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Zone Alarm Pro

A little background on Zone Alarm

By RobbieD

Let me start by saying that I am not a security guru in any way.  Quite a few months ago I was advised that I should be running a firewall to protect myself from would be hackers out on the net.  I tried using a few of the usual suspects out there like At Guard and Conseal PC Firewall.   I had no clue as to what I was doing and, quite honestly, didn't have the spare time to figure it all out.  I then heard about Blackice Defender and it's ease of use and configuration. Quite a few of us were using it, but I was then informed by a good friend that problems had arisen while he was testing it, he had found that Blackice had a tendency to lay down and play dead, leaving you with no security at all, and with no warning whatsoever. For this reason I stopped using it.

Next on the list was ZoneAlarm.  Not only had I heard about it at a few of the usual forums, but one of my favourite TV shows was mentioning it.  ( ZDTV - The Screen Savers).  So I gave it a try.  I went to Zonelabs web site downloaded the free version and installed it onto my system.  Everytime I used a program that needed access to the internet, a popup window asked if I wanted to allow that certain program to have access to the internet.  I then had the option to tell it yes or no and if I wanted ZoneAlarm to remember this setting.  Now, all the usual programs.....i.e. - IE, FTP client, ICQ, Download Accelerator...... all had permission to access  the net.   When I ventured on to the internet I kept getting popup windows that to informed me that ZoneAlarm had blocked access to my computer from an IP address.  This made me very nervous, as I had no idea that so many different entities were always trying to gain access to my computer.  It turns out that most of this traffic is very normal and not to be worried about, especially now that ZA is  blocking all of it. 

A hacker will test IP addresses with so called "bots"  These bots will automatically test each IP address in numerical order and if they get a response from a computer then the hacker will investigate this computer more closely.  One of the best features of ZA, is that when a request to access a computer comes along, ZoneAlarm doesn't respond to it (if in High Security mode) but just ignores it, therefore the hacker doesn't even realise you are there.  I went to www.grc.com to test this fact and sure enough my computer was reported to be in Stealth mode

After a couple of months of satisfied use, I was now in a position to set up a network at home.  After weeks of trial and error, I had a home network up and running.  The next step was to set up Internet Connection Sharing (ICS) so that my kid could access the net from his room through the modem in my computer.  This is where Zone Alarm fell a little short.  ZA has 3 security settings, High, Medium and Low.  On High, my computer was not seen by others on the net.  But now I found that I had to set the Security level down to Medium to get the ICS to work.  I didn't like this, but I had to have ICS enabled.  So I lived with ZA at Medium security.  In this mode, ZA allows my computer to respond to those requests that come in from the net.  Therefore I was no longer invisible out on the net.  I went to www.grc.com   to test this and as suspected I was no longer in Stealth mode  I lived with this for a couple of months, but now, there is ZoneAlarm Pro.  I have just bought it today from ZonelAbs and it allows me to remain in stealth (High Security) mode while Internet Connection Sharing is up and running.  Check our News item concerning a special offer for ZoneAlarm pro

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