“Norton” and “antivirus” are synonymous these days, as the well-established cybersecurity brand has successfully fought against malware, viruses and nasty software threats since 1990.
Since its inception, the evolution of the digital age has brought an alarming increase in cyber threats, from waves of sneaky phishing attacks to dangerous ransomware. So, does Norton still hold its solid line defence? Of course, it does, and the antivirus does it with a fortified suite of security tools.
With excellent antivirus lab test scores, an efficient user interface and a fabulous selection of extra tools in each package, Norton 360 easily earns its title as one of the best antivirus software – even if subscriptions come at a steep cost.
- Superb lab test scores
- Streamlined user interface
- Extra features like Dark Web Monitoring
- Windows PC gets the most benefits
- Subscriptions can be pricey
Norton 360 is best for…
Individuals or families in need of comprehensive antivirus and online privacy tools with an emphasis on trust.
Norton 360 offers excellent antivirus protection and extra features that make for a valuable, all-in-one security product. Its Norton 360 Deluxe and Premium package may cost a pretty penny. Still, with security across multiple platforms, a full-blown VPN, Dark Web Monitoring, Parental Controls and more, it will have a household free of cyber threats.
Norton’s certainty of its antivirus software’s capabilities is clearly defined by the brand’s 100% Virus Protection Promise. If a device protected by Norton 360 can’t get rid of a virus, the user receives their money back. It’s a big claim, but unquestionably, no one should expect to get that refund.
Norton 360 price and subscriptions
Norton 360 comes in various packages for different users, whether you use a device for casual internet browsing or have a high-spec PC for demanding games.
The antivirus brand’s main subscriptions include Norton AntiVirus Plus, Norton 360 Standard, Norton 360 Deluxe and Norton 360 Premium. While these packages can get pricey (especially when it comes to the renewal price), each provides extra perks that make the cost a little more worthwhile.
The Norton AntiVirus Plus package is priced at $39.99 NZD for the first year and $74.99 NZD afterwards. This provides essential security without the bells and whistles, offering protection against malware, viruses, ransomware, spyware and anything in between, along with a firewall, 2GB cloud backup and a password manager. This is more for individuals with a Windows PC or Mac, but there are similar packages available for iPhone and Android phones.
The Norton 360 Standard starts delivering more of an all-in-one package, priced at $74.99 NZD for the first year and $99.99 NZD afterwards. This is for one device – whether it be PC, Mac, iOS or Android – and comes with 10GB of cloud backup, an unlimited Secure VPN and SafeCam for PC.
As for the Norton 360 Deluxe subscription, it will set you back $104.99 NZD for the first year and $154.99 NZD after. This comes with protection for up to three devices, 50GB of backup data, Parental Control, a School Time feature and the always-useful Dark Web Monitoring.
Go a step further for Norton 360 Premium, and you’ll get an impressive 100GB of cloud backup and protection for five devices. This is Norton’s fully featured package, priced at $124.99 NZD for the first year and $204.99 after. With Premium, there’s not much more a customer could want in terms of security tools. Although, it would be better to see Norton pushing the maximum devices it protects to the double digits.
Compared to other paid antivirus services, Norton is a tad on the expensive side. For example, Bitdefender’s Premium Security package will set you back $89.99 AUD (around $98 NZD) for the first year and $199 AUD (around $217 NZD) every year after and McAfee Total Protection ($100.95 NZD first year, $174.95 NZD after) is even less. These come with multiple device usage (past 10 devices) and extra security tools, but Norton 360’s bigger packages come with a few more perks for families.
Norton also brings an antivirus package specifically for gaming, which PC gamers will appreciate. Norton 360 for Gamers will set you back $94.99 NZD for the first year, then $154.99 NZD from then on. It’s similar to Norton 360 Deluxe but brings a Game Optimizer that speeds up your device rather than impacts it due to the antivirus working in the background. For more on if gaming PCs need an antivirus, we’ve got you covered.
How Norton 360 runs
An antivirus’ defences are only as good as its ease of use, and Norton 360 delivers a simple setup with a foolproof user interface.
