Zone Labs launches mid-range firewall

Looking to lure fans of its popular, free ZoneAlarm firewall to a fee-based product, Zone Labs Inc. has launched a new security package called ZoneAlarm Plus.

At a suggested retail price of US$40, ZoneAlarm Plus falls in between the company's two other online security offerings: The original ZoneAlarm, which you can download for free, and its well-reviewed and feature-laden $50 big brother, ZoneAlarm Pro.

All About Security

Just as its price falls between its siblings, so does ZoneAlarm Plus's capabilities. Geared specifically toward tighter overall security, it incorporates additional features not available in the free Zone Alarm, including advanced e-mail virus detection, hacker tracking, and program validation at the component level.

And like its more expensive sibling, ZoneAlarm Plus monitors all inbound and outbound Internet connections. An alarm function will alert users whenever an application tries to connect to the Internet.

Something For Everybody

"It turns out that a large number of users are what I'd categorize as firewall enthusiasts, interested in the security features, like password protection, and convenience features, like being able to automatically detect networks," says Fred Felman, vice president of marketing for Zone Labs.

Research also shows that many consumers and small business users are not interested in some of the other bells and whistles--such as cookie control and ad-blocking--that the company includes in its high-end package.

"We had a lot of requests for a product that is a little less pricey than the Pro product and as secure as the free ZoneAlarm product," he says.

Converting the Masses

Felman estimates ZoneAlarm has between 17 million and 19 million users in its several editions. The majority uses the giveaway software version, and it's that group the company hopes to attract with its new product.

"It's clear that this segment of the marketplace is more cost-conscious and tech-savvy," Felman says. "They just love our firewall technology and want it, but maybe not the filtering capabilities."

Another reason Zone Labs opted to roll out another product was to try to capture an emerging segment of the market. These users seem to be dissatisfied with today's bundled commercial security packages, so they're building their own.

"In some cases, these folks are assembling security suites themselves," says Felman. "They're saying 'I want this firewall, this anti-virus [program], and this other set of Internet utilities and I can assemble a suit for myself.'"

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