In addition to providing antivirus protection, Checkpoint ZoneAlarm Anti-Spyware 6.5 provides three layers of firewall protection. ZoneAlarm guards at the Internet gateway so that intruders don't get in, on the desktop at the program level so that bogus programs don't connect to the Internet, and inside the operating system kernel where rootkits and other malware can hide. ZoneAlarm remains in two-way communication with your firewall whenever you are connected to the Internet. As new threats emerge, ZoneAlarm Anti-Spyware 6.5 is able to pass along new firewall rules and, in the case of extremely malicious activity, shut down any program that attempts dangerous activity. For antispyware protection, ZoneAlarm compares your system against its own collection of malware, then quarantines or removes any offenders it finds.
Wisely, ZoneAlarm's makers haven't changed the program's clean and intuitive interface. Features such as Firewall, Antivirus, and Firewall Logs run down the left side of the screen. There's a column for advice regarding each feature section, then there's the main screen, including layered tabs for configuration options. Why McAfee and Norton haven't switched to a similar design is beyond us. Gamers will appreciate a new option which quiets the pop-up messages from ZoneAlarm Anti-Spyware 6.5 while you are in the midst of playing a full-screen adventure game.
But all is not yet perfect within ZoneAlarm Anti-Spyware 6.5. Pop-ups remain an issue, flashing whenever you restart your computer as various processes and services request control. You can ask ZoneAlarm Anti-Spyware 6.5 to remember your decision to allow or deny access, but many readers have complained in the past that ZoneAlarm remains "noisy." ZoneAlarm Antivirus does provide a tutorial; while helpful, it is still more of a marketing tool than an informative one. However, the built-in help file is 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.