Also, most vendors have opted out of including parental controls (or calling them such). ZoneAlarm includes a Parental Control feature in its left-hand column. While you don't have to have children in the house to want to filter Web sites and e-mail content, it's refreshing to see that ZoneAlarm continues to include it within its suite under a recognizable name.
But all is not yet perfect within ZoneAlarm. The program includes antiphishing protection, but we think it's a little unconventional. Instead of a toolbar that checks sites visited, ZoneAlarm maintains a list of trusted sites, some provided by ZoneAlarm and some custom sites you can add. The trusted sites tab can also tell you if the trusted site is transmitting your personal information via clear text. Other suites we've reviewed offer toolbars for Firefox and IE that checked the validity of the site before allowing access. Antiphishing technology is an emerging technology, and it'll be interesting to see what methodology becomes dominant in the coming year.
Missing from the ZoneAlarm Internet Security Suite 7 are features that back up and shred data files. Perhaps we'll see them in the next version.
For antivirus protection, ZoneAlarm partnered with Kaspersky. We did not specifically test the antivirus engine within ZoneAlarm, but is based on Kaspersky Anti-Virus 6, which scored well in CNET Labs' performance tests and scored exceptionally well in third-party, independent antivirus testing using live viruses. On our iTunes test, Kaspersky Anti-Virus 6 was first, with a fast 174 seconds, just 12 seconds above our test system. On our Sorensen Squeeze test, Kaspersky Anti-Virus 6 was second, with 256 seconds, just 15 seconds more than our test system. For scanning a single folder with files, Kaspersky came in the middle of the pack, requiring 160 seconds. And in boot speed, Kaspersky came in third, with a respectable 62 seconds. To find out how we test, see CNET Labs' How we test: software: antivirus page. In terms of protecting your PC, we cite results from two leading independent antivirus testing organizations. In the latest test results from AV-Comparatives.org, Kaspersky Anti-Virus 6 earned an Advanced + (highest) rating, catching 99 percent of all malware tested. And from CheckVir.com, Kaspersky Anti-Virus 6 was one of eight products to earn its Standard (or highest) rating.
Check back to read about our CNET Labs testing of the ZoneAlarm firewall and antispyware protection in the coming weeks.
Included with the purchase of Check Point ZoneAlarm Internet Security 7 is one year of software updates and both e-mail- and keyword-based virtual support, along with access to a well-attended user forum. Purchase does not, however, include free telephone support. Only Trend Micro provides that. Support by phone from Check Point is available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT, Monday through Friday (excluding major holidays), but it costs a hefty $2.95 per minute--about the same as what McAfee and Symantec charge for their phone support.
ZoneAlarm Internet Security Suite 7 lacks printed documentation, but we found the new flash tutorial to be more informative than past efforts. The built-in help file is also excellent, thorough, and very specific, effectively balancing detail and clarity. And the ZoneAlarm online forums are active, with users worldwide eager and willing to answer your questions--something that Norton and McAfee don't offer.
ZoneAlarm Internet Security Suite 7 provides the perfect balance between best-of-breed security protection and ease of use, providing the home user with superior protection that's light on system resources, allowing you to work unencumbered.