There are many (good) security and privacy software around the market (and some that are plain malware disguised as anti-virus). In the first list, the name Norton has been a household name for years - after all the software has been in the market in one form or another for almost 30 years now.
I have personally used Norton security software since its first release, back in the MS DOS days - when you would send a floppy disc away to Symantec offices to swap for another disc containing an updated signature file and although I have tried other privacy and security software over the years, the Norton brand (even under Symantec) seemed to be a constant on my machines.
Just recently Broadcom acquired the enterprise side of the Symantec business, and NortonLifeLock Inc came out as a separate entity - just in time for the release of its new Norton 360 software - which I look at here.
On a first look it sounds just like a rebrand but in effect Norton 360 unifies Norton security features like anti-virus, firewall, password management, anti-spam and parental controls with other features such as Virtual Private Network (VPN) and backup under a single product name.
Over the years the product has evolved to use less and less resources - both during installation (which is superfast these days) and on a daily basis. From experience, running the computer with Norton feels no different than without it, in terms of responsiveness.
Basically you still have the "set-and-forget" experience and if you do nothing your machine (either your smartphone or computer) will be protected - and you can extend this protection to your entire family, with Norton 360 licensing options for 1, 2, 3, 5 and 10 devices.
This is pretty handy these days - some households will have multiple devices in different categories - laptops, desktops, smartphones and each have a different vulnerability profile. For example on your computer the main areas of concern are spam (phishing emails, scams), websites distributing malware and software downloads. On your laptop you might want to add a VPN so that communication going over your wireless connection at hotels and conferences are encrypted and not-accessible. On your smartphone you might want to protect yourself against fake apps or apps with built-in malware.
Norton 360 allows you to protect all these different devices with a combination of features covering these areas. You also have access to backup (which allows you to save a copy of your files in both cloud, local, network or removable drives with up to 100 GB per account (if you buy a five devices licence, the 100 GB is split between all the devices in the account used to register the licence key) - with an option to buy more space if needed. The online backup is pretty good and I managed to get up to 50 Mbps uploads - over WiFi. Obviously an initial large backup will take time but this is true for other solutions too (I also use Backblaze for backup of large files).
Parental Controls is a feature that will be interesting for parents who have kids in that age where monitoring is important. I use the Parental Control endpoint software on my daughter's smartphone and can control time online, what time the device can be used, emergency numbers that can be contacted at any time, website category blocking - all this with recommended settings depending on age (which you can modify depending on how you think your kid understand the different online risks). It also provides location information so you can monitor the kid's (phone's) whereabouts.
The Norton add-on for your browser provides visual clues (through green or red icons) plus an interesting feature that gives you a full-page warning on malicious sites, with an option to continue to the site using the Isolation Mode. In this mode, the browser is redirected to a Norton server and the visited page is loaded through that server, making sure any malware or suspect script is safe or removed before you can see the page.
The Isolation Mode will also be used to protect banking activities when the Online Banking Protection feature is launched in New Zealand - if you feel comfortable with the connection going through Norton servers. The rational is that banking trojans won't be aware of the website being visited, phishing attacks can be prevented and browser vulnerabilities can be reduced. This feature is not yet available here, depending on banking institutions joining the programme.
The VPN feature is essentially used to protect your communications while on possibly hostile networks, like the ones you can find in hotels, cafes and conferences. This is another feature that exist both for smartphones and computers. The interesting thing here is that Norton offers a New Zealand server for this too, so performance impact (all VPNs have some impact) is not as noticeable as if you were connecting to a server in the USA or Australia for example. You can select servers in along list of countries, making it pretty easy to get the best performance by connecting to the nearest server in the list. You can either set it for manual or automatic connection.
The Password Manager feature is another one you will be interested on. It is similar to the likes of LastPass and others. It works as a Norton 360 module on your computer, an add-on for your browser and as a mobile app on your smartphone. It automatically syncs your login information between devices and make it much safer for you to interact with websites - creating accounts with unique passwords is easier since you don't have to remember random sequences of characters, numbers and special signs. You can make them as unique as possible using the password generator, store in the Password Manager and use when needed to login into websites and services (of note, the browser-based online password generator is available to anyone).
This feature should probably be the first one you setup after install. It also allows you to store credit card and address information so that you can use it to fill in forms online without having to keep numbers in text files. It's a very handy feature - and the only thing I find it missing is an option to share the safe with someone else (as an emergency contact).
Norton 360 provides easy-to-use, unobtrusive security, with a licensing scheme that is easy to understand.