Unlike most other security suites (whose origins tend to be in the antivirus market), CheckPoint’s ZoneAlarm started out as a firewall and expanded from there. And it shows.

ZoneAlarm Internet Security Suite has a feature-rich firewall, to which it has added the impressive Kaspersky antivirus engine for malware detection and removal.

Unfortunately, ZoneAlarm Internet Security Suite lacks the extensive scan options and the smooth interface of Kaspersky’s own software. In addition, the antivirus and antispyware interface has only bare-bones configuration options.

To be fair to ZoneAlarm Internet Security Suite, it’s still struggling with Vista compatibility. Working under Microsoft's latest OS, the ZoneAlarm antivirus scanner doesn’t scan email traffic or instant messaging communications for malware.

CheckPoint claims this is by design, but we can't see the benefit of refraining from scanning email traffic. The Vista ZoneAlarm Internet Security Suite suite also loses the parental controls available in the XP version, as well as protection for sensitive data and blocking of known spyware websites. The suite lacks a web antiphishing feature in both its XP and its Vista versions.

For the firewall, ZoneAlarm Internet Security Suite offers the most features and options of pretty much any suite available. It comes with an excellent installation wizard, and a training mode automatically bumps up to maximum protection after learning about your programs.

Even at its "maximum protect" setting, the ZoneAlarm Internet Security Suite firewall will check against a central database of known programs before bugging you to decide whether a new program can connect to the internet.

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