Zone Labs ZoneAlarm has always been a reliable firewall, and the latest Pro version continues this tradition. In my informal testing, it easily fended off port scans while simultaneously keeping a close eye on Internet-enabled applications.
You can download the basic firewall for free, but spending $US50 on ZoneAlarm Pro 4 brings you extra bundled goodies that block cookies, Web ads, browser pop-ups and e-mail worms. Best of all, in my tests Pro 4’s extra features did not cause any of the system problems some users experienced with its predecessor.
Beyond its fundamental firewall and blocking capabilities, Pro 4 offers more tools for e-mail. In addition to the Inbound MailSafe feature that quarantines suspect e-mail attachments, Pro 4 includes a new, configurable Outbound MailSafe feature that stops mass-mailing viruses and worms by halting messages sent to more than 50 recipients, thwarting attempts to send more than five messages in two seconds, and warning you when an application other than your e-mail program tries to send a message.
These new features make Pro 4 a more robust privacy watchdog, but the program’s Alert Advisor remains a weak spot. Meant to offer detailed information when Pro 4 detects a new application trying to access the Internet, Alert Advisor fails to identify most apps — even some that are well known, such as Netscape, let alone adware programs such as Ezula and Gator. Instead, the program offers generic advice, noting that if you (and ZoneAlarm) cannot identify an application, “it is safest to adopt a cautious strategy”.
Still, Zone Alarm Pro 4 improves on its well-reviewed predecessors. A rock-solid firewall coupled with superior e-mail tools, it’s a worthy upgrade and a strong addition to any privacy arsenal.
In briefZone Labs ZoneAlarm Pro 4
Reliable firewall has improved security and privacy apps, but omits needed advice at times.
Vendor: Zone Labs