ZoneAlarm Firewall Spreads to Nets

Zone Labs Inc. released on Monday a version of its ZoneAlarm personal firewall for networks in small offices and homes that features more protection against Internet-borne viruses.

ZoneAlarm Pro, priced at $39.95 for a single license, builds on the personal firewall program but targets higher-end and small business users with advanced configuration options and network support. It may also appeal to "more techie home users," says Zone Labs spokesperson Frederick Felman.

ZoneAlarm has been popular for its relatively simple interface and default configuration, which make it fully functional right after installation. The Pro release maintains the same look and feel as well as the same underlying software engine, dubbed TrueVector, but it lets you get under the hood and tweak settings if you have the technical know-how.

For example, the Security Panel still has convenient sliders that let you choose among High, Medium, and Low security settings. But the new version's panel includes a Customize button that lets you refine the firewall rules that apply to each security level.

Likewise, the Program Panel that governs how applications access the Internet now includes an option to configure rules for each individual application. You can dictate when and how they can contact to the Net, as well as what ports, or network connections, they can use.

Antivirus Enhancements

ZoneAlarm Pro expands the original product's MailSafe utility, which scans e-mail attachments by file type and quarantines possible viruses so you can examine them before they run. The original MailSafe scanned only for Microsoft Visual Basic (.vbs) scripts, which are commonly used in viruses, such as the notorious Love Bug virus that spread last May.

ZoneAlarm Pro adds 36 file types to the MailSafe repertoire. You can set the firewall to automatically scan for any number of the file types, and you can add more types to the list.

Zone Labs will continue to offer both versions of its personal firewall. The basic version of ZoneAlarm is free for home users and nonprofit organizations.

"We'll continue to develop both, and we'll continue to differentiate the two," Felman says. The basic ZoneAlarm will remain available as a free download. Zone Labs claims more than four million people have downloaded the program since its introduction in January.

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