Test: Norton Confidential 1.1

Mac users sensitized to security issues know that there are several types of risks to their computers: in addition to viruses and hacker attacks, one of the main risks today is phishing, or attempts at Users enter their credit card details or passwords on websites that impersonate the real entities: banks, auction sites, online stores, etc. Norton Confidential 1.1 aims to solve this problem by examining the websites visited to see if they are really the legitimate sites. When installed in default mode, a status bar opens at the top of the Safari or Firefox window, displaying a warning when fraud is detected by displaying a large danger graphic on the web page.

The program also reports on certain sites that have been verified as authentic, including sites like eBay, PayPal, and Amazon.com, as well as Symantec and Apple websites. For its operation, the program uses the Symantec database and it is updated regularly. On some sites it shows the warning of “Possible fraud detected”. However, when the program is unsure it simply displays a “No fraud detected”. Users may have a false sense of security when viewing such a notice and assume that such sites are safe. While software like Norton Confidential is helpful, the only real way to avoid phishing attempts is to educate Internet users. You should never click on a link in an email that asks you to enter your credit card details or password from a commercial site.

Norton Confidential offers other series of features, such as blocking security holes in certain Internet programs, such as browsers and multimedia players. However, of the more than 800 vulnerabilities shown by the program, only 12 are relevant to Mac users and most, if not all, have been fixed by the most recent versions of the different affected programs.

Information Guard, a feature offered by Norton Confidential, prevents the sending of protected data from your computer. However, it is necessary to manually add said information (credit card numbers, passwords), in addition to the fact that by default the program only prevents the sending of said information by email or via the Web. You need to manually set other blocking options (for example for chat and file transfers) or choose the full protection option for Internet services.

File Guard protects files in much the same way that Information Guard protects data. However, in addition to preventing unauthorized file submission, it also prevents the Finder files from moving by default. This feature is unreliable: it asks for authorization when you try to move a file, even if you don’t actually move them. It is possible to enable the Allow Mac OS X access option, but it does not solve the problem. Symantec recommends manually disabling the feature when a file is moved. You may also need to enter the password when you want to save to a protected file. I find this to be a cumbersome feature. Symantec is investigating ways to make Finder operation smoother in future versions of Norton Confidential.


Some of the features in Norton Confidential 1.1 work fine, but others are less polished. Furthermore, the program manual is not very complete either, leaving it up to users to imagine what some of the features actually offer. It seems that the application does not slow down web browsing or other activities, but it seems superfluous. Its features are likely to be found in a firewall program, and most users may not see the need to spend money on such a limited security program. While phishing protection works well, education works even better: you just have to limit yourself to not clicking on the links that ask you to enter your credit card information or password.

Web: www.symante.com