If you listened to podcasts in the early 2010s, we’re sure you heard of LifeLock — they advertised like crazy on podcasts back then. Since those early days, LifeLock has been refining their services and in 2017, they were purchased by digital security company Symantec. In November 2019 the company was renamed NortonLifeLock and a new service was created.
Now combining antivirus software with identity theft protection might seem like a strange union, but it really works here. Cybersecurity and fraud prevention go hand-in-hand, so it makes sense to combine the two discrete services into one mega-service that protects from all angles. Before we get into the ins and outs of NortonLifeLock, though, let’s look at some general pros and cons.
There’s a reason why NortonLifeLock is now one of the most recognizable names in the identity theft protection game. They do… well… everything. Seriously, there are a ton of features here, so let’s start by breaking it down by tier and by category. And for even more information on this, check out our LifeLock pricing breakdown.
Note that each plan includes the mainstays like identity and social security monitoring, lost wallet protection, address change verification, dark web monitoring, and data breach notifications. But that’s where the plans begin to diverge. Here’s what you can expect from each plan tier.
|Credit Monitoring||Single Bureau||Single Bureau||Single Bureau||Triple Bureau|
|Bank Account Alerts||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|Crimes In Your Name Alerts||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|Annual Credit Report and Scores||No||No||Single Bureau||Triple Bureau|
|Monthly Credit Score Tracking||No||No||No||Yes|
|Checking and Savings Account Application Alerts||No||No||No||Yes|
|401k and Investment Account Application Alerts||No||No||No||Yes|
|Bank Account Takeover Alerts||No||No||No||Yes|
|File-Sharing Network Searches||No||No||No||Yes|
|Sex Offender Registry Reports||No||No||No||Yes|
|Stolen Funds Reimbursement||Up to $25,000||Up to $25,000||Up to $100,000||Up to $1 million|
|Personal Expense Compensation||Up to $25,000||Up to $25,000||Up to $100,001||Up to $1 million|
|Coverage for Lawyers and Experts||Up to $1 million||Up to $1 million||Up to $1 million||Up to $1 million|
|US-Based Restoration Specialists||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|24/7 Live Support||Member Support||Member Support||Member Support||Priority Support|
|Number of Devices||0||5||10||Unlimited|
|Cloud Backup for Windows PC||No||Up to 100 GB||Up to 250 GB||Up to 500 GB|
|Virus Protection Promise||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|VPN||No||Up to 5 Devices||Up to 10 Devices||Unlimited Devices|
|SafeCam for Windows PCs||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Phew! That’s more functions than top-tier services like Identity Guard or ID Shield offer, but is all of this protection even necessary? Well, we definitely wanted to test out everything the service has to offer, so we went ahead and signed up for the Ultimate Plus tier.
The first thing we were asked to do was enter our email address and create a password. A quick little note on passwords, here. One of the services included with NortonLifeLock is a password manager, which is a helpful tool to keep login information secure. They are encrypted so no one can access them but you, and they take a lot of the memorization work out of having a really secure password. We recommend making this password at least eight characters long and including special symbols and punctuation. Avoid common words and phases — the more random your password, the more secure it is.1
Did You Know: At least 65 percent of people use the same password across multiple sites, even though the practice is a tremendous security risk.
Then, we were asked if we wanted to add NortonLifeLock for our family or children. Since we’re only reviewing the individual service, we didn’t need to add anyone to it, but this is something to strongly consider if you have a family or kids. Children are a prime target for identity thieves as they are essentially a clean slate, and the warning signs of identity theft can take much longer to show up for kids than they will for adults (no 7 year old is checking their credit score).2
If you want to learn more about ways to protect your little ones, we recommend reading about our latest findings for identity theft protection for children. And if you’re interested in complete family protection, then you’ll definitely want to read our guide on the best identity theft protection for families.
Next, we entered our payment information. Truth be told, we got a little frustrated here. NortonLifeLock really wants you to sign up for an annual membership, and even though we selected monthly billing, we had to flip a little toggle away from the annual billing default back to monthly — essentially selecting it twice.
We were right about to hit “submit” when we realized we were about to pay ten times what we were anticipating. Yes, in the long run annual billing will save you money, but if you’re just looking to try out the service, you probably don’t want to drop $300 out of the gates. No biggie, just know that we recommend monthly billing.
So once we had the appropriate plan selected, we were able to activate our membership. But first, we had to actually download the service onto our machine.
This is pretty unique, but it’s understandable since a significant portion of the services we purchased center on cybersecurity and device protection.
