11:23 AM

Review: ZoneAlarm Desktop Security Suite

ZoneAlarm Security Suite 6.0 provides great anti-spyware, firewall, and other security all in a single package.

Since shortly after the dawn of recorded personal computer history, my mantra about desktop security has been to mix and match best-of breed products – at first antivirus and firewall, then antispam, antispyware and, well, the list goes on these days. But since the release of ZoneAlarm Security Suite 6.0, I’m now dancing to a different drummer.

The strikes against a do-everything desktop security product have been inconsistent interfaces among cobbled-together components and a substantial slowdown in computer responsiveness. Recent products have addressed these concerns, but the latest ZoneAlarm suite has made me enough of a true believer that I’m entrusting my primary productivity computer to it. What impresses me most are ZoneAlarm’s default settings, which don’t much get in the way as it learns my personal preferences, and the ease at which I can make advanced setting changes while minimizing the deluge of pop-up warnings of competitors.

Most antivirus tools work well these days, but antispyware products have remained works in progress. They tend to identify spyware already on your computer, which is too late. The malware already has does its dirty work. ZoneAlarm is better at identifying spyware than any product I’ve tested, though it lags behind in fully removing such malware. Overall, though, I prefer ZoneAlarm’s antispyware component to current alternatives.

Meanwhile, the product’s firewall, already one of the best, leaps beyond its ancestors. It successfully avoided attempts to disable it in ways that other firewalls fail to protect against, such McAfee apps that I’ve used for years. The most impressive enhancement to Zone Labs’ latest version is what it calls a triple-defense firewall. Beyond protecting against intrusions and keeping apps on your system, including unknown malware, from unauthorized “send-home” attempts, malware now is stopped in “leak-test” attempts, a type of attack that sneaks around most competitors.

That’s delightful when focusing on productivity, which is the bottom line. ZoneAlarm is intelligent enough to do the right thing by itself most of the time. ZoneAlarm continues to provide parental, ID, and IM control, though that protection hasn’t changed much in the latest version.

If, like me, you’ve been banging your head against your monitor to endlessly update multiple security products and spend too much time making your security apps play well together on their playground (or avoided the hassle with your head in the sand) , ZoneAlarm Security Suite 6.0 finally is a solution that gets the job done.

ZoneAlarm Security Suite 6.0
Zone Labs, LLC
Price: $69.95
Summary:ZoneAlarm at last provides desktop users with a compelling best-of- breed, one-stop security solution for desktops.users.

J.W. Olsen has been a full-time IT author, columnist, editor, and freelance book project manager with more than 1000 editorial credits since 1990, and has provided computer, Web site, and editorial services to other clients since 1985. He welcomes feedback via the response form at

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