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ZoneAlarm Pro Firewall PDF Print E-mail

ZoneAlarm Pro FirewallZoneAlarm Pro Firewall from Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. (Redwood City, California) is standalone Windows firewall software that stops traffic threats that are arriving or departing from a personal computer. The firewall cooperates with antivirus software and antispyware from competing vendors. Check Point also offers security suites that bundle the firewall with complementary security modules.

ZoneAlarm was a pioneer of firewall protection, offering it for free well before most users even understood the concept of a firewall. It was also one of the first personal firewalls to get "hardened" against attack. I've found no way that a malicious coder could write malware that would break ZoneAlarm's protection.

In addition to effectively protecting your system from outside attack, ZoneAlarm's firewall manages Internet and network access permissions for a vast number of known programs using the company's SmartDefense Advisor database. In testing, it did a good job detecting attempts to evade or subvert program control. While it doesn't actively block exploit attacks the way some high-end commercial firewalls do, the standalone ZoneAlarm firewall is our Editor's choice for free firewall protection.

The OSFirewall feature watches all running applications and warns if it detects suspicious activities. Behavior-based detection features like this one often yield false positives—valid programs identified as suspicious—and OSFirewall is no exception.

Firewall Performance : 9/10

Firewalls serve to protect by preventing infections. When infections sneak past the firewall, they become the responsibility of other guardians, namely antivirus software and antispyware. Once upon a time, the ZoneAlarm Pro Firewall included privacy control and scanned incoming email. Now that browsers have web-privacy controls and email applications scan incoming attachments, Check Point has streamlined ZoneAlarm Pro Firewall to avoid redundant functionality.

ZoneAlarm Pro Firewall

Security Features : 9/10

Other noteworthy features include the ability to analyze the potential danger of a downloaded program and the ability to authenticate when and where a website was registered and whether it is dangerous or safe. Although ZoneAlarm Pro does not scan incoming email, it does scan outgoing email for malignancies. The product includes an option to test a download in a safe virtual environment in case it manifests dangerous characteristics.

ZoneAlarm Pro Firewall includes many thoughtful touches that make it easy to be safe. Novices and experts can select appropriate configuration/management levels. If the firewall detects that it is in danger of being hijacked or sabotaged, it retreats into a completely protected state. A toolbar supports the antiphishing and site-status features.

A ZoneAlarm Pro-protected computer offers a dialog box in order set security levels in new network environments without having to open and configure a ZoneAlarm Pro window. The product makes it convenient to include printers and devices in a trusted network zone so that network functionality is not sacrificed to security.

The product can train itself to configure settings based on user behavior. It automatically updates itself to maintain current security lists. Users can control when and why the firewall sends alerts. Alerts are suppressible with one click for times when they might interfere with a game or other application where alerts might intrude on fun.

ZoneAlarm Pro Firewall

Help and Support : 8/10

Check Point’s sincere desire to differentiate itself from the competition is evident in the product design features as well as in the unusually comprehensive help and support. In addition to an online knowledge base, a blog, a user forum and a presence on Facebook and Twitter, Check Point offers customer-service chat 24/7. Technical-support chat is available on weekdays from 8am to 10pm in the United States (CST). After purchasing the product a user can return the product for a refund within 30 days. Version upgrades are free for the first 12 months. For customers who wind up in situations where Internet/email access goes down and they cannot close or uninstall ZoneAlarm Pro Firewall, Check Point maintains a telephone number dedicated to their rescue. In addition to the layers of protection in the ZoneAlarm Pro Firewall, the product includes a 12-month subscription to an identity protection service (for United States customers).

ZoneAlarm Pro Firewall

Conclusion

Check Point’s dedication to excellence is evident in the product design, implementation of features, ease of use and help and support. ZoneAlarm Pro Firewall users also benefit by being part of a networked community that shares information and tools to thwart new security threats. DefenseNet, managed by the ZoneAlarm security research team, receives anonymous data from each ZoneAlarm Pro Firewall user log in order to identify the signatures of quickly spreading threats. With millions of ZoneAlarm Pro Firewall user logs streaming into DefenseNet, Check Point is able to discover new malware and enable protection.

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