Plus & ZoneAlarm Pro v3.1
by: ZoneLabs, go
to the web site
PC or 100% compatible, Pentium 450 MHz or higher, Microsoft
Windows 98/Me/NT/2000 and XP, 64MB or higher, 10MB hard disk
(Plus), $49.95 (Pro) )
computer firewall is a program which runs in
the background, quietly scanning all requests
for information trying to enter or exit your
computer via the phone line, cable/DSL modem
or network to which your computer is attached.
Firewall software is designed around a set of
access rules which can be modified or at least
controlled to some extent by a user. Any information
request which doesn't obey the rules is halted,
after which the user is either notified and asked
for further instructions or the offending request
is simply aborted and logged for later viewing
an offending request? Everything from pop-up advertising,
web sites trying to place an executable (program) on your
system, Trojan Horse viruses trying to send data from your
computer to someone else, e-mail attachments trying to run
on or enter your computer, or another computer user attempting
to enter your computer via one of the so-called ports in your
network, e-mail or Internet access setup.
been a registered user of ZoneAlarm Pro for several years.
I started using a personal firewall when Network Ice released
their BlackIce product. But after seeing BlackIce more or
less derided by Steve Gibson's online security test (Gibson
Research at www.grc.com) I decided to switch to the freeware
version of ZoneZlarm. A brief experimental period with the
very capable Norton Personal Firewall in 2001 didn't convince
me to switch.
any event, you need to use protection. Cable, DSL, satellite
and dial-up Internet service providers don't provide firewalls.
If you're diligent about not opening file attachments unless
they've been checked by fully up-to-date antivirus software,
and if you're also diligent about keeping specious interests
out of the home and office, and if you stay away from questionable
web sites, the final loop which closes the basic security
net is likely to be firewall software. If your whole operation
- from a single home computer to a two computer home network,
all the way up to a large office network - sits behind a router,
then you're already experiencing some firewall protection.
In such a situation, it's likely that anyone outside your
network can only see the router's connection to the Internet,
not your individual computers.
course larger networks require open ports for all sorts of
reasons, creating greater vulnerability to attacks. There
are also lots of worms, trojans and other computer viruses
which enter home and business computers via file attachments,
install themselves, then propagate further by sending information
through any available Internet connection. One of the key
features of ZoneAlarm has always been its ability to monitor
incoming and outgoing traffic and force you to give specific
permission for a program to access the Internet. After ZoneAlarm
(any version) is installed, it asks you for permission to
allow Internet and network access to programs as you use them.
You can set a flag to always permit access by certain programs
so ZoneAlarm doesn't have to ask again. If a program you're
unfamiliar with requests Internet or network access, ZoneAlarm's
dialog pops up. You can look up the program and its function
before allowing access.
is it any good you ask? The answer is a resounding yes! There
are a couple of caveats mind you, the most important of which
is that you absolutely have to read the product documentation
before customizing the default installation of the software.
is available in three flavors: ZoneAlarm (freeware), ZoneAlarm
Plus (retail) and ZoneAlarm Pro (retail). While it doesn't
have the deeply comprehensive configuration options of Plus
or Pro, ZoneAlarm is free and more than sufficient for the
majority of home users. Plus is meant for moderately active
Internet users and SOHO (although most small businesses can
also make excellent use of Plus). Pro is designed for power
users, SOHO, small business and big business.
really like to see ZoneAlarm integrated with some Antivirus
software. The combination is natural and should be irresistible
to many consumers. SystemSuite 4 (originally owned and developed
by Mijenix then Ontrack and now VCOM - www.v-com.com) is a
great example of a solid, comprehensive system utility combining
top-ranked virus protection with an effective and thoroughly
tested firewall. Symantec's Norton Internet Security bundles
top-rated virus protection and a good personal firewall. ZoneLabs
has decided to continue concentrating on their excellent and
nearly eponymous firewall software without expanding into
or bundling with an antivirus program. Basic protection from
unusual e-mail attachments is provided by ZoneAlarm however
- it will rename the file extension of any unknown attachment
to prevent it from executing automatically.
If you're using SystemSuite 4 or higher, disable its built-in
NetDefense firewall because it does not get along with ZoneAlarm
Plus or ZoneAlarm Pro. Unfortunately, some programs apparently
don't like their processes interrupted by ZoneAlarm's protective
activity (the pop-up access request dialog) and will either
halt or, in rare cases, crash. We can't tell if this is a
Windows or an application problem. If you use one of the newer
home routers and ZoneAlarm, good luck get up and running with
Microsoft's NetMeeting. You'll need to open about 7 ports
using ZoneAlarm's configuration settings and the configuration
settings in your Router - not for the faint of heart.
The new user interface is much better than v2.x. There are
AlertAdvisor improvements, configurable start-up XML firewall
rules and optimized installation. Smart blocking of slow-loading
ads on Web pages. Effective pop-up ad blocking. Home and office
network users will love the way this version of ZoneAlarm
allows identification and naming of all detected networks
- very handy when firewalling computers connected via Wireless
Access Points. Protects against incoming hacker attacks as
well as preventing outgoing information from programs you
haven't authorized for Internet access. Best of all, you don't
need to know anything technical about any of this because
the user interface and the configuration is set up properly
right out of the box. Best of Breed to date. Recommended.
to the Editor are welcome and occasionally abused in public.
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