ZoneAlarm’s Internet Security Suite has maintained a continuous presence on our A List, through various versions, since October 2005. We reviewed the most recent version in April (web ID: 104934), and were impressed by the speed and usability of its antivirus module, which in both the full suite and this standalone incarnation is based on the Kaspersky Antivirus engine.
In this month’s nitty-gritty test, however, we saw ZoneAlarm fall behind its progenitor’s performance, achieving an 81% overall detection rate compared to Kaspersky’s stellar 98%. Low points were ZoneAlarm’s failure to spot the Hidrag virus – which was caught by every other package except Panda – and its somehow missing two backdoors, a password stealer and a variant of the VB worm, which were spotted by nine other packages. ZoneAlarm was also one of only three packages this month that by default didn’t scan emails as they arrived (the others being Microsoft’s OneCare and Avira’s free AntiVir), only scanning attachments when we saved them to disk. This meant it didn’t interfere with the speed of mail delivery, nor add to system load, but it did mean infected email might be forwarded on to an unsuspecting third party.
Still, no package is perfect, and ZoneAlarm benefits from a clear, responsive user interface that made little demand on system resources. Moreover, it comes bundled with the venerable ZoneAlarm Firewall, making it a good-value package overall. However, there still isn’t even a beta version available for Vista, so it’s currently only an option if you’re sticking with XP.