Software Review: Norton Internet Security 2000


By Jayne A. Hitchcock
as it appeared in the July 2000 issue of IT magazine.

Iíve tried quite a few Internet-related security programs in the past few months, and have reviewed some of them for IT (BlackICE, Jammer) and gave them favorable reviews. But when I came across Norton Internet Security 2000, I put those babies to bed.

NIS2000 is the ultimate in Internet security. Not only do you get protection from port scanning and possible hacking attempts, you also get anti-virus protection, cookie control, privacy control, ad blocking and parental control. Plus, NIS2000 integrates seamlessly with Norton SystemWorks 2000 (which I also reviewed for IT and think is tops). You can now keep your computer safe at all levels with the combo of these two programs.

NIS2000 has six components to it, which Iíll break down:

1. STATUS - This shows whether NIS2000 is enabled and what parts of the program you have running on your system. You can also see how many times your computer may have been compromised, broken down by Security (blocked accesses, Java applets blocked and ActiveX Controls blocked); Privacy (Cookies permitted/blocked, browser privacy permits/blocked and any confidential data blocks); Parental Control (sites permitted/blocked) and Ad Blocking (how many ads were blocked).

2. SECURITY - This protects your computer from hackers, unauthorized intrusions (including port scanning) and any attempts to get personal information from your computer. You have to option to enable or disable this (I have it enabled) and then you select your settings for Personal Firewall, Java Applet Security, ActiveX Control Security and Silently Block Unused Ports (this lets you disable alert messages that are otherwise issued when an inbound connection attempt is made to a port on your PC and a corresponding listening service is not available on your PC.) You can go with the Default options or customize your options, which is particularly nice. I customized mine so that my firewall was set at High: Block everything until I allow it; Java Applet Security set to None: Allow all Java applets; ActiveX Control set to Medium: Prompt me each time and the Silently Block All Unused Ports is enabled.

You can view, save or print out event logs - I found that when I installed this, I was almost immediately "scanned" - someone was trying to hack into my computer. This log also came in handy when someone "hired" a hacker to try to break into my computer; law enforcement loves evidence like this!

3. PRIVACY - Here you can block credit card information, personal info, passwords and more from prying eyes. I customized the setting so that my Confidential info was Medium: Prompt me each time and all cookies are blocked (which can sometimes be a pain for some sites, which wonít let you in unless you allow a cookie - so far, Iíve done okay with it). I also enabled Browser Privacy (Prevents a Web site from retrieving your email address from the browser and finding out which Web site was last visited) and Secure Connections (lets me access Web sites using HTTPS, a secure protocol that is often required for credit card purchases). To make sure my Confidential info was correct, I had to set each one by adding them in. When clicking on ADD, I was asked what I wanted to protect and was given a variety of options. If none fit what I wanted to protect, I would select Other (another nice touch to this program), then give it a descriptive name and what it was I wanted to protect. A word of warning, though - if you use the same password for a lot of web sites, a window will pop up each time asking you to permit or block it. But if you change it to HIGH, which I did, itís also a pain. I found that out by going to the Symantec site to get some info on NIS2000 and it wouldnít let me in. So I reset my Custom levels to MEDIUM).

4. PARENTAL CONTROL - I donít have children, so I didnít enable this, but if you do enable it, you can select what type of control you want to have and NIS2000 gives you a checklist, including chat rooms, general, e-mail, newsreaders, IM programs and more. You can also set what types of web sites you want blocked, change them if there are exceptions, or if you have URLs of web sites you want blocked, you can add them. This is wonderful, especially if your child has to do a report on breast cancer - they wonít be blocked from sites with the word ďbreastĒ if you donít want them to.

5. AD BLOCKING - This was a godsend. And I do mean it. Have you ever hated those banner ads on some web sites? Well, AD BLOCKING takes care of most of them. It does not take care of those annoying pop-up window ads, though, which is a demerit. BUT, you can add these and any ads that werenít blocked to the ďtrashcanĒ in this section. There are great HELP tips to get you going and pretty soon your browser can be almost ad-free.

6. ACCOUNTS - Here you can create separate accounts if several people use your computer so that each person will have their own customized NIS2000 settings. A very nice touch.

7. ANTI-VIRUS - Norton Anti-Virus 2000 is included, topping off whatís an already great set of apps. This allows you to see how many viruses your computer or network is protected from, if your definitions are up-to-date, when you performed a full system scan, if there are any viruses in quarantine, if your Rescue Disks are current and how long your system has been virus-free. There are other settings you can customize, go online to update your definitions, scan for viruses, review reports, and schedule scans.

As you can probably tell, Iím truly impressed by this program. Itís a bonus that it seamlessly adds itself to SystemWorks (if you have it), or you can use it as a standalone application.

I would highly recommend this program in place of, or in addition to any Internet security programs you may have on your system or network. Thereís nothing like being extra cautious, what with the increasing popularity of the Internet, hackers, virus inventors and the like.

Although the price of $53.95 (downloaded from the Symantec site or $59.99 retail) may seem steep for some folks, you truly need this as an all-encompassing program. Check out the Norton site for special deals at their web site and if youíre still not sure, try before you buy; the average download time is 16 min (T1) 115 min (ISDN) 281 min (28.8). I donít know how limited this version is - it doesnít state on the site, but it canít hurt to try it for free!


J.A. Hitchcock is a regular contributor to Compute Me. Visit her web site at jahitchcock.com.

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