Choosing the right internet security package is often a case of personal preference as all the leading brands offer pretty much the same array of tools. One of the biggest names is Symantec with its Norton 360 and this, the 2009 version of its leading security package.

One of the criticisms levelled at previous packages has been the rather heavy install and resources needed to run the package. Fortunately, there are quite a number of changes and improvements to this version that make it slicker and lighter to run and use.

It has all the standard features, such as anti-virus, spyware, two-way firewall, ID protection, anti-phishing, network management, rootkit detection and even browser and website authentication tools. This wouldn't be a security package without backup tools, as well as parental controls. The package can be installed on three machines in the same house and offers great value for money.

Pulse is a new feature that delivers updates to your system on a regular basis, every 5 to 15 minutes on average, which means new threats should be stopped before they've had a chance to establish themselves.

Scans are now faster than previous due to changes in the way the scanning engine looks for problems. It does this using the Norton Insight tool that specifically targets files that are likely to be at risk. Working from a white-list of trusted files, it doesn't need to scan these sections of your hard drive, so speeding up processing time.

Scanning by and large happens in the background, whenever you're PC is in downtime. However, you can, and should, still run scheduled scan and backup routines, to make sure your PC is fully protected.

Recovery and backup tools now work a good deal smoother and also allow you to boot-up a damaged hard drive, if it's possible to do so. The networking features have also been beefed up and notebook users can also set it to hide your presence when using public Wi-Fi hotspots.

As you would expect from a package that has a wide range of updates, the interface has also had a makeover. Broken down in to three different sections - Computer, Internet and Identity - each section covers separate core tasks and makes it incredibly easy to set-up and run.

When it comes to security, this package handles everything with ease. Improvements to stop viruses and spyware as well as malicious content coming through your browser or IM software work really well. Online ID security tools have also been stepped up through the use of a security safe that acts like a virtual vault to keep your details safe.

Price when reviewed:

Norton Internet Security 2009 has been beefed up in terms of features but streamlined in how it actually carries out its tasks and is all the better for it. This package has moved from a good all-round security suite to pretty much an essential buy. Not only does the new interface make it easier to use but also the logical changes to the way it works makes it easier to detect and defeat security threats.