You can download Norton 360 through its website, which is where I started the setup process. Upon downloading, the installer does a compatibility check to see if there is any other antivirus installed that could hinder its duties. This is similar to Bitdefender, and it’s a great way to quickly get rid of software you don’t need anymore or one’s you didn’t even know you had (like the sneaky McAfee Web Advisor).
You can also opt to join Norton Community Watch, which lets your computer automatically forward security threat information to Norton.
Norton wants its users to stay informed on all types of cybercrime, with its installer even offering a brief slideshow of the different malware and the harm they can cause. Even as you set up each security tool, there can be a small explainer of what it is and what it defends against. This information is essential for all internet users and especially for those unaware.
The My Norton hub is the one-stop shop for managing and getting to Norton 360’s flurry of security tools. From the Product Tour giving users the low-down on making the most of the app, to the handy Software Updater that will quickly scan for anything that requires an update for security purposes, Norton’s hub is well put together and easy to navigate.
In its separate Device Security window, there’s a main display letting you know if your device is protected, along with different tiles leading to Internet Security, Backup and Performance. These will also let you know if users need to set up each section. Dig a little further into Settings, and you can manage notifications, scan scheduling, configure firewall behaviour, manage SafeCam, customise how the antivirus software handles threats and more. Nothing is overly complicated, and I could easily access the security tool I sought.
Part of Norton 360’s hub extends to My Norton in a browser. This hub gives you more web-related security tools, such as options and notifications for Dark Web Monitoring, downloading Norton’s VPN and setting up the Password Manager. The first is especially useful, as you can put your email, phone number and credit card number to see if it’s appeared in any dark web market or forum.
Norton 360 didn’t perform an automatic scan when first installed like other antivirus software, but it’s easy to perform the various scans on offer. Along with the usual Quick Scan and Full Scan, Norton also offers its Power Eraser, which can look for difficult-to-detect scans. This takes longer but is a valuable utility to have when you can’t find what’s wrong with your device.
When performing my first full scan, Norton 360 took 12 minutes and 09 seconds. This is a fast time, and subsequent scans went down to much speedier 9 minutes. To test its performance, I ran a PCMark 10 benchmark before and after installing the antivirus. Initially, my device got an overall score of 4,305. After downloading the antivirus, it scored 4,206. It barely impacted my device’s performance.
What can Norton 360 protect you from?
- Zero-day exploits
- Phishing attacks
- Malicious websites
Norton 360 lab protection tests
Norton 360 scored top marks across multiple lab tests from professional antivirus testing companies, showcasing its strong capabilities.
Researchers at AV-Comparatives test a number of antivirus services, giving them a score from Standard certification to Advanced+ certification. The latter is awarded to software that goes above and beyond just passing tests, and Norton received four Advanced+ certifications. Not as many as Avast or AVG, but still exemplary. It received a near-perfect 99.9% protection rate in the real-world protection test, just behind Avast and AVG (100%). It received a 99.9% online protection rating, an impressive 99.4% online malware detection rate and a could-be-better 85.7% offline detection rating. Only Avast, G Data and McAfee received a 100% protection score. In performance impact, Norton received an impact score of 6.3 (the lower, the better). It placed 11th out of 17 antiviruses tested but received the same score as Bitdefender.
As a side note, Norton for Gamers is bound to have less of an impact, seeing as it’s designed to improve a device’s performance.
|AV-Comparatives||Real-World Protection||Online Malware Protection||Online Detection Rate||Offline Detection Rate||Performance Impact (lower is better)|
As for the AV-Test Institute, Norton got a perfect score, achieving 18 out of 18 points. The researchers score a service based on their protection against malware, impact on a device’s performance, and overall usability. It protected against 100% of zero-day malware attacks, including websites and email threats, and detected 100% of malware discovered in both November and December 2022.
|AV-Test Institute||Malware Protection||Malware Detection||Overall Score|
Researchers at MRG-Effitas use a banking Trojan test and throw different types of malware at it. To pass the first test, the antivirus software needs a perfect score, while the malware test offers two scores: Level 1 for blocking every malware and Level 2 for having some malware slip through but being destroyed in 24 hours. Norton doesn’t appear in these tests, leaving these results uncertain.
|MRG-Effitas||Banking Trojan Test||Malware Test Certification|
|Avast One||Fail||Level 2|
Regardless, Norton is right to make its Virus Protection Promise, as it delivers near-perfect detection and protection scores.
