Checkpoint ZoneAlarm Internet Security 2010 contains all the basic web security features - antivirus, antispam, firewall, antiphishing, and internet security features - and some useful extras such as one year of credit bureau monitoring for ID theft.

But despite a low price, Checkpoint ZoneAlarm Internet Security 2010 did a poor job in our tests for detecting brand-new malware threats.

The Checkpoint ZoneAlarm Internet Security 2010 interface has a clean look that is one of the best among the suites we looked at. It's generally easy to make configuration changes, though one thing we would have liked to have is the ability to turn off only JavaScript or ActiveX within the ForceField tool, which monitors for browser-based malware.

One feature of Checkpoint ZoneAlarm Internet Security 2010, virtualisation, emulates parts of the operating system so that an attacker using a browser might think they are successfully attacking your system, when in fact they are not and, like a sandbox, runs the code in isolation from the rest of your PC. This helps protect your PC's operating system from attack, and it's a feature we expect to become more common in the future.

Checkpoint ZoneAlarm Internet Security 2010 did a reasonable job cleaning up active infections on a PC. It detected all test samples, and disabled 80 percent of infections. This is a decent showing, but it falls behind our top performers, which disabled over 90 percent of the malware samples. Although few of the suites we tested did a great job at all removing traces of malware, ZoneAlarm's 13 percent removal rate was the lowest of the pack.

For rootkit detection and disinfection, Checkpoint ZoneAlarm Internet Security 2010 performed respectably, detecting 87 percent of inactive rootkits, all of the active rootkits, and ultimately removing 87 percent of rootkits. Norton Internet Security, our current top pick, managed to detect and remove all rootkits - stealth malware often used to hide other infections.

Checkpoint ZoneAlarm Internet Security 2010 performed worse than any other suite we tested in using behavioural scanning (that is, detecting malware based solely on how it behaves on a PC). ZoneAlarm's suite found only 13 percent of our test samples, and blocked just 7 percent; it was unable to completely remove any of the samples in this test. As this is a very good test for judging how well a suite can respond to brand-new malware threats, ZoneAlarm's showing is problematic.

Checkpoint ZoneAlarm Internet Security 2010 hopes to make up for this failing by using multiple firewalls, including one in the operating system kernel (the most essential part of the OS) that may effectively prevent rootkits and other malware from running. We didn't directly test the effect of the multiple firewalls, but you should still keep ZoneAlarm's poor behavioural scanning in mind. The suite detected 97 percent of samples using traditional signature-based malware detection, about average among the packages we tested. Our top performer detected 99.9 percent of samples.

Overall, the effect of the Checkpoint ZoneAlarm Internet Security 2010 suite on the speed of our test system was about average. Our system with ZoneAlarm's suite installed was relatively slow to boot up: 52.49 seconds, or 5.5 seconds slower than the average boot time. It was one of the better performers in our on-access scan test (which helps judge how quickly a suite will scan files for viruses when they are opened or saved), scanning 4.5GB of data in 3 minutes, 34 seconds. Our top performer completed the test in 2 minutes, 51 seconds. In our hands-on tests, we noticed no drag on the system once the suite was loaded and running.

NEXT: our expert verdict >>

Checkpoint ZoneAlarm Internet Security 2010: Specs

  • 32-bit/64-bit, 2GB RAM, 2GHz or faster processor
  • 250MB of available hard-disk space
  • Microsoft Windows Vista SP1 or SP2 Business/Home Premium/Ultimate/Microsoft Windows, XP SP2 or SP3 Home/Professional
  • 32-bit/64-bit, 2GB RAM, 2GHz or faster processor
  • 250MB of available hard-disk space
  • Microsoft Windows Vista SP1 or SP2 Business/Home Premium/Ultimate/Microsoft Windows, XP SP2 or SP3 Home/Professional

OUR VERDICT

Checkpoint ZoneAlarm Internet Security 2010's lacklustre behavioural detection performance makes it hard to recommend, despite it being relatively inexpensive. If you're a fan of ZoneAlarm's products, you should pay the extra for ZoneAlarm Extreme Security and get the added protection of an internet browser sandbox that runs all browser applications in a protected environment. This, in addition to the excellent firewall resources, makes up for the poor performance in behavioural testing. Otherwise, you'll be better served by going with a higher-ranked suite like those from Norton and Kaspersky.

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