Once we clicked “Get Started,” we were prompted to download a .zip file. We consider ourselves pretty tech-savvy, so this wasn’t really a big deal to us, but we really appreciated how NortonLifeLock walked us through the process.
Once we executed the file, we were walked through an install process. In the same vein as before, this was clearly designed with the lay-person in mind. Even if you’re not a “computer person,” this service can still be for you!
Once everything was installed and our computer was restarted, we were able to start setting everything up. Something important to note — NortonLifeLock runs as both its own local program as well as having a browser-based dashboard. Let’s start by taking a look at the local program.
Upon first boot of the program, we had a few options to activate. Device Security (i.e. virus protection) was already activated, so we moved on to setting up the VPN.
What’s a VPN? Glad you asked. VPN stands for “Virtual Private Network.” The easiest way to describe it without using a bunch of techno-speak is as a personal tunnel between your computer and the internet. If everyone else’s computer is getting to the internet using heavily trafficked surface roads, you’re getting there via your own private thoroughfare no one else can access.3 That means hackers and other cybercriminals are less likely to learn your patterns and get the best of you.
Did You Know: VPNs can help prevent identity theft by encrypting all data traffic. This means hackers can’t access sensitive information like account details and passwords.
Turning it on was easy enough, and we were happy to find there were some dials and knobs we could fiddle with. In fact — we could even spoof our location. While that might not sound cool to you, it certainly is if you want to watch movies that are only available on the Canadian version of Netflix. We’ll just say, we’ve heard great things about The Disaster Artist!
Next, we were provided with a password manager. This is an excellent tool for people concerned with password security that can’t commit to memory dozens of different strings of random letters, numbers, and symbols. Again, the set up was easy enough. It installed as an extension to our browser and after jumping through a few authentication hoops, we were asked to create a “vault.”
For added security, this vault is password-protected, but NortonLifeLock does not store this one. Another way of saying that is it’s unrecoverable. Commit this one to memory, or your vault will be inaccessible.
Once that password was created, we had access to our vault where we could store the login credentials for all of our various services and sites. No more guessing the password we created for our car insurance provider’s website a year and a half ago! We think you’ll like this feature.
Next on the list was our cloud backup. Our subscription came with up to 500 GB of cloud storage, which means it could easily handle the entirety of our desktop’s hard drive.
Unfortunately, this function wasn’t as easy to access as the others. When we tried to set it up, we were met with various error messages. Finally, we clicked on the “help” tab and found out that our subscription’s cloud backup was only available on machines running Windows. Kind of disappointing that we can’t use something we paid for, but looking back at the list of services, they were clear from the get-go that some functions don’t work on Macs.
That covers it for the program side of NortonLifeLock, next we were on to the online portal to set up our credit monitoring and identity theft services.
Once we logged in, we were met with a tutorial — which we always like to see. Higher quality services like Identity Guard and Identity Force both have similar walkthrough features, which always helps orient the customer regardless of their expertise. This quick slideshow gave us a brief overview of what each function does and where to find certain information.
Once that was complete, we were redirected to our dashboard. The first thing we noticed was we already had one alert, so we wanted to check in on that first.
Now, we know a thing or two about identity theft, and we’ve reviewed a lot of services, but this was the first time we’ve seen a Home Title Notification, so we were a little nervous. Usually these alerts are things like our email address being found on the dark web seven years ago. Fortunately for us, this wasn’t a problem. It was simply alerting us that a property was found associated with our name. The property belongs to us, so there was no need for further action.
If action was needed, though, NortonLifeLock’s alerts provided us with next steps, similar to what we saw with IdentityForce. This is really helpful to make sure the appropriate action is taken when necessary, or for keeping anxiety under control.
Did You Know: About 33 percent of U.S. adults have experienced some sort of identity theft — more than twice the global average.
Once that was taken care of, we wanted to make sure NortonLifeLock was monitoring everything we wanted it to. By clicking on “Monitored Info” in the top navigation bar, we were able to add information that wasn’t automatically imported from the setup process like our mother’s maiden name, our driver’s license number, and even our gamertag. Note that the level of detail here is exactly what we like to see, and we’re sure you’ll feel confident in your protections.
Next, we moved on to our credit score section. Our subscription included a monthly Equifax credit score and an annual three-bureau credit score and report with credit monitoring. After retrieving our reports, we could cycle through the three bureaus and drill down into the data including our accounts, our credit utilization, and our personal associated information. We weren’t immediately impressed by the level of detail here, but we were happy to find that by downloading the report, it became more complete.
