Checkpoint ZoneAlarm Extreme Security 2012 review
This suite from ZoneAlarm comes with a predictably powerful firewall and Kaspersky-powered anti-malware, but its high price and imperfect performance reduce its appeal
Review Date: 11 Dec 2011
Price when reviewed: £36
Reviewed By: Kat Orphanides
To understand how we go about the UK's most accurate and realistic anti-virus testing, read How We Test: Anti-virus software.
This is the first time we've reviewed Checkpoint's ZoneAlarm anti-malware software, and we're pleased to finally put ZoneAlarm Extreme Security through its paces. ZoneAlarm uses a combination of Kaspersky's anti-virus engine and its own library of threat defence signatures, as well as the abilities of its famous firewall to alert users to potentially unwanted connection attempts.
Extreme Security's 93 per cent protection rating means that it just let two of our sample viruses through its defences. Sadly, it proved to be rather twitchy when it came to our false positive tests. ZoneAlarm, which by default replaces your browser's usual download interface, automatically scans the contents of any downloaded file that it doesn't immediately recognise as benign.
Most of our harmless false positive test software was either not scanned at all or was correctly passed through as non-malicious. However, 40 per cent of files (eight applications) triggered a warning or notification of some sort. Nothing was blocked by default, but the high incidence of suspicious behaviour warnings for non-malicious programs could unnerve more wary users. ZoneAlarm also crashed occasionally, particularly when detecting and removing malicious software, although this was never to the detriment of its ability to defend our PC.
ZoneAlarm has plenty of extra features, including 2GB of online backup space, a web security tool to alert you of dangerous and fraudulent websites, malicious email and spam prevention, and a jammer to flummox malicious key loggers and screen grabbers. The interface by which you control and access all of these isn't particularly polished, but everything's clearly labelled. There are a lot of advanced controls, particularly for the firewall, but you're under no obligation to go delving under the bonnet unless you need precise control over the way in which your PC communicates with both the internet and the rest of your network.
ZoneAlarm Extreme Security provides competent defence, but it's also among the most expensive security suites we've looked at. This is largely because, unlike many of its rivals, it's not widely available in boxed versions at online and high street retailers. As such, £36 gets you a one-year licence for three PCs - a one-PC licence isn't available. BitDefender Internet Security 2012 costs just £16 per year for a three-PC licence, as well as being more accurate and less intrusive.
For straightforward advice on getting the best anti-malware deal, and keeping your software up-to-date year-on-year, then read Avoiding the anti-malware trap now.
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