FAQ - ZoneAlarm® ForceField
     

Frequently Asked Questions:

About ZoneAlarm®ForceField versus other Security Products
  1. How does ForceField protect me when I surf the Web?
  2. What are ForceField's Active Safety Features?
  3. Can I run ForceField along with antivirus, anti-spyware, firewall, or similar security products?

About ForceField Features
  1. Does ForceField protect me by default, or do I have to do something extra for full protection?
  2. What does the Private Browser do?
  3. Will ForceField slow down or interrupt my Web browsing?
  4. How smart do I need to be to set up and use ForceField?

About ForceField's Core Virtualization technology used in Virtual Browsing
  1. What is virtualization?
  2. Does virtualization create two separate "computers" that I have to maintain?
  3. Does virtualization change how I download files?
  4. Will I lose file downloads or Web cookies and passwords when I clean out the virtual system?

ForceField Purchasing and Requirements
  1. Does ForceField work on a Mac?
  2. What are the system requirements and what browsers does it work with?
  3. How much does ForceField cost?
  4. Is there an annual fee?
  5. How many computers can I use a single copy of ForceField on?
  6. Where can I purchase ForceField?
  7. Can I try ForceField before I buy it?

About the Threats that ForceField Stops
  1. Is Web surfing really dangerous?
  2. What is a drive-by download?
  3. What are some real-world examples of Web Browsing threats?

How does ForceField protect me when I surf the Web?

There are two main layers of protection in ForceField: Virtualization (explained here) and Active Security Layers (explained in a separate FAQ)

Virtualization Security: Extremely powerful, yet so simple

Each time you surf the Web, a number of changes—most of them innocuous—are made to your computer system. For instance, when you become a registered user of a Web site, the site creates a cookie on your computer to remember you the next time you visit.

But not all changes made to your computer when you surf are safe. Hackers have found ways to transfer spyware to your computer automatically the moment you visit a Web site, without you even knowing about it. This is called a "drive-by download."

ZoneAlarm ForceField uses virtualization to prevent drive-by downloads. Quite simply, ForceField knows whether it's you or a hacker who is making a change to your computer while you surf.

  • If you cause the change, ForceField steps aside. The change will be made permanently to your PC like always.
  • But if a hacker causes a change, the change never hits your computer! Instead, the change is made to a "virtual computer" and then destroyed.

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What are ForceField's Active Safety Features?

Active safety features offer redundant or altogether new layers of protection from what ForceField's virtualization provides.

Keylogger & Screengrabber Jamming
Keep your keystrokes and click trails private. ZoneAlarm ForceField discovers and blocks silent spyware from stealing your identity.

Dangerous Download Detection
Detects dangerous downloads and alerts you to problems before they begin. You can download files safely, and free from worry that they might harm your computer.

Anti-phishing
Click where you want, your personal information remains secure. A dual-engine anti-phishing engine identifies and stops fraudulent websites that trick you into revealing personal data.

Spyware Blocking
Prevent spyware from infiltrating your PC by detecting and blocking websites known to distribute spyware.

Website Safety Check
Behind the scenes, checks the credentials on every website you visit, so you know if the website is a safe place to enter data and download files.

Spyware Scanner
Performs a complete, effective, fast search for spyware lurking in your computer's memory as you browse the Internet.

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Can I run ForceField along with antivirus, anti-spyware, firewall, or similar security products?

Yes. As a new security layer, ZoneAlarm ForceField is designed to supplement the ZoneAlarm firewall line of products (ZoneAlarm; ZoneAlarm Pro; Zonealarm PRO Antivirus + Firewall; ZoneAlarm Anti-Spyware; ZoneAlarm Internet Security Suite) as well as other vendor's security products.

By adding a new security layer, ZoneAlarm ForceField software provides the strongest protection yet from phishing sites, spyware sites, keyloggers, malicious drive-by downloads, unauthorized registry changes, adware, spy cookies, clutter, and more.

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Does ForceField protect me by default, or do I have to do something extra for full protection?

