In the light of recent virus scares around the globe, Norton's unveiling of the latest version of its AntiVirus package couldn't have been more timely.

Norton's maker, Symantec, revealed that the top five bugs to hit the UK in August were:

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With so many bugs in the wild, up-to-date virus protection is more essential than ever. Norton AntiVirus 2004 promises to shield your PC from the latest strains, as well as from emerging intrusions such as spyware and keystroke logging programs.

"With the emergence of recent high-profile security threats like Bugbear and Blaster, which are complicated and blended in nature, traditional antivirus solutions are no longer enough to guarantee trouble-free computing," says Symantec's Steve Cullen.

Norton AntiVirus 2004 will now scan for programs that can be used with malicious intent to compromise the security of a PC, spy on private data or track online behaviour. To keep your computer secure it will block such programs at point of entry by scanning emails and instant messages, as well as detecting them during system scans.

It will even scan compressed files of the type shared on peer-to-peer networks, so you won't end up downloading an infected file.

But Symantec has taken a leaf out of Microsoft's book — and unfortunately it's not the most popular page — by includeing an activation feature in its software. The company says this is to protect users against fake packages, but we think the move is far more likely to be designed to protect is profits against users installing software on more than one PC.

Standard and Professional versions of the program will be available from September. The Pro version includes data recovery and protection features and comes with a two-computer license. Norton AntiVirus 2004 Standard is priced £39.99, while the Pro version costs £49.99, upgrades are priced £24.99 and £29.99 respectively. All prices include a one-year subscription to the Symantec's LiveUpdate service.

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