BlackIce, although often lumped together with personal firewalls such as ZoneAlarm and Kerio Personal Firewall, is an IDS (intrusion detection system), making it more like a nightclub bouncer than a swipecard entry system. A personal firewall monitors incoming and outgoing Internet traffic (called packets) by checking the identity (the port and protocol) being used by each packet. BlackIce does the same, but it also analyses the traffic, looking for suspicious behaviour.
BlackIce PC Protection 3.5 has new application and communication controls to prevent malicious software from running, and blocks unauthorised access to the Internet and other networks. These changes counter criticism that earlier versions of BlackIce lacked outbound access control to prevent spyware leaking personal data or malicious software from using a computer to mount attacks on others.
BlackIce also checks identity but then takes a closer look at the contents of packets, analysing their make-up to identify potential threats. When it detects unusual behaviour, BlackIce compares it against a database of known exploits and, if there’s a match, it blocks the traffic or application, whether inbound or outbound. By combining firewall and intrusion detection software, BlackIce can offer more effective protection than a personal firewall — but any security system is only as good as its configuration.
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