The name ZoneAlarm should ring a bell for anyone even vaguely familiar with antivirus software. Since 1997, ZoneAlarm has been protecting computers all around the world from cyber threats. Over the years, Check Point Software’s application has grown from a simple antivirus app to a suite of specialized protection tools well-adapted to the challenges of the modern cyberscape.
Our ZoneAlarm review will reveal whether the application has successfully stood the test of time. With a combination of antivirus capabilities, a zero-day-attacks firewall, anti-phishing features, mobile protection, and other security capabilities, it seems to offer nearly impregnable armor against threats. But can it compete with industry titans? Let’s find out.
- Top-class antivirus engine
- Optional firewall
- Kill Controls prevent data leaks
- Threat Emulation virtual sandbox
- Robust mobile app
- Download monitoring
- All-in-one protection
- Proprietary firewall technology
- Scanning files in a safe, virtual sandbox
- Generous free plans
- Horrendous visuals
Main Features Overview
ZoneAlarm’s security packages come in two versions: The free stand-alone antivirus and firewall program - Pro Antivirus + Firewall - and ZoneAlarm Extreme Security, which has the most advanced security features. In our ZoneAlarm security review, we’ll check out this software security shield and look into how effectively it can defend your PC from danger.
Like most antivirus programs, ZoneAlarm runs in the background after you launch it, which lets it provide real-time protection. The dashboard looks like this:
There’s no other way to say this: ZoneAlarm’s Windows XP-esque visuals are unappealing at best. Besides the dated UI, the program looks slightly blurry, like it’s not compatible with high-resolution screens. However, behind the unattractive visuals lies a truly powerful security system.
The dashboard is divided into three main sections - Antivirus & Firewall, Web & Privacy, and Mobility & Data. In our ZoneAlarm Extreme Security review, we found the layout to be intelligently organized, intuitive, and easy to navigate. Clicking on a given section takes you to a screen with specific measures you can toggle on or off or scans you can run or schedule.
In the top-right corner are the Scan, Update, Tools, and Help buttons. The Scan button allows you to run quick or regular antivirus scans; the Update button serves to check for antivirus database updates and new versions of ZoneAlarm software; the Tools section is where you find system diagnostics and a toggle for Game mode; finally, the Help button is where you go to contact support or check the knowledge base.
Now we’ll delve deeper into our ZoneAlarm Antivirus and Firewall review. The backbone of ZoneAlarm’s defenses - and what the company has built its name on - is antivirus protection. ZoneAlarm’s antivirus technology provides real-time protection for your PC, constantly scanning for new threats that may appear from any source: Emails, websites, executables, and so on. ZoneAlarm’s virus protection operates at kernel level (the core of your PC’s operating system), so it can guarantee thorough protection.
The Antivirus & Firewall tab lets you run and schedule scans to detect viruses and spyware. You can specify when you want to run quick scans and full scans, and define which will trigger when you press the Scan Now button. As most ZoneAlarm antivirus reviews will tell you, you shouldn’t run Full Scans too often, as they take quite a while and effectively prevent you from using your PC during that time.
ZoneAlarm lets you toggle behavioral scanning on and off. With this extremely useful feature, ZoneAlarm checks your system for strange behavior. This lets it identify infections even for malware that’s not yet in the antivirus database, so we definitely recommend keeping it enabled.
Like most antivirus software, ZoneAlarm lets you check which files are in quarantine. You can add exceptions to the scan list for benign programs and data whose safety you are sure of.
While researching for our ZoneAlarm antivirus review, we noticed that scanning files on access is turned off by default. It might be helpful to turn it on if your PC can handle regular small-scale scans, as this will protect you from most malicious executable files.
ZoneAlarm’s firewall is as impressive as its antivirus features: It protects your system from inbound attacks while stopping data thieves on their way out the door. The firewall automatically blocks suspicious unauthorized connections, while “Full Stealth” mode makes you undetectable to hackers.
As we compiled our ZoneAlarm firewall review, we also noticed that ZoneAlarm features Kill Controls. This feature is similar to the kill switch found with some VPNs. It shuts off malicious programs immediately, preventing them from sending information out to the network - and, presumably, the hackers who launched them.
