Hardly a day passes without a new security exploit being uncovered, and with the increase in always-on home broadband internet access users face threats 24 hours a day, seven days a week. As a result there has been a recent surge in personal software firewalls. Many of the big companies, McAfee and Norton just to name a few, have released firewalls recently. However the best home firewall may be the relatively unknown Zone Alarm released by Zone Labs: http://www.zonealarm.com.
Zone Alarm has been around for a while, however in January of this year Zone Labs released version 2 of its firewall for beta testing purposes. After several months the results of this testing resulted in the release of Zone Alarm 2.1, which is free for personal use and $19.95 for business users.
Zone Alarm is what Steve Gibson calls “the perfect set it and forget it firewall”. Zone Alarm is very simple to install. Simply download and run the program and it will load automatically upon your next boot.
Zone Alarm is very simple to operate. It places a small icon in your system tray from which you can view incoming and outgoing traffic. Configuring Zone Alarm is very simple. You simply decide what level of security you wish to have in your local and internet traffic zones. The settings are Low, Middle, and High. Zone Alarm explains what each of these settings mean to you and how it will effect your computer usage.
One of the best features of Zone Alarm is its outbound monitoring feature. Zone Alarm will ask for your permission to let applications access the internet. You can set it to block access, allow for this time only, or allow always. Thus if you happen to have a trojan installed and it tries to access the Internet, Zone Alarm will let you know as soon as it tries. This feature is also outstanding at preventing so-called Ad-ware from dialing home without your permission.
Recently Zone Labs added a new feature to Zone Alarm that blocks visual basic e-mail virii such as the recent ‘I Love You’ virus.
Zone Alarm also has a logging feature that will allow you to save alerts to a text file for your examination. In addition when Zone Alarm blocks an intrusion attempt it gives you the option to connect to the Zone Labs site for more information on that possible intrusion attempt.
It also has an interesting feature called the Internet Lock. When active, the Internet Lock blocks all traffic to your system. You can turn it on manually or have Zone Alarm set it to come into effect after a certain amount of inactivity. Zone Alarms allows you to give applications, such as your e-mail client, to bypass the lock and still connect to the Internet.
I have tried several firewalls and, with the possible exception of the now defunct AtGuard, it is by far the best personal firewall now available.
Its combination of ease of use and excellent security makes it an excellent choice. In addition it’s free for personal use so what do you have to lose? Give Zone Alarm a try and make your stay on the net as safe as possible.
Submitted by: Zenwolf