Symantec has launched a new version of its Norton 360 desktop software, used to back up documents and digital photos for storage on local media or in Symantec's online facilities.

In addition to backup capabilities, Norton 360 includes web security features for protecting users from phishing sites and provides a coloured indicator - green, yellow or red like a traffic light - to inform users which shopping sites are legitimate, questionable or should be avoided.

"The question is, can I trust this site, to interact with it and share personal information or a credit card?" says Mark Kanok, senior product manager for Norton 360. The software's SafeWeb feature dynamically makes a judgment about each site.

Kanok said Symantec's underlying methodology depended on several forms of analysis, including an automated web crawler, as well as work behind the scenes with various corporate partners to help protect their brands.

"We're targeting the top 200 global brands, like Nike, Cole Haan and Procter & Gamble, by product names," said Kanok. Nike, for instance, has 15,000 corporate-approved sites, he pointed out. But there are a "lot of 'typo-squatters' out there, some legitimate and some questionable" that also seek to sell goods when visitors land on them.

Some of the newer features in Norton 360 concern the back-up capabilities, which Symantec is expanding in the third version to give the more advanced users more options and flexibility in folder granularity and multiple backup destinations.

While users can manually back up files through a simple point-and-click feature, the process also can be set for automated backup by checking off "pictures," "music," "videos," and other file types to be automatically duplicated and backed up for safe storage at whatever intervals users want and wherever they want.

Norton 360 also will recognize that files made with applications such as TurboTax and Microsoft Money should be duplicated for backup, and can be customized to recognize specialised financial applications, too.

The backup of files and photos can be made to Symantec's online storage service; the vendor offers either 2GB or 25GB of storage in the cloud as part of its annual software licence options. In addition, Norton 360 users can back up unlimited files to local media, including USB keys, external hard drives, optical media, CDs and Blue Ray discs.

The software's web interface provides users with detailed information about backup history. Symantec will also have several foreign-language versions of Norton 360 Version 3.0 out, including German and Japanese.

A beta version of Norton 360 Version 3.0 is available now, and the final product is expected to ship in the first quarter of 2009 for Windows XP and Vista machines.

Pricing for the standard version of the product is $79.95(£49) per year, and the premier version costs $99(£61). Both options include licensing for up to three PCs.