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The evolution of Norton™ protection: A brief timeline of cybersecurity

It all started with the personal computer.

It was 1975. The invention of the PC promised to change the way we live. It opened new possibilities for computing at home and at work. And before long, it became a target for a new menace.

Introducing: The computer virus.

With the arrival of the computer virus, it marked the first time that criminals took aim at this new technology. It also marked the birth of a new industry focused on providing computer security.

Enter: NortonTM solutions.

Norton security software solutions have evolved over the past four decades, and now include protection for your devices, online privacy to help combat today’s ever-evolving cyberthreats.

But let’s not get ahead of the story…

Here’s a look at the evolution of Norton protection — in 7 key milestones — starting with that first computer virus.

1. When SAM met Norton (1990)

The earliest viruses were transmitted via infected floppy disks — those clunky four-sided data-storage devices that now seem bizarre by modern standards. Since floppy disks were removeable media, the viruses were easy to keep contained.

It got a little tougher when computers started to connect online with the birth of the internet. Viruses began to spread more rapidly, putting every machine in their path at risk.

NortonLifeLock was one of the earliest companies to fight viruses. The company began to develop a DOS-based antivirus program in 1989. That same year, NortonLifeLock released its first antivirus solution for Apple® computers, NortonLifeLock Antivirus for Macintosh — or SAM, to its friends.

Meanwhile, Peter Norton, a programmer and software publisher, produced the first version of Norton™ Utilities for DOS. He designed the suite to help analyse, configure, optimize, and maintain a computer. A computer that ran Norton Utilities improved boot speed and overall performance.

With SAM’s early success and the increasing demand for antivirus products, it made sense for NortonLifeLock to acquire Peter Norton’s company and fold Norton Utilities into the company.

2. Norton™ AntiVirus (1991)

Less than a year after SAM and Norton Utilities came together, NortonLifeLock launched Norton AntiVirus for PC — it’s very first antivirus software for consumers. It helped prevent virus infections and remove malicious software from computers. It also included email filtering and phishing protection features to help protect against phishing scams.

3. Norton™ 2000 (1998)

Remember the Y2K bug? That was the fear that computers would crash worldwide when the clock turned from 1999 to Y2K — the Year 2000. Most computer programs stored the year values of dates as a two-digit figure. When the two-digit space allocated for “99” turned to 2000, it was expected that the next number would be “00”. Since the resulting “00” would be smaller than “99”, it was feared that programs would get confused, computers would crash, and mayhem would ensue.

“Y2K compliance” became the catch phrase. Consumers needed to check their PCs and Mac® to make sure their devices were Y2K compliant.

Norton 2000 hit the market.

It evaluated the software in desktops by scanning for applications and data that could cause problems across the year 2000 date change. Norton 2000 identified, prioritized, and reported on two-digit date calculation anomalies in applications.

It tested computer systems’ BIOS, real-time clock, and system clock via a boot floppy. If it found a BIOS/clock problem, and it can be fixed by software, Norton 2000 repaired the problem. If it couldn’t, then it informed the user to update the system’s BIOS.

4. Norton™ Internet Security (2000-2007)

As the internet became more prevalent in homes, so did unsolicited email spam messages, and computer cookies came with it. Annoying banner-ads and invasive cookies were tracking every website view and click. To help protect customers against these issues, Norton released its first solution that went beyond antivirus. Norton Internet Security provided all the features of Norton Antivirus, such as malware prevention and removal, email spam filtering, and phishing protection, and also included features like cookie removal and banner-ad blocking.

That wasn’t all. Norton Internet Security added a personal firewall — a feature that, until that time, had mainly been available only to companies and corporations.

Norton Internet Security also released a Family Edition, which included parental control that helped parents monitor their kids’ online activities.

5. The original edition of Norton 360™ (2007) – paving the way for the future

The rising popularity of smartphones and tablets created a new need for improved cybersecurity. People liked internet access on the go, and cybercriminals started targeting mobile devices with ransomware, spyware, and other kinds of malicious software. With more devices losing data to the usual wear and tear and the rise of ransomware, file backup became an important requirement for users.

The original edition of Norton 360™ was created to provide security across all devices, including mobile, tablets, and Mac. Given the cyberthreats that existed during that time, it was a holistic collection of computer protection software solutions, which included an antivirus program, a personal firewall, a phishing protection feature, a new backup program, and PC maintenance capabilities.

For the first time, Norton was able to provide backup. Users could automatically back up their photos, music, contacts, financial documents, and other data to CDs, DVDs, or external drives.

The original edition of Norton 360 was available in different offerings such as Norton 360™ (standard), Norton 360™ Premier Edition, and Norton 360™ Multi-Device.

6. Norton™ Security (2014)

After the release of the original edition of Norton 360™, Norton continued to expand its product line. Between 2007 to 2014, there were more than 20 solutions customers could choose from. They ranged from general security solutions to stand-alone products and services.

Norton has always put its customers at the centre of its business strategy, and listening to their feedback and responding to their needs is a big part of that. From this feedback, Norton made a surprising discovery: Many users said the vast menu of products and services made it difficult for them to choose the right protection.

It was time to change. Norton decided to offer users the same great services and solutions, but in a simplified format. It stopped making some solutions such as the original edition of Norton 360™, and other solutions were built into a new product line-up.

Norton Security was born.

Users now had the latest security software in an easy-to-choose format. The rollout included four major solutions:

  1. Norton™ AntiVirus Basic 
  2. Norton™ Security Standard
  3. Norton™ Security Deluxe
  4. Norton™ Security Premium

All four solutions — compatible with Windows and Mac OS — came with antivirus and malware protection features of the original edition of Norton 360™.

The features varied, but the simplified line-up made it easy for users to select the solution that fit their needs.

7. It’s time for NEW Norton™ 360 (2019)

Cyberthreats are evolving. It’s not just viruses infecting your desktop PC anymore, but everchanging cyberthreats that can put your online privacy as well as your private and financial
information on your devices at risk. That’s why Norton is evolving, too.

Introducing NEW Norton™ 360 - Multiple layers of protection against existing and emerging cyberthreats in today’s connected world ‒ in one single solution.

With a NEW Norton™ 360 subscription, you get real-time protection for your PC, Mac, iOS or Android™ device against viruses, phishing and other cyberthreats. Plus, Norton Secure VPN adds bank-grade encryption to help secure the information you send and receive on Wi-Fi connections.

Norton Password Manager provides the tools you need to generate and store all your

passwords, credit card information and other information online.

Norton Cloud Backup for PC helps store important files ‒ from documents and family photos to financial data ‒ as a preventive measure against the loss of data due to hard drive failures, stolen devices and even ransomware attacks.

Norton SafeCam for PC alerts and helps you block unauthorized access to your webcam.

And Norton Parental Control‡, providing you with easy-to-use tools that allow you to set screen time limits, block unsuitable sites or monitor search terms and activity history to help your kids navigate their connected world more safely.

NEW Norton™ 360. Easy-to-use protection for your devices, online privacy and more. All in a
single solution.

Where can I get a NEW Norton™ 360 download?

Learn more about Norton 360 here

‡ Norton Parental Control features are not supported on Mac.