ForceField's default settings turn on all possible ForceField protection. As long as you see the ForceField toolbar in your browser, you are protected.

It is *not* necessary to activate the Private Browsing session for extra protection. Private browsing is purely about tracks you leave behind on your own computer, as explained in another FAQ.

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What does the Private Browser do?

The Private Browser keeps all traces of where you surf off of your computer.

Simply click "Private Browser" and a new browser window will launch. The browser window will be clearly labeled "Private Browser." From this point forward, all traces of where you surf will be erased including Web page cache, cookies, history and passwords. When you're done surfing, close the Private Browser window. Now the next person who uses the computer will never see where you surfed.

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Will ForceField slow down or interrupt my Web browsing?

Even though ForceField is actively evaluating every Web site you visit and making a decision about every bit of data that transfers from the Internet to your PC, it is designed to be efficient and quiet.

And it never needlessly interrupts your Web browsing. The only time ForceField will ever interrupt your Web browsing is when you have gone to a dangerous Web site where data loss of computer damage is nearly certain.

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How smart do I need to be to set up and use ForceField?

Okay, that's a bit of a joke question. The serious answer is that ForceField literally requires zero setup. And using it is fully automatic. No matter how much or how little you know about computers and security, we promise you'll have no trouble using ForceField.

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What is Virtualization?

As you surf, there are certain parts of your computer that the Internet writes and saves files to. Some of this writing and saving is safe, and some is dangerous.

To protect your computer, ZoneAlarm ForceField makes a temporary copy of all of the parts of your computer that the Internet writes and saves to. Put simply, this temporary copy is called virtualization.

As you surf, safe writing and saving is applied to your real computer as always. But dangerous writing and saving is made to the virtual system. In this way, the dangerous stuff never gets saved or written to your actual computer.

And for extra protection, the virtualization works in two directions. It protects the PC from threats on the Internet as described above, but it also protects the Web session (such as banking, shopping and other vulnerable activity) from threats that may lurk on the PC.

All of this happens automatically.

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Does Virtualisation create two separate "computers" that I have to maintain?

No. ZoneAlarm ForceField is the world's first automatic, intelligent virtualization that knows the difference between the changes you make to your computer while you surf and the changes a hacker makes to your computer while you surf.

Virtualization is only used to capture a hacker's changes so that they never hit your computer. Your changes, on the other hand, go directly to the real computer as always.

The virtualization layer is automatically purged each time you complete a Web session (each time you close all open browsers); thus the virtualization is 100% automatic and maintenance-free.

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Does virtualization change how I download files?

No. Virtualization is only used to capture a hacker's changes so that they never hit your computer. Your changes, on the other hand, go directly to the real computer as always.

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Will I lose file downloads or Web cookies and passwords when I clean out the virtual system?

No. Virtualization is only used to capture a hacker's changes so that they never hit your computer. Your changes, on the other hand, go directly to the real computer as always.

So, whether you download a file, save a password at a Web site, or register at a Web site where a cookie is saved, all changes are saved just like they were before you installed ForceField. Even your Web site history and browser cache are saved, unless you are using ForceField's special Private Browser mode.

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Does ForceField work on a Mac?

No. Currently there are no plans for a Mac version of ForceField.

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What are the system requirements and what browsers does it work with?

See System Requirements.

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How much does ForceField cost?

For the current ZoneAlarm ForceField price please click here.

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Is there an annual fee?

Yes. Although you own ForceField for life once you buy it, many parts of ForceField such as Spy site blocking and anti-phishing require ongoing updates to work.

For the current annual license fee please click here.

Note that unlike many other security products, the annual fee entitles you to all new versions, even major, of ForceField, along with technical support.

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How many computers can I use a single copy of ForceField on?

One copy. However, there are special multiple computer bundles that save money over buying three separate one-computer versions. Click here for more details

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Where can I purchase ForceField?

Online at www.zonealarm.com or by clicking here, and through major retail outlets such as Best Buy, Office Depot, Circuit City and more.

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Can I try ForceField before I buy it?

