Symantec unveils the 2010 editions of its flagship antimalware software, Norton AntiVirus and Norton Internet Security, adding a new type of malware detection and analysis it calls Quorum.

Quorum is the underlying technology used for reputation analysis to determine if a file a user encounters on the Web is harmful or harmless, according to Dan Nadir, director of Symantec's product management group, consumer division.

If a file is known to include malware, it will be blocked or eradicated. If a file is suspicious, a pop-up may recommend a user avoid that file, Nadir says. "But the majority of the time, this won't come into play because we will block or allow - this middle ground is when we're not 100% sure," he says.

Quorum's reputation analysis draws from a knowledge base that includes traditional antivirus signatures (these don't go away in Norton AntiVirus 2010 and Norton Internet Security 2010); Symantec's existing Sonar technology for behavioral analysis; a real-time database of malware information gleaned from millions of Symantec software users; and cloud-based analysis.

"We have access to a very high volume of data, about 30 million users," Nadir says. "We're monitoring network traffic using intrusion-prevention systems and URL reputations for untrustworthy sites."

This array of information is combined to make a rapid determination of good or bad files at the user's desktop through Quorum, Nadir says. "Think of the system as a judge. Quorum is adding other information, based on a collaborative vote, so to speak, so it can make a decision."

Norton AntiVirus 2010 is the more basic antimalware package for the desktop. Norton Internet Security adds capabilities that include firewall and antiphishing defense, plus Identity Safe for protection and management of personal profile information and passwords. Both packages include some new tools, such as System Insight, which can inform users about CPU and memory utilization over time.

While Quorum is not yet a technical feature in Symantec's corporate antimalware line, the security firm has a long history of introducing innovations into its consumer products, which are then added into upcoming corporate products.

Available for Windows 7, XP and Vista, Norton AntiVirus 2010 costs $39 and Norton Internet Security costs $69. Both will be available 9 September.