Review: Norton Confidential - Not Worth the Investment

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The Web is full of useful resources and entertaining sites, but there are also a vast number of malicious and unscrupulous sites that you must be cautious with. Users need a tool to identify suspicious sites and protect them from malicious activity while they surf the Web.

Norton Confidential from Symantec is designed to provide you with this type of protection. Norton Confidential provides website authentication to verify that the sites you visit are safe. It also has antiphishing protection, antipharming protection, and an ability to detect new or unknown crimeware through heuristic scanning. To round out the collection of security tools, Norton Confidential also provides you with the ability to store and encrypt passwords. This enables you to store your passwords securely without having to remember them or place them on sticky notes on the side of your monitor.

Installation & Setup (2 out of 5)

What’s Hot:

I like that connecting with LiveUpdate to get the latest patches and updates for Norton Confidential is a part of the installation. This ensures that novice users, who may not know any better, receive the most up to date version of Norton Confidential when they first install it.

What’s Not:

Norton Confidential is not a huge program, but installation was slow. It seemed to drag on forever. As if it weren’t slow enough, I also got an error message that claimed to encounter a conflict with some other installation process. However, Norton Confidential was the only product I was running at the time. Therefore, it was either a glitch or perhaps the product has multiple installation processes that interfered.

User Interface (3 out of 5)

What’s Hot:

The interface for Norton Confidential is fairly simple and self-explanatory. While there are different sections and links that the user can click on, the items listed under Tasks are the main focus of Norton Confidential. Under Tasks, users can manage and edit the logon credentials stored in InfoVault.

Overall, the UI is very functional. It is not quite as simple and efficient as Symantec’s Norton 360 product, but it’s still easy enough for most users to navigate and use effectively.

What’s Not:

When I clicked to edit the passwords I had stored in the InfoVault, the window that appeared was badly cropped and could not be adjusted at all. The window couldn’t be re-sized to display all the information and there were no scroll bars available to let me move the window so I could see the cutoff information.

Performance (4 out of 5)

What’s Hot:

Norton Confidential is relatively simple to use once it is installed and running. You can manually add username and password credentials to the InfoVault. That information will automatically be entered when you visit the corresponding sites. If you visit a site that is not yet stored in InfoVault and enter credentials, Norton Confidential will ask if you would like to store those credentials for future visits to that site.

The other main function of Norton Confidential, the phishing protection, runs as a notification bar at the top of the web browser window. It is displayed in green to let you know that the system has been scanned for crimeware/spyware and that it has been determined safe. Norton Confidential verifies the sites you are visiting are safe. If you visit questionable sites or sites that have been identified as known phishing scam sites, the Norton Confidential phishing filter bar will let you know.

A feature of Norton Confidential which helps make it more secure is that it will periodically ask you to re-enter the master password for the InfoVault. This may seem tedious, but if you enter the master password and leave your computer running, any user that sits down would be able to access all of your sites because the credentials will be filled in by InfoVault. This feature ensures that InfoVault will protect your passwords even if you forget and walk away from your computer.

What’s Not:

Norton Confidential does analyze and rate the strength of the passwords you enter which lets you know if they are weak, strong, or somewhere in between. It would be nice if Norton Confidential also offered suggestions for strengthening weak passwords or provided some sort of random password generator.

Product Features (3 out of 5)

What’s Hot:

During the installation and activation process of Norton Confidential, Symantec allows users to set up an online account and save their registration key information there. This can be helpful if your computer crashes or you upgrade to a new computer. The registration keys you have from Symantec will be available for you in your online account so you don’t have to dig them up or try to remember them.

What’s Not:

A couple of features that would be nice would be a password generator to help users create strong passwords and the ability to open a web site directly from within InfoVault by clicking on username and password entry.

Norton Confidential is also fairly narrow in the scope of information it stores. Symantec should exand the InfoVault concept to include other personally identifiable or sensitive information.

Price to Value (2 out of 5)

What’s Not:

Once past the installation issues, Norton Confidential does a reasonably good job at securely storing passwords and login credentials, and protecting your system against crimeware and phishing scams. However, I don’t feel that it does enough to justify the investment. It is a $50 expense to protect against a narrow set of threats which ought to be covered by existing security products.

The Norton Internet Security Suite, or Norton 360 products (or similar security software from other vendors) should be sufficient to protect your system. The few features that are unique to Norton Confidential should be incorporated into the security suite products. I don’t recommend purchasing and installing a diverse collection of products for each type of threat when an all-in-one security product like Norton 360 should do the trick.


Error occurred during installation of Norton Confidential

Tracking the progress of the Norton Confidential installation

Connecting with LiveUpdate to install the latest patches

Symantec lets users save their registration key online

Accept the Norton Confidential license agreement

Enable the Norton Confidential phishing filter

Activate your Norton Confidential software online

Create a password to protect your InfoVault password storage

Save logon credentials to be stored in InfoVault

Screen for editing InfoVault passwords has some issues with cropping

Backup your InfoVault passwords to safeguard them

Norton Confidential reports and statistics

Suggested Features

There are some features that would help improve the overall rating for this product:

  • Ability to import and export data from other programs.
  • Ability to store information on removable media such as USB flash drives.
  • Print a hard copy of password data.
  • A Mac OS compatible version.


Users need to have protection when surfing and shopping on the Web, and a secure method of storing and recalling passwords is vital, but Norton Confidential may not be the solution. I am not a fan of installing a different security product for each threat and I would prefer to just have all of this protection and functionality included in one security suite. Overall, I would not recommend investing the money for Norton Confidential as a standalone solution.

RoboForm Pro, Password Manager XP, TurboPasswords