Yes, a ForceField trial version is available with zero commitment at store.zonealarm.com or clicking here.

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Is Web surfing really dangerous?

The motivation for today's hacking is primarily financial and can be most easily done through the Internet.

Through increased use of Web-based attacks such as drive-by downloads, PHP and AJAX exploits, threats have taken on all of the worst characteristics of the recent past: They are financially motivated, extremely damaging, and relatively silent and unnoticeable. And because hackers are attacking consumers as they bank, shop and surf online, the threats are viral and widely distributed.

In summary, today's threat environment has these characteristics:

a) Threats are even less noticeable than before because they are not only designed to be silent, but they may not cause the loss of PC performance or instability that made consumers aware of the threats on their PC.

b) PC-based threats are still targeted and sent in small batches to avoid detection. But Web-based threats are often massively deployed and viral, like the first wave of virus-based hacking.

c) Consequences are just as serious and include personal data loss/identity theft as well as the silent takeover of individual PCs to create botnets.

d) Some consumers are complacent about threats on this new Web platform; hackers have refined their social engineering and technology; and most security companies haven't yet created the new layers of security necessary to fend off these new attacks.

PC-based security remains critical but is no longer enough to combat these new Web-based threats. Protection for the Web platform is needed now, at these major points:

1) At the OS, the Internet's gateway to the PC. This is where antivirus, antis-pyware, firewalls and security suites come in.

2) At the browser, the PC's gateway to the Internet. This is where ZoneAlarm ForceField comes in.

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What is a drive-by download?

Hackers have found ways to transfer spyware to your computer automatically the moment you visit a Web site, without you even clicking a button or even knowing about it. This is called a "drive-by download."

Drive-by downloads occur through browser vulnerabilities. They are common today and are one way that users get dangerous spyware onto their computers.

ForceField's virtualization blocks drive-by downloads.

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What are some real-world examples of Web Browsing threats?

The following is a small sampling of recent incidents in which criminal hackers used the Web as a platform to distribute their wares:

> In August 2007, researchers discovered a Trojan that was being delivered most often via phishing attack. The Trojan captured the identities of hundreds of thousands of people from job sites including Monster.com.1

> In April 2007, it was discovered that anyone who Googled the term "betterbusinessbureau" saw a sponsored link to "www.bbb.org." Though that site is legitimate, a thief had purchased the sponsored link. Anyone who clicked on it was taken to a server in Russia, which captured sensitive data PC users typed on subsequent Web page forms they visited.2

> A security flaw on eBay in April 2007 enabled a scam in which consumers were unknowingly redirected to a spoofed eBay site and tricked into providing their personal information.3

> The Web sites of this year's Super Bowl hosts the Miami Dolphins and Dolphin Stadium were hacked in January 2007. The sites were used for at least a week to infect visiting PCs with a password-stealing program.4

> In early December 2006, hackers compromised the MySpace.com social networking site and infected hundreds of user profiles with a worm. The malicious code exploited a known vulnerability to replace legitimate links on user profiles with links to a phishing site, where victims were asked to submit their user name and password. What's more, the worm embedded infected video within user profiles.5

> Last year, an online banner ad on MySpace.com and other sites exploited a security flaw in unpatched versions of Windows to install adware, keystroke loggers and other malware for at least seven months. Over one million users were affected.6

> In 2006, approximately 109 million U.S. adults received phishing e-mails, up from 57 million in 2004, according to research firm Gartner. The average financial loss per victim grew from $257 in 2004 to $1,244 in 2006.7

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1 http://www.darkreading.com/document.asp?doc_id=131953
2 http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/computersecurity/2007-05-01-malware_N.htm
3 http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,130516/article.html?tk=nl_spxnws
4 http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB117313867582027623-AjAPWRuFr10VZcxzXK3qWlIAs7o_20080304.html
5 http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/hacking_20.php
6 http://blog.washingtonpost.com/securityfix/2006/07/myspace_ad_served_adware_to_mo.html
7 http://gartner.com/it/page.jsp?id=498245