Symantec's Norton division today launched its "Norton Everywhere" initiative aimed at bringing security protections and cloud-storage access to the Google Android and Apple iPhone phones. The announcement coincides with the launch of a new mobile-focused Web site, www.w.norton.com.
First up is a free app for Android and iPhone, called Norton Connect, that will enable access to data stored in Symantec's cloud-based storage service for those subscribing to a service such as Norton 360. PC-based access to cloud storage is more typical today, but Norton Connect extends access to subscribers with Android and iPhone devices, says Dan Nadir, senior director for product management at Norton.
The Norton Connect apps are expected to be available in June from the iPhone and Android apps stores. The Android version will also be available directly from Symantec.
Also due in June is data-protection and management software for Android called Norton Smartphone Security for Android 1.0. This software, Norton's first subscription-based security software for Android, will let users remotely disable a phone if it's stolen or lost.
"You can send a text message to your phone and wipe all the data from your phone and lock it," Nadir says. "We include a tutorial that walks you through and lets you try it in test mode."
The Smartphone Security for Android software also will watch for known malware, though there's not much of it for Android today, Nadir acknowledges. Norton designed the security-protection software to watch the apps you're running on Android, and it will "flag apps behaving in suspicious ways, such as sending personal data out," Nadir says.
As reports of any sneaky apps come in, Norton will keep track of them. "We identify the app and if it's bad for some reason, we add it to a black list," Nadir says.
The software also has a call-blocking mechanism and a way to tell who's calling you. Another feature Norton is calling "roaming protection" will notify you if you're in a different roaming area, where additional charges are likely to apply.
"This will work for both data and voice charges," says Nadir, noting people sometimes forget that data charges, as well as voice charges, increase when you're roaming.
DNS security service on tap
In addition to its Android security software push, Norton is rolling out entirely new service-based security software - offered for free - aimed at protecting a wide range of mobile smartphones, PCs and Macs.
It works when users of computer devices choose to access the Internet by the service Symantec is calling Norton DNS. DNS refers to the phrase Domain Name System, which describes the address and naming conventions underpinning the Internet today.
The Norton DNS service will flag or even block dangerous content or Web sites. If you're on an iPad and you think email is from your bank but it's a phishing page, the service will block it, Nadir says. Symantec's Norton division partnered with New Hampshire-based Dyn, which operates a global DNS network, to integrate security-scanning protections into Norton DNS. It works in the background without need for any software on the user's device.
Norton DNS is a grand experiment set to commence in June, and Norton will be trying to get users to give it a whirl in a couple of ways. First, Norton will make available a client wizard app for download that would walk users through the process of accessing Norton DNS (though techie types could do it manually, Nadir adds).
Later, the company will offer a way to configure a home router to access the Norton DNS security service. Norton has no plans to charge users for the DNS-based security service, though the company may be able to generate some revenue through sponsored links.
Another new field Norton is branching into is a new type of partnership with consumer electronics companies that want to make use of the security firm's LiveUpdate technology, which is used today to push out security-related updates to products over the Internet.
The intent is for consumer electronics firms to use the Symantec LiveUpdate infrastructure not to push out security updates, but to distribute their firmware updates and changes, Nadir says. "They'll be in our infrastructure, which pushes out 1.5 billion reputation-analysis updates every day," Nadir says. More details about the partnership program and its participants are expected in June.