ZoneAlarm uses proprietary firewall technology called OSFirewall, which the company says provides better protection than you find with other antiviruses and firewalls. Other extremely useful features include zero-hour protection and application control, which keep you safe while your system is booting, and other security programs haven’t even started up yet. Additionally, during our ZoneAlarm firewall general review, we saw that the firewall also has Wi-Fi protection, reducing the risk of connecting to unsecured public networks.
We found ZoneAlarm’s threat assessment a bit overzealous. In our tests, it automatically blocked 20 programs, which might prevent important processes and updates from running. Make sure to check the list of blocked programs to remove ones you know are safe.
As you can see, the Firewall tab gives you an overview of your security level within different zones. Under Advanced Settings, you can fine-tune firewall settings for the type of network you’re currently on.
Web & Privacy
The next stop in our ZoneAlarm review is the Web & Privacy tab. Here you’ll find two tools for increasing your security while browsing.
The first is the Web Secure extension for Google Chrome. The purpose of this extension is to safeguard you from phishing attacks and allow downloading documents safely via Chrome. The extension isn’t installed by default; you need to install it from the Web & Privacy tab if you wish to use it.
In addition to protecting your PC from phishing attacks, the browser protection extension blocks malicious scripts, files, and executables from the sites you visit. Our ZoneAlarm internet security review rated this as very useful, so it’s unfortunate that it’s available for Google Chrome only, and no other popular browsers.
The second tool in this section is the Anti-Keylogger, also inactive by default. It can block programs that secretly record your keystrokes - especially, but not only, when you’re entering passwords.
Mobility & Data
Ransomware attacks have become an increasingly common type of cyberattack in recent years, and potentially one of the most damaging. ZoneAlarm has recently introduced an anti-ransomware system to combat this emergent threat. During our ZoneAlarm anti-ransomware review, we saw that this system serves to block any attack that tries to lock your files, whether you’re online or offline. It can also restore locked files, saving you from paying the ransom fee to the hackers.
The second feature in the Mobility & Data tab is Identity Protection. This tool monitors your credit card activity and scans your credit bureau file for suspicious activity. This option, available only in the US, is an excellent addition to the already-strong security ZoneAlarm provides. Credit card theft is widespread in America, and this simple tool could save you a lot of pain and money. During our review of ZoneAlarm Extreme Security, Identity Protection notified us immediately by email of a couple of suspicious transactions, allowing us to contact the bank and verify that they were authorized.
One of ZoneAlarm’s most advanced features - rarely found among the competition - is its Threat Emulation tool. This protocol inspects MS Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and Adobe PDF files by sending them to a safe virtual sandbox where they’re opened and examined for suspicious code or behavior.
The sandbox lets ZoneAlarm analyze downloaded documents while protecting your PC. During our ZoneAlarm extreme review, the Threat Emulation tool immediately notified us when files turned out to be malicious, so we could dispose of them.
By default, the Threat Emulation tool monitors the desktop and the downloads folder, but you can freely add additional folders to its list.
Threat Emulation is a strong layer of defense against zero-day attacks - new threats that have yet to be documented and included in malware databases. When ZoneAlarm detects a new kind of malware, it adds the threat to its pool of security threats.
In our ZoneAlarm review, we also tried out one of the suite’s newest features: Mobile Security. This app is a package of security measures aimed at protecting your mobile device from the most common outside threats.
The Mobile Security app is available for both Android and iOS. The app protects your phone in multiple ways. First, it provides a secure connection to public Wi-Fi networks, protecting you from fakes that could steal your credentials. Secondly, it prevents unauthorized access to your camera and microphone - one of the most frequent ways hackers and privacy-intruding agencies attempt to hijack your phone. Lastly, it alerts you if you happen to download any malicious apps.
As any ZoneAlarm free firewall review can tell you, this feature is available only with an upgrade to ZoneAlarm Extreme Security.
We’ve already touched on ZoneAlarm’s unstylish, dated user interface. Currently, there’s a beta version of ZoneAlarm’s Next Generation Antivirus, but its primary offering is still in its old, unsightly version. However, the software is incredibly easy to learn and use.
