Norton Safe Web is an internet security software which helps to protect users while searching and browsing sites online. There are many scams and malware-infected sites which can be hard to spot. Search engines such as Google and Bing will delist sites which they know to be potentially harmful (or at least provide a warning). Unfortunately, not all malicious websites have been caught by the algorithms of search engines and dispatched to the “Dark Web”. In 2008, Norton released their Norton Safe Web which is a browser extension, sitting quietly on your toolbar and protecting you as you surf the net.
Does “Norton Safe Web” really make the web safe?
The question is not “do I need internet security?” but “which should I get?”
Software such as Norton Safe Web has always been divisive. On the one hand, they are positively perceived as protecting users from viruses, malware and spam. On the other hand, many site owners and businesses have paid the price when Norton deems a (harmless) site as either “unknown” or “dangerous”. The same can happen when Google or other search engines do this, but antivirus companies such as Norton are seen as a particular nuisance and time-consuming, extra security hurdle to deal with.
If you’re a business owner, Norton Safe Web might mean having to spend time and money ensuring Norton have listed your site (with the reassuring green tick) as safe. Many view Norton Safe Web as a means to make people buy their other products. It goes beyond convenience, like buying an iPhone and then the iMac because they are easier to sync. If businesses don’t use their software and follow Norton’s guidelines, they face losing customers.
From the user’s point of view, it can be a helpful layer of security, however. Norton Safe Web is a browser extension which lets you see a website’s safety and shopping rating for every search result. It is designed to spot malware infected sites, as well as phishing sites which try to steal your personal information. You can remove untrustworthy sites from appearing in your results within the settings. It works on Facebook too: a breeding ground for phishing links. You could argue that listing the occasional, innocent website as dangerous is a justifiable loss for your overall safety.
Norton encourages you to use “Norton Safe Search” alongside “Norton Safe Web”. The advantage of this is you can see clearly in the search results which sites are safe. The disadvantage is your browsing experience becomes all about safety. Perhaps you find the ease of navigating to your Google Drive and Gmail much easier using Google or enjoy saving the planet with every search using Ecosia?
Where can you run this program?
Norton Safe Web is compatible with Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, and Safari browsers. It’s free to download and takes no time at all, if you know what you are doing. Simply go to the “store” of whichever browser you are using. After you have downloaded it and been into your settings to ensure it is turned “on”, you’re set. In the process of adding Norton Safe Web, you will often be prompted (or the change will happen automatically) for Norton Safe Search to become your primary search engine. You can easily change this in your browser settings, if you do not want to use it however.
Is there a better alternative?
There are many alternatives to Norton Safe Web and it’s certainly a good idea to use something. By the same token, it would be better to add Norton Safe Web to your growing number of extensions on your toolbar than nothing. Norton is also a well-known and long-established company so you know they are legitimate. This should mean you can rely on them not to be too buggy and release regular updates, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Among a long list of better alternatives, I would recommend “Bitdefender TrafficLight” which is better hidden, less problematic and it can even scan web traffic before it has reached your browser
Whatever Norton’s motivates for creating “Norton Safe Web” would not matter if it was creating an accurate and reliable service. The problem is they are not. It’s surprising that one of the major players in the anti-virus industry has fallen so short with this software. Not only that, the software was initially released in 2008 so time is no excuse. There is no denying you could do much worse than to rely on Norton for your browsing security, but equally you can do much better. “Bitdefender TrafficLight”, “URL Void” and “AVG” are just a few I would choose over Norton.
Should you download it?
“Norton Safe Web” is better than nothing and it will do the job. Download one of the better alternatives out there, however. You can get better security, less bugs and software which doesn’t demand your attention quite so much. Give “Bitdefender TrafficLight” a go and if that doesn’t work try out some others before you turn to Norton Safe Web.