From there we moved on to the Identity Lock function. Similar to ID Watchdog, here we could lock our TransUnion credit report to prevent thieves from opening up cards or requesting loans in our name. We were also given links to freeze our credit reports at the remaining two bureaus as well as place bank security and utility security freezes.
A quick note on locks and freezes, though. Both are useful tools in preventing identity theft, but locks are easier to set up than freezes, which require contacting the credit bureau directly. We highly recommend doing this. While credit monitoring is a useful tool in detecting identity theft, freezing (or locking) your accounts is a preventative measure.4
Pro Tip: Freezing your credit report is free to do, and is a relatively simple process. Start by visiting each bureau’s website and following their step-by-step instructions.
Next on the navigation was transaction monitoring. Here, NortonLifeLock can compile all of our financial accounts in one place to monitor for suspicious activity, and it enables us to set thresholds so we’d be alerted if large amounts of money are moved around.
This is a great feature, particularly for people like us who don’t religiously check our account balances. We saw something similar with Identity Guard and really liked the functionality. But If you’re not using a service like this, you really should be checking your account balances daily.
Next, we explored a unique service we’ve only seen offered by NortonLifeLock — Online Privacy Monitoring. Using this service, NortonLifeLock monitors data brokers for personal information that these companies use to build profiles based on browsing history and public records to sell to marketers and advertisers.5 NortonLifeLock scans these data brokers, and can request that a file be deleted on your behalf:
However, it’s important to note that the privacy monitor assistant that will actually get your file removed is not included with the subscription. That’ll cost an additional $49.99.
Finally, we took a look at the ID Restoration tab. Since we don’t have any active cases, there was nothing to see here. Which is actually good news — identity theft restoration is an extremely labor-intensive and costly process — particularly if you’re doing it on your own. Luckily with NortonLifeLock, we had access to their team of specialists who handle everything from initial complaint to resolution, and we were assured up to $1 million in identity theft recovery insurance. For context, this is the industry standard, as we see with services like IDnotify and CompleteID.
Did You Know: It can take months or even years to recover from identity theft. Being proactive about your protection will help you avoid these headaches in the long run.
So that’s that! We found the desktop experience to be robust and complete. There were no major hiccups, and everything worked the way it was intended. We were plenty happy with the service as it was, and we felt all-around protected and confident that our identity was in good hands. But we wanted to check out the mobile app as well. Well, actually it’s apps… we’ll explain that next.
So the first thing to note here is that the full NortonLifeLock suite of services is actually broken up between two apps — Security and LifeLock Identity.
The first gave us access to our VPN and let us know if our connection was secure and encrypted, as well as provided us with information about potential security threats on our device. The second app gave us access to our credit monitoring and identity theft protections that we went through earlier.
Simply put — these are some of the best apps we’ve seen thus far. The vast majority of identity theft protection service apps are little more than mobile versions of their website and generally feel like afterthoughts. Not so with NortonLifeLock. These felt designed with user experience in mind, and while there were obvious design elements that carried over from the desktop version, the apps felt like their own platforms. The navigation felt intentional and optimized for mobile use, which is not something we can say for many services. Big time bonus points for NortonLifeLock here.
So after using NortonLifeLock for a considerable amount of time, we’re happy to say we’re more than pleased with the service. Their unique cybersecurity functionality and services were meaningful additions to an already robust array of protections. We weren’t too happy that some of these functions were only available on PC, but at the end of the day, it wasn’t too big of a deal.
We loved that the apps were fully built-out and didn’t feel like afterthoughts — something really unique in this industry that makes NortonLifeLock stand apart. We were enthusiastically happy with this service, and we’re confident you’ll have a similar experience if you decide to go with NortonLifeLock.
Hoffman, C. (2018, May 9). How to Create a Strong Password (And Remember It). How-To Geek. https://www.howtogeek.com/195430/how-to-create-a-strong-password-and-remember-it/
Berman, J. (2019, December 3). Yes, Your Child Needs ID Theft Protection. Forbes.
Eddy, M. (2020, July 1). What is a VPN, and Why You Need One. PC Magazine.
Jayakumar, A. (2019, May 10). Credit Lock Vs. Credit Freeze. What’s the Difference? Nerdwallet.
Melendez, S. and Pasternack, A. (2019, March 2). Here are the Data Brokers Quietly Buying and Selling your Personal Information. Fast Company.