ZoneAlarm Antivirus 2012
Compatible Operating Systems: Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7.
Technical Support: live chat, forums, knowledge base. Paid telephone support.
The latest version, ZoneAlarm Antivirus 2012 adds some new features to the mix and the old modules are still available, including antiphishing, antitheft protection, antispam, and full-disk encryption.
- Fastest Updating Signature List detects and stops even the most recent viruses that others miss.
- Smartdefence Service provides real-time security updates, quick response to breaking threats, and leverages threat data from millions of users to protect your PC.
- Automatically analyzes your downloads to determine if they are safe or malicious.
- OS Firewall monitors behaviors within your computer to spot and stop even the most sophisticated new attacks.
- Automatic Wireless Network Security detects wireless networks and automatically applies the most secure firewall protection setting.
- Blocks spyware distribution sites and fraudulent "phishing" websites that trick you into revealing personal data.
The initial release of Check Point's ZoneAlarm Extreme Security was quite exciting, because it added the virtualization-based protection of ZoneAlarm ForceField to the company's full-featured Internet security suite. Well, the latest version, ZoneAlarm Extreme Security 2010 adds some new features to the mix and the old modules are still available, including antiphishing, antitheft protection, antispam, and full-disk encryption.
Apart from ForceField, the suite also includes some third-party components, including SonicWall's antispam, Kaspersky's anti-malware, Large Software's system tune-up, Identity Guard's credit protection, iDrive's online backup, and full-disk encryption from the enterprise division of Check Point.
We put ZoneAlarm through some thorough testing and found that on half of our test systems, which were infected by malware, ZoneAlarm would only install or scan in Safe Mode. Two others displayed the blue-screen of death, and two others lost network connectivity. We ran special utilities and sent huge dump files to Check Point's technical support, but it didn't help. The solution was to remove Extreme Security, clean the system up using the plain ZoneAlarm suite, then re-install Extreme Security. After this, ZoneAlarm Antivirus worked, but Extreme Security didn't. It took a week to deal with these problems, and the lost-connectivity problems remained unsolved.
Conclusion: There are integration issues, and overall this was not a good installation experience.
The anti-malware scan in Extreme Security is fast. Our standard clean system was scanned in around 20 minutes. As far as the rival products go, the average scan took 30 minutes, and Kaspersky Antivirus took 40 minutes. Because Extreme Security and Kaspersky do not re-check known-good files, subsequent scans using both of them took only about 2 minutes.
High-risk threats are handled immediately by the malware scanner. For lower-risk threats, the user is prompted as to how to handle them. Its treatments are applied quickly, and, unlike Fsecure Antivirus, it doesn't divide the threats into multiple pages. If a threat can't be resolved on the first attempt, it offers to try repeated actions, including Rename, Quarantine, Repair, Delete, or Delete on Reboot. Sometimes it worked through the entire list before settling on Failed.
In our malware removal test, Extreme Security scored the lowest of any product, with 6.3 points out of 10. This was even lower than Kaspersky's 6.7. Just fewer than 90 percent of threats were detected by the ZoneAlarm suite, but it wasn't very effective at cleaning them up. A third of the threats left executable behind, and some were still active after cleanup. All non-executable traces were left behind for a quarter of the threats. In the commercial keylogger test, we awarded Extreme Security 4.4 out of 10 - this was below average but beat Kaspersky's low score of 1.6.
In the rootkit test, Extreme Security detected all except one of the samples, and successfully eliminated the rootkit elements of all those it picked up, which gave it a 6.1 score. This was above average but not as good as Norton Antivirus 7.9 points. Extreme Security did badly in the rogue internet security (scareware) test, sharing the lowest score of 3.0 points with Kaspersky.
The first line of Extreme Security's defense against new malware threats lies in blocking dangerous websites. When we tried to re-download malware samples, more than 80 percent of the websites were blocked - this was even better than Norton's result. If the website is not blocked, charge is taken of the download. If ZoneAlarm is unable to vouch that the download is safe, it offers to run an advanced scan in virtual space - this is a new feature in the current version.
This advanced scan takes a minute or so, and only activates after the download is complete. Norton handles this slightly better, with Download Insight, which kicks in straight away and will often deal with malware long before the download is complete. We found that Extreme Security's advanced scan flagged several threats, unfortunately it also identified its own online backup utility as a threat - this error was quickly fixed by Check Point!
When opening a folder containing already-downloaded threats, about two-thirds of them were quarantined straight away by the on-access scanner. That isn't a bad result, but not as good as Norton Antivirus which cleared up nearly 95 percent straight away. In a further test with hand-modified versions of the samples, Extreme Security failed to pick up almost a third of the samples it had handled the first time.
Conclusion: maybe Extreme Security's signatures need to be a little more flexible.
In the malware blocking test, the best performer was Norton Antivirus, with 9.6 points, followed by Kaspersky Antivirus with 8.6. Extreme Security's score of 8.2 was a little below average. In the commercial keyloggers test, the average result was 5.6 points. Kaspersky scored 3.0, and Extreme Security scored 4.4 points.
In the rogue internet security (scareware) test, Extreme Security and Kaspersky shared the lowest score of 3.0. In the rootkit test, Extreme Security failed to prevent one rootkit from installing, and missed another altogether. It's score in this test (6.1 points) beat Kaspersky's 5.1 and the average score of 5.7. Norton is the best performer in the rootkit tests, with 7.9 points.
We found an anomaly here: Extreme Security uses Kaspersky's anti-malware engine, but a comparison between Kaspersky and Extreme Security showed surprisingly different results.
We found that the installation of Extreme Security only had a slight impact on several of the real-world activities we used for testing performance impact. The browsing test, for example, added only 1 percent to the time - the only product to beat this was Norton, which added no discernible time.
In the file copying and moving test, Extreme Security added 15 percent to the time required to complete. In a zip/unzip test, Extreme Security added 13 percent. This isn't a bad result, but both K7 TotalSecurity Version 10.0 and Panda added just 4 percent.
In the system boot test, Extreme Security performed less well - it added 111 percent - more than twice the time. The ZoneAlarm suite, with its many features, definitely has an impact on performance in certain areas.
Full Disk Encryption is the most important new feature in the current edition of ZoneAlarm Extreme Security. It works in much the same way as Vista's BitLocker but it doesn't depend on Vista or a Trusted Protection Module Chip. You have the option to create a recovery disk during installation, and you can also store your recovery data with Check Point. If you find you've locked yourself out, the login screen offers a 24 x 7 telephone help line. So, if your laptop is stolen or lost, no-one will have access to your data.
You get 2GB of secure online storage with Extreme Security. This is provided by iDrive. This is available to everyone for free, like the edition of MozyHome Online Backup bundled with Trendmicro Antivirus. For $4.95 each month you can buy an extra 148 GB. The default setting is to backup the Desktop and My Documents once a day. You can backup other files and folders, and there is a continuous backup option which backs up changes as they occur.
You can recover files across the Internet or via the local client. Up to 30 versions of each file are saved, and you can recover a specific version or all versions back to a specified date. It is quite impressive
Our overall conclusion was that ZoneAlarm Extreme Security 2010 has some impressive features, such as Full Disk Encryption, online backup, ForceField virtualization and more. It slows system performance somewhat. It didn't install very well on malware-infested systems, but all in all it's a very good product.
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