Norton 360 personal tests
With these test results, I expected Norton 360 to knock it out of the park in my personal tests. And, of course, it did. I used a Windows PC for this test.
After executing a malicious file, Norton 360 immediately alerted me that it had detected a threat and removed it. There’s no option to move it to quarantine when alerted; Norton removes the malicious file from harming your device. That’s an efficient antivirus.
The alert appears as a pop-up window from the side of your display, with the option to see further details on the harmful software. This window gives you a full scope of the threat detected, including the threat type, how many other Norton users have encountered the file, how old it is, how risky it is, whether it launched or started up and more. Extensive information gives you all there is to know about the file.
What’s more, it shows you the origin of the file (in this case, a website), along with the virus’ file path and activity. There is the option to restore the file if you know it can be trusted, too.
Norton 360 also has a browser extension bundle through its Norton Safe Web tool. It keeps your personal information safe from phishing and other risky sites, has Website Ratings that warn of risky downloads and Link Guard that scans webmail and social media feeds for suspicious or malicious links. I launched a dodgy link using different browsers, including Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge and Firefox, to test it out. Norton 360 could detect and block each site I opened.
Norton 360 VPN
With Norton 360 packages, users will get a full Secure VPN to use without any limits. The VPN can also be bought separately for $69.99 NZD for the first year and $89.99 NZD after, so it’s a significant, extra feature to have thrown in.
Norton’s Secure VPN is available on Windows, Mac, iOS and Android. The app itself mimics the typical Norton design and is simplistic, as it can be found in the main My Norton hub. Switch it on and…that’s about it. It’s easy to connect to the fastest server, and you can pick and choose which country you’d like to surf the internet in. Norton offers hundreds of servers in around 31 countries. This isn’t a lot, especially compared to the best VPNs available, but it has no problem getting past geo-blocked or restricted sites. Oh, and it protects your online privacy, of course.
Norton Secure VPN adds several advanced tools to use to keep you extra safe, including split tunnelling and a kill switch, and alerts you when connected to an unsecured network. There could be a few more features it could add, but as far as VPNs go, it does a good job.
I tested to see if Norton Secure VPN could get past streaming services such as Netflix and Disney+. When connected to another country, I could get into both streaming sites without any hiccups. Internet speeds weren’t incredibly fast, though. For example, my average download speed is 51Mbps, and after connecting to the U.S., it dropped to an average of 17.4Mbps. Ouch. Not exactly as fast as ExpressVPN, but it didn’t impact my daily tasks on the web.
- Norton Secure VPN not working with Netflix? Try these EASY fixes!
Norton 360 Password Manager
Norton 360’s Password Manager is another bonus to its packages, which can store your login credentials for multiple sites and apps in a secure online vault. As all the best password managers offer, the password generator will create a strong and unbreakable master password for you, too (make sure you remember it).
While it can sync data on all your devices, including smartphones, tablets, and laptops, it also allows you to keep these passwords separate. It also keeps your data stored to fill those long web forms.
It isn’t the most full-featured password manager, but if you like a “your eyes only” password vault, it’s great to have.
Norton 360 is an extensive, all-in-one antivirus package with more than enough credibility to ease anyone’s fears of cyber threats. Fantastic for casual users and those with essential files to keep safe, Norton remains one of the best antivirus software you can get – even if its higher-tiered subscriptions will put a dent in your wallet.
Its pricier plans are best used for multiple users. Still, the subscriptions for individuals or single devices cut the mustard, thanks to high-standard antivirus detection and protection, anti-phishing online security tools, dark web monitoring, a streamlined user interface and the added bonus of a good VPN and password manager.
Families will see the most benefit from Norton 360’s effective Parental Controls, which monitor and locks content from children.
If you’re after simple antivirus protection without all the bells and whistles, look out for free antivirus software from AVG or Avast. However, for extra tools and benefits, set your sights on Norton 360.