The installation process is quite simple: Just download the installation program and run it on your PC. It will download additional files, and you’ll have to restart your PC to complete the installation. As you can see from the screenshots we’ve included with this review, ZoneAlarm’s options are clearly labeled. Short explanations under each tool name explain its functions.
ZoneAlarm products come in several packages. You can download the antivirus program and the firewall separately at no cost. The paid versions are Pro Firewall, Pro Antivirus, Anti-Ransomware, and Extreme Security, the last of which combines all the others.
ZoneAlarm’s support staff can be contacted across multiple channels. Live chat is available throughout the week. During our ZoneAlarm Pro review, the members of the live chat staff we spoke to were knowledgeable professionals, not uninformed third-party support agents. In addition to chat, you can contact support via email, though you must create a support account first.
Before contacting the support team, you can also consult the knowledge base on the website and speak with other users on the company’s community forums.
ZoneAlarm offers both free packages and paid plans that implement advanced security features. You can download basic versions of ZoneAlarm Antivirus and ZoneAlarm Firewall at no charge and use them indefinitely.
In our ZoneAlarm free antivirus review, we were pleasantly surprised at the features included in the free packages. They include full virus and anti-spyware protection, the two-way firewall, identity protection, and access to Game Mode - a tool designed to reduce the CPU strain of running ZoneAlarm while you’re gaming.
A ZoneAlarm Pro Antivirus + Firewall one-year license for five PCs currently costs $35.95/year. Included with it are the Web Monitor service, Anti-Phishing, Threat Extraction, Real-Time Cloud Security, and 24/7 online support.
The most valuable addition here is the Threat Extraction feature, which protects you against zero-day attacks, and cloud security, which monitors online databases for new viruses. While our ZoneAlarm free review has revealed that the free package is very powerful, these advanced security features - and the ability to use the software on five different computers - make the Pro package worth the money.
ZoneAlarm Extreme Security is the priciest suite. It includes all the features of ZoneAlarm Pro, plus some new security measures: Anti-ransomware, mobile security, keylogger protection, and Threat Emulation. The one-year license costs $44.95/year and covers five devices, which can be a mix of PCs and mobile devices.
As you will have read already in our ZoneAlarm security suite review, the combination of these security measures practically guarantees your PC will be safe from all sorts of cyberattacks, both offline and online. With the current 35% discount, it’s definitely worth at least considering this package. Given that the difference between Pro and Extreme Security is only about $10, there’s no reason not to buy the whole package.
How Does Zone Alarm Compare to Other Anti-Malware Software Solutions?
- Top-class antivirus engine
- Optional firewall
- Kill Controls prevent data leaks
- Threat Emulation virtual sandbox
- Robust mobile app
- Robust antivirus engine
- Webcam protection
- Password manager
- Performance optimization
- Comes with VPN
- PC maintenance
- Great performance
- Advanced ransomware protection
- 200 MB/day VPN
- Zero-day attack protection
What are our thoughts after our review of ZoneAlarm’s free and paid plans?
ZoneAlarm is like an old suit of plate armor. It will protect you from virtually any attack, but it needs a good polish. Its proprietary firewall and Threat Emulation technology make it one of the best available antiviruses, so the outdated visuals shouldn’t keep you away. After you’ve set up the software, you’ll see it only when you’re running scans anyway. It’s a small price to pay for such invaluable PC protection and the peace of mind that comes with it.
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Frequently Asked Questions
As we’ve shown in our ZoneAlarm firewall and antivirus review, Check Point’s software is one of the strongest antivirus packages available, featuring cutting-edge technology aimed at providing full-scale protection for your devices.
Thanks to its proprietary firewall technology, ZoneAlarm’s firewall is definitely stronger than the one that comes with Windows 10.
Even though Windows antivirus software has gotten better over the years, it can’t fully compete with advanced specialized antivirus software like ZoneAlarm.
Some of the best antiviruses to use in 2022 come from Kaspersky, Norton, ZoneAlarm, Bitdefender, and Avast.
As we’ve indicated in our ZoneAlarm review, the advanced security features its paid plans include are definitely worth the money. While free antiviruses are enough to protect you against most common threats, investing in a paid antivirus is one of the smartest choices you can make.
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