Symantec readies Norton 360 update

Refresh will include new Web security, identity theft, and drive-by download protection features, as well as 'smart firewall'

Symantec is just weeks away from shipping a test version of the next major update to its Norton 360 desktop security and backup software, with the product expected to ship by the end of March.

Norton 360 Version 2.0 will include new Web security and identity-theft protection features as well as a "smart firewall" that will use behavior-based analysis techniques to identify emerging threats. These security features are already shipping with Symantec's Norton Internet Security 2008 product, but Norton 360 will have a few tweaks designed to make it easier to administer as well.

For example, the software can now be used to back up data to new types of devices such as iPods or Blu-ray drives, said Mark Kanok, a senior product manager with Symantec. "We changed up a couple of things to make it a little more accessible and give the advanced users more control," he said.

The new browser protection feature, formerly code-named Canary, blocks Web sites from installing malicious software via the browser, known as a drive-by download. These types of attacks are becoming increasingly common, security experts say.

New Firefox and Windows registry cleanup and features are also planned.

Norton 360 Version 2 will also include the Symantec Online Network for Advanced Response (SONAR) technology, which identifies new forms of malware by analyzing its behavior, as well as the Norton Identity Safe software, designed to protect against phishing attacks.

Pricing for Norton 360 v.2 will remain unchanged, at $79.99 for a three-PC license, Kanok said. The new beta will ship by early January, at the latest, he said.

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