Norton WiFi Privacy is the new Norton Virtual Private Network (VPN) service, from the world-renowned antivirus firm Symantec. It is a cheap VPN service, that due to the size and scope of the firm (and its experience within IT security) ought to be top-end. Will it live up to that image?
I had a look around but, because Norton WiFi Privacy is so new, there is little to go on. As such, I truly don’t know what to expect from this fledgling VPN. Considering it is made by such a big name, one would expect it to be watertight when it comes to security and privacy. I’m excited to put this VPN through its paces, so let’s dive right in.
- Easy to use
- Good resources on the website
- 24/7 live chat support
- Servers in 26 countries
- Ideal for WiFi security
- Encryption could be stronger
Pricing and Plans
The Norton VPN is a very reasonably priced service, which certainly couldn’t be considered expensive. At the time of writing it is on sale, which brings already reasonable prices down even further. Like most VPNs, Norton WiFi Privacy can be purchased either monthly or yearly. There are four plans: a one device plan, a five device plan, a ten device plan, and a combination plan (which provides access to the VPN and Norton Security Suite).
For one month, the single device plan costs $4.99, the five device plan costs $7.99 and the ten device plan costs $9.99. Those prices are pretty competitive, but prices get substantially cheaper when subscribers commit for a year at a time.
For the yearly plan, Norton WiFi Security VPN costs: one device – $49.99; five devices – $59.99; and ten devices – $69.99.
For Norton Security and Norton VPN combined, the plans cost: one device – $69.98; five devices – $84.98; ten devices – $99.98.
All of those prices are reasonable, so as long as Norton VPN provides the level of service expected from a premium VPN service in this day and age then it might well be worth consideration.
It is also possible to subscribe to a bundle of both Norton WiFi Privacy AND Norton Security Deluxe (with five licenses for both products), at a price of $119.98.
Norton VPN offers subscribers a 60-day money back guarantee. This means that subscribers can test Norton WiFi Security thoroughly over an extremely reasonable trial period. Furthermore, people who subscribe using Google Play (to the Android version) actually get a seven-day free trial. Confusingly, users have to use Google Play to ‘buy’ the app in the usual manner. However, no money actually leaves your account until seven days later. If you cancel before then, the Play Store doesn’t charge any money.
You can pay for Norton VPN by credit card or PayPal. Sadly, Norton does not accept bitcoin payment, which is a shame. If paying for a VPN using greater levels of anonymity is a concern, then Norton VPN probably isn’t for you.
How Safe is Starbucks’ WiFi?
Norton VPN is marketed as a WiFi security solution. The reason for this is that WiFi hotspots put consumers at considerable risk. The answer to the question above is that Starbucks’ WiFi is just as unsafe as any other public WiFi hotspot.
When using public WiFi, users expose themselves to everybody else connected to the WiFi. If there is a hacker in Starbucks with you (or wherever you’re using public WiFi), then they could steal your data and passwords by ‘sniffing’ your traffic.
What is Norton WiFi Privacy?
Norton WiFi Privacy is the name of Norton’s Virtual Private Network service. Like other VPNs it is a perfect solution to the problem mentioned above. By encrypting all the data on your laptop or mobile device, Norton WiFi Privacy secures all your data from other WiFi users.
Despite the name Norton WiFi Privacy, don’t be fooled. This service is a full VPN that will also disguise your location, allow you to overcome geo-restrictions, and keep your data safe from the prying eyes of Internet Service Providers (ISPs), landlords, employers, and the government.
Norton WiFi Privacy VPN is a new service from global IT security firm Symantec. It has custom clients for Windows, Android, Mac, and iOS. No custom Linux client is available at present. Despite being so new, Norton VPN gives users access to a network of servers in 26 countries (with at least two servers in each location). Admittedly, this isn’t the most locations we have ever seen for the prices quoted. Still, for a relatively new service, it is impressive.
The Windows and Android apps (the ones I tested) all have pro features such as Domain Name System (DNS) leak protection, a kill switch, and auto-connect.
Security and Privacy
“If you live in the European Economic Area, the Controller of Your Information is Symantec Limited, Ireland, which has its principal place of business at Ballycoolin Business Park, Blanchardstown, Dublin 15, Ireland.”
However, inside the Norton user license agreement, it clearly states that US and Latin American users will be subjected to US laws. Whereas the rest of the world will be subjected to UK laws. That means that no matter where you reside, a subscription to Norton WiFi Privacy VPN is subjected to very invasive jurisdictions; either those of the US (with warrants and gag orders) or the UK (with the Snooper’s Charter and mandatory data retention).
In addition (as you can see) the landing page’s claim that data is controlled from Ireland (for members of the EU) is at odds with what it says in the user agreement.
Norton WiFi Privacy comes with OpenVPN as standard on both Android and Windows. Users do not get the option to use any other protocols. Finding out about Norton’s encryption was like getting blood from a stone. Customer support agents could only tell me that it was AES-256. I sent the firm emails, and after four days I managed to get the answers that I wanted.
Sadly, when I did finally receive details about the implementation of OpenVPN, I discovered that it was lacking due to a weak handshake (RSA 1024). That handshake has been known to be weak for around seven years now, and means that encryption on Norton WiFi Privacy cannot be considered secure. To be absolutely clear: here at BestVPN.com we consider a handshake of RSA 2048 to be a minimum spec for a VPN to be considered secure.
In addition, in the license agreement Norton asks users not to use the VPN in any of the following ways:
The Norton website is easy to navigate and lays out plenty of information for its users. Sadly, however, when it comes to the VPN Norton is very light on useful information. Encryption details are nowhere to be found and one is left with the feeling that Norton doesn’t want to be transparent about the security levels that the VPN can provide.
