offers more features to the Norton 360 package, but it’s not available outside of the US.