Check Point launches free updated ZoneAlarm firewall

Paul Comessotti

Check Point Canada GM Paul Comessotti

Security vendor Check Point Software has launched its latest consumer antivirus and firewall product as a comprehensive offering for free, but not a threat to its channel partners who resell its suite products.

The company launched its ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus + Firewall 2013 product in Canada this week, available to individual consumers (including home office users) and non-profits. Check Point has offered a free antivirus for several years, but this is its first “mini security suite” product.

Commercial users typically can’t use free downloads because of legislative or other requirements. The free ZoneAlarm product isn’t meant to compete with paid suites that partners resell to the enterprise market, but instead enhance ZoneAlarm’s brand and improve the overall quality of its products, said Paul Comessotti, Check Point’s regional director for Canada.

“We have a very significant divide between our consumer and our commercial business,” he said.

The product’s firewall and antivirus features are meant to integrate seamlessly, allowing for better protection and fewer updates for users, according to Check Point. It features a two-way firewall to protect against inbound and outbound threat, using ZoneAlarm DefenseNet, a cloud-based service that verifies the safety of a program by analyzing data from more than 60 million users.

Commercial customers will become aware of new threats discovered through the consumer product, since they are added to the cloud that they access. Threats found on popular Web sites that users often surf at home. For example, would be sent to the same cloud, making the threat known for enterprise users as well, Comessotti said.

“This enhances what our partners are delivering to our commercial customers because 80 million (free antivirus) installs worldwide are picking up things all over the place long before often they get to Canada,” Comessotti explained.

The ZoneAlarm product also features daily antivirus scanning for malware and includes OSFirewall, which monitors PC behaviour to find sophisticated attacks that may have bypassed traditional antivirus protection. It also allows for up to 5GB of online backup, download protection and identity theft protection.

The updated software also has a new, simpler user interface for consumers to monitor what is being protected.

Businesses could recommend the free download to their employees to use at home as well, since workers’ home PCs are often targeted for social engineering attacks if their link to a particular company is known, Comessotti added. With more bring your own device (BYOD) policies (or employees doing it anyway), added security on home devices is also a plus.

Strengthening ZoneAlarm’s brand among consumers and businesses was one of the goals of the free product, said Mark Brier, head of Check Point’s “freemium” products for its Zone brand. Word of mouth among its install base will lead to stronger recognition in the consumer and enterprise space. “We’re able to utilize that audience of users to first download the product and then promote it out to their friends,” he said.

ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus + Firewall 2013 is available for download from the company’s Web site.

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