Of course, Norton is a very large firm that is well known for being reputable. However, it would appear that its VPN is purposefully marketed as a WiFi privacy solution for a reason. Sadly, the website doesn’t bother to make this fact transparent and I am left with the feeling that Norton is somewhat fooling consumers with this product.
Norton has a “Community” section to the website that includes a blog. The blog has up to date articles about security issues. It is a useful resource that allows people to keep up to speed with news about IT security.
A “Forums” section allows people to ask questions and get answers from both the online community and Norton experts.
Support for Norton WiFi privacy is provided in several ways. 24/7 live chat support is available on the Norton website. However, this live chat is for all Norton products, not just the VPN service. As such, the live chat support is very limited indeed. This feature on most VPNs allows people to get fast answers to problems concerning the VPN. This is not true of Norton WiFi Privacy, whose support staff know absolutely nothing about the VPN.
Luckily, it is possible to communicate via email. However, you will need to go on live chat to request that they send you an email. Using that email you can reply and start a support conversation. Hardly ideal, but at least it is possible. Overall, I found support with Norton to be cumbersome, tiresome, and overly difficult.
Yes, being able to get a call back is good. However, with other VPNs it is possible to ask something like: “How can I unblock the Open Tennis tournament?” and receive an answer on the spot (including being given the address for a dedicated streaming server for the event). This is not the level of service that you get with Norton.
In fact, I went back to Norton with a number of questions to see if a different agent would know more. I found them to know nothing time and time again.
On one of its blogs about VPNs, Norton says the following:
“When in doubt, don’t be afraid to email customer service and start asking questions. Companies that are more reputable are more likely to answer your questions promptly.”
Sadly it is pretty obvious that this something that Norton forgot to actually implement for its VPN service.
You can sign up to Norton WiFi Privacy in various ways. Firstly, if you are an Android user, it is possible to purchase the app from the Google Play Store. This is an excellent way to get the VPN. Despite it seeming like you have purchased the app from the get-go, in reality subscribers get a seven-day free trial. Money will only leave your account if you don’t cancel the subscription during those first seven days. You can cancel via the Play Store, which makes it very easy to test the service risk-free.
For computer users, the best way to subscribe is through the website. Norton asks for minimal information, such as a name and email address, in order to subscribe to the VPN. It also requires a phone number. This is an annoying and unnecessary request that certainly isn’t good for privacy.
The Norton WiFi Privacy Windows VPN Client
The Windows client is a well designed and nice looking bit of VPN software. It has all the top-end features you would expect from such a big name in the security industry. You will find a kill switch and auto-connect feature, as well as built-in DNS leak protection. Connecting to the various servers is easy, and all the servers are just a click or two away.
Encryption on Windows is provided by the OpenVPN protocol. Users don’t get the option to switch to a different protocol. Please see the security section for my quibbles with encryption on Norton VPN.
Overall I found the VPN to be a pleasure to use and the auto-connect feature is certainly useful for making sure you don’t forget to protect your device when you join a public WiFi hotspot.
Performance (Speed, DNS, WebRTC, and IPv6 Tests)
I tested the VPN on a 50 Mbps fiber internet connection. I tested the UK and Netherlands servers from test servers located in the UK (at testmy.net). The US VPN server was tested from a test server (also at testmy.net) in New York. I found speeds to be pretty great, and much better than other reviews claim (which I assume means that Norton has upgraded its servers since other reviewers tested the service). However, speeds were up and down a bit compared to my base test results, and the US server was definitely the slowest of the ones I tested. Could be better, but not the worst I have ever tested by a long way.
As you can see, although there was a drop in speeds, Norton WiFi Privacy is fast enough to stream in HD. Overall I was impressed by the speeds that Norton VPN provided.
IP leaks, DNS leaks, WebRTC leaks, and IPv4 leaks
I found there to be no Internet Protocol (IP) leaks using Norton WiFi Privacy. In addition, despite the fact that ipleak.net did detect around 40 DNS addresses, the good news is that I was able to ascertain that Norton proxies those results. As such, despite the fact that Norton WiFi Privacy isn’t using its own servers for handling DNS requests, because they are proxied it is not a security concern.
More good news is that I encountered no Web Real-Time Communication (WebRTC) leaks or Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) leaks. Sadly, I was unable to test for IPv6 leaks because my ISP does not provide for IPv6 connections.
Norton WiFi Privacy VPN is available on all the most popular platforms, including Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android. It is not available for Linux.
The Android app is very similar to the Windows desktop app and has all of the same features. One awesome thing about Norton WiFi Privacy is that it has an ad-blocker built in. This is an awesome feature for Android users who want to avoid adverts. Due to the fact that Google Play Store doesn’t have any ad-blockers for Android, this VPN is an excellent solution. It is also one of the few VPNs that has this feature.
All in all, the Android software is very easy and pleasant to use due to its simple and colorful design. In addition, Norton VPN will automatically connect whenever you join an untrusted public WiFi network. As such, Norton WiFi Privacy is specifically well designed to be a good WiFi security option.
In addition to Norton WiFi Privacy, Norton sells an antivirus and security suite with online backup. This can be purchased in three different packages (standard, deluxe and premium). It can also be bundled in with the VPN service (for one device).
Norton WiFi Privacy Review: Conclusion
- Easy to use
- Good resources on the website
- 24/7 live chat support
- Servers in 26 countries
- Good solution for staying secure on public WiFi
- 60-day money-back guarantee
- Seven-day free trial (on Google Play Store only)
- Pretty fast connection speeds
I wasn’t so sure about:
- Doesn’t unblock US Netflix
- Requires a phone number to subscribe
- Poor level of knowledge on the 24/7 support
- Poor OpenVPN encryption implementation (weak handshake)
- Appears to lie about being zero logs