ZoneAlarm adds cloud automation to Free Firewall

Relaunches consumer product

Check Point has re-launched its most famous consumer product, the ZoneAlarm Free Firewall, adding an upgraded outbound defence layer with access to a cloud-based threat network.

The innovation of the revamped product is to tie in the collective threat reporting of what the company now calls its DefenseNet community into how the firewall works out what to block.

According to Check Point, this will have huge benefits when it comes to setting up the most complex aspect of desktop firewalling, outbound connections.

Windows 7 - the most secure version of the OS - comes with a competent firewall for incoming traffic but the outgoing filtering requires exceptions to be set up for individual applications to send packets out of the PC. Initially at least, this generates a barrage of alerts most consumers find baffling.

In many cases, the outgoing filtering is simply turned off, assuming it has even been turned on in the first place. Outbound connections matter to malware because they use it to communicate with remote servers or, in the example of botnets, to distribute spam without the user's knowledge.

According to Check Point, ZoneAlarm Free Firewall can overcome this problem by checking each user app against a database of applications hosted in its DefenseNet cloud and taken from the application's worldwide community. This will be able to answer 97 percent of queries in a 'hands off' mode, identifying known apps using an MD5 hash fingerprint.

Apps known to DefenseNet are allowed to send traffic out of the firewall, leaving only the small unknown number, including malware, to be blocked with an alert. Most of the time, Check Point says, the user will unaware of the whole checking process.

"Though it's necessary, antivirus is not enough. Consumers who do not have a powerful firewall are operating with an 'open door' policy, enabling hackers to access bank account information, passwords and credit card numbers," said Check Point's vice president of consumer sales, Bari Abdul.

Desktop firewalls are a curious piece of security technology. Every PC has one built into Windows, but few consumers have much idea of what they really do or whether downloading a new one is worth the bother.

The point of a firewall is really to monitor applications, but this often comes built into today's antivirus programs. Check Point's ZoneAlarm is really among the last of the standalone desktop firewalls for users who assemble their security using different vendors rather than buying them as a single suite.

This approach is increasingly becoming a zone abandoned to free applications that act as loss leaders and intelligence-gathering points for their makers.

ZoneAlarm can be downloaded free of charge from the company's website.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags zone alarmCloudsecurity

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John E. Dunn

Techworld
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?