Norton AntiVirus 12 for Mac review

Few software companies let alone products have lasted over 20 years. Norton AntiVirus is one of them. Starting life as Symantec Antivirus for Macintosh, it has always been among the leading anti-virus apps for the Mac.

See also: Best Mac antivirus software | Mac software reviews

NAV 12 offers two forms of protection: vulnerability and virus. Vulnerability protection keeps an eye on your internet connection and prevents access to your Mac without your permission. It doesn’t go as far as providing a firewall – you need Norton Internet Security 5 for Mac for that – and while it’s supposed to provide protection against security holes in your apps, there isn’t a single current Mac OS X app vulnerability listed.

Virus protection defaults to scanning files, external drives and archives automatically and continuously. Its idle-time scanning feature means you’re unlikely to know it’s working in the background, with a minimal processing hit. One-off scans can be made of the system, areas of your user folder (with quick scan) or specific files. Infected files can be repaired or quarantined.

If you haven’t used NAV for a while you’ll be happy to know that LiveUpdate now runs in the background on a daily basis.

From installation to set-up, NAV 12 is a doddle to use. The interface is slick, unlike some previous incarnations, and it’s easy to find your way around the various features.

As expected, NAV is a polished piece of software that appears to do its job admirably. I say ‘appears to’ because it’s very difficult to test it in action. Of the 37,000+ viruses listed in the virus definition database, 21 are for the old MacOS and there are only two for Mac OS X, one of which is a proof of concept and the other, a Trojan horse (which Mountain Lion’s Gatekeeper would handle). Of course, your Mac could transfer infected Word/Excel macros to PCs and NAV will clean these up.

OUR VERDICT

With so little Mac malware, the biggest problem Symantec will have is convincing people to part with £39.99 (followed by £24.99 per year) for NAV, especially when there are a number of free, less polished alternatives including ClamXav, avast! and iAntivirus. If you do want NAV protection, for an extra tenner you might be better off buying Norton Internet Security 5 for Mac with its additional firewall feature and email integration.

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