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Symantec on Monday released its much-anticipated Norton 360 service, packing a full security suite plus utilities into a subscription offering.

Norton 360 includes all the expected security features—anti-virus, anti-spyware, firewall, intrusion prevention, and more. But it also incorporates a backup solution, transaction security, and a module to optimize PC performance. The price is large as well, though: $79.99 per year.

According to Symantec, Norton 360 is “designed to work as automatically as possible” and to “offer a user experience that is reassuring, helpful and unobtrusive.”

Norton 360 includes the same type of security protection found in the popular Norton Internet Security 2007, but makes even fewer demands on the user. It includes the new SONAR (Symantec Online Network for Advanced Response) technology, which catches zero-day attacks by detecting and preventing malicious behavior. Anti-spam and parental controls are pushed out into a separate add-on pack, just as with NIS 2007.

To secure online transactions, Norton 360 includes automatic detection of phishing sites. It immediately blocks known phishing sites, and automatically allows sites that are authenticated. For other sites it applies heuristic analysis and flags those that appear to be fraudulent. This same anti-phishing technology appears in NIS 2007 and Norton Confidential.

A good backup is the ultimate form of security, so Norton 360 offers a variety of automated backup options. Users get 2GB of offsite Web-based backup with their subscription and can purchase more as needed. Local backups can use virtually any type of media including local and remote hard drives, removable drives, and writeable CD/DVDs. The product automatically detects and backs up new and changed files.

While the backup function in Microsoft’s OneCare 1.5 is more flexible than in the original release, it still doesn’t include hosted online backup.

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