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Good Software, but an Overkill for Most Users
on March 7, 2013
One of the chief selling points of Apple computers is their relatively high level of security. The combination of a highly closed and integrated operating system on one hand and a relatively low market penetration on the other are for the most part sufficient deterrents that thwart the development and the spread of most computer viruses and other forms of malware. Nonetheless, a few highly publicized security breaches in recent years (mostly involving third-party software) have made me want to take additional steps in trying to protect my Mac computers. Norton Internet Security for Mac seemed like a reasonable and comprehensive Mac security software package, and for the most part it worked as advertised.
**** Installation ****
I installed this software package on my old (2009) Mac Mini running OS X 10.8. Because of this I was happy to install it from a CD, but I think for most users with more recent Macs online installation might be a better and more efficient option. The installation was smooth and it didn't take too long. I had it running within 10 - 15 minutes.
**** Virus Protection ****
For this function you essential have two options: a quick scan and a more thorough system scan. The quick scan was indeed very quick - less than half an hour for my 160 GB hard drive. It did find a few viruses, but all of those were Windows-based viruses. It did not find a single Mac-specific virus. The system scan took substantially longer - three full days for both my internal hard drive and an equivalently sized external backup drive. This is probably the kind of scan that you will do one, or maybe once every few months. It came up with just one suspicious file, which was then removed.
**** Background Operation ****
The security software runs in the background, and it supposedly doesn't interfere with your other functions. I personally don't know how true this is, there probably is some slowdown, but I personally did not notice any significant drop in speed of my work.
**** Internet Security ****
The first thing I noticed about the Internet security is that it only works with Safari and Firefox browsers. I use Chrome, and I think Chrome has recently become an overall number one browser for all computer operating systems. (I am not talking about mobile browsers here.) I am not sure if this is due to Chrome's own features (or lack thereof), or if it's Norton's fault, but the effect is the same: it excludes a large proportion of users. I was able to enable the Norton plugin in Safari very quickly and easily. The Safari then acquires and additional Norton tab with a "safe search" input box, powered by Ask.com. I did not use their service in a while, but it seemed like it's doing a decent job of searching the web and presenting their results. The search returns the usual list of websites, but now there are small Norton icons on the side identifying safe sites. You also get the same icons if you use any other major search engine. Most of the sites that I came across in my searches were "green," with perhaps one or two "question" ones. So far I have not come across a single "red," or unsafe, site. I think that the search engines in their own right already do a fairly good job of filtering out unsafe sites.
**** Conclusion ****
I think that as far as it goes this Norton package does a fine job of scanning for viruses and malware, as well as identifying safe and unsafe Internet sites. However, lack of Chrome support, still a relative dearth of Mac-specific viruses, and a single-machine only license make this a bit of overkill for most users. If you value very highly your peace of mind while working on your Mac then this Norton security package will be worth it. For me, though, it doesn't seem like such a great deal.