ZoneAlarm ForceField strengthens Firefox security

ForceField logoCheck Point recently released a beta version of ForceField, a security utility that provides additional layers of protection to Firefox and Internet Explorer. ForceField comes under the strong ZoneAlarm brand, famous for its popular ZoneAlarm firewall product.

To enable ForceField protection it must be launched before starting Firefox. ForceField detects you want to launch Firefox and starts a compact virtual machine where Firefox runs in, effectively isolating it from the rest of your computer resources. From then on, ForceField acts as a proxy between the Internet and Firefox adding its layers of protection in between. ForceField remains as an icon in the system tray and you will know when Firefox is running within ForceField through a cool white halo displayed around the Firefox window.

ForceField

On first run, you will notice it adds a toolbar with three buttons labeled Protection Activity, Site Status and Private Browser. The first one, checks the current status (active or inactive) and displays a small report stating with the number of threats detected and downloads scanned. ForceField takes over downloads replacing the save confirmation dialog with a custom one and checks downloaded files for known spyware.

ForceField download

The Site Status button tells if a current site is recognized as a phishing or malware distributor or not. And the third one launches another instance of Firefox in private browsing mode that automatically deletes all cookies, history, cache, saved forms and passwords once you close Firefox, clearing your traces after a session.

ForceField private mode

While they are all welcomed features, the bad habit of making everything a toolbar strikes here again. They could easily be just simple buttons or status bar icons added by default. As a beta there’s chance this will be corrected by the final release.

Since Firefox 3 will include malware protection based on lists provided by Google and possibly, StopBadware.org, it will somewhat overlap with ForceField functionality but the private browsing feature (originally scheduled for Firefox 3 but uncertain at this point), the virtual machine technique and checking download for spyware, add more layers of protection. At a cost.

When I start Firefox alone with no ForceField protection in a clean profile it uses about 25MB. I enabled ForceField and repeat the operation finding a total of 50MB for the Firefox image inside ForceField plus an additional 50MB overhead. Again, it is still in beta but it seems you”ll have to balance your concerns for enhanced security and privacy and memory resources, anyways.

ForceField is a 5 MB download available for Windows XP SP2 and Windows Vista. Get it from ZoneAlarm ForceField web site.

8 Comments

  1. The Guru September 26, 2007 1:32 pm 

    So those of us who are stuck with XP SP1 are out of luck here.

  2. Percy Cabello September 26, 2007 3:14 pm 

    Yeap. I read in your blog that you are stuck with SP1, why? Some particular hardware or something? I haven’t seen an SP1 system in a long while now. I may help finding a solution.

  3. Peter de Bruin April 30, 2008 5:54 pm 

    The large toolbar is easily replaced by two small buttons on the status bar, by selecting the ‘Switch to short toolbar’ menu item.

  4. Tom June 1, 2008 12:21 pm 

    ForceFiel is a nice idea, but unfortunately is nothing else but garbage, I am not talking about ForceField Beta, I am talking about the “Ready” version which is for sale for about 3o box. It does Not attach properly to Firefox 2, It does not play ball with many useful FireFox add ons such as NoScript and Key Scrambler and many others including spell Checkers, Dictionaries, Customize Google, and so on. NoScript gets kick off by ForceField toolbar, and don’t think about reinstalling NoScript if the ForceField Tool Bar is still installed because it will mess up and freeze Firefox. I don’t think the folks at ZoneAlarm are taking enough coffee while developing ForceField. ForceField seems to work only with Microsoft Internet Explorer, but it will be a lot better to concentrate their developing issues around Firefox and the hundreds of available add ons available for Firefox. My recommendations to everyone using FireFox with addons is to do not install ForceField (and buy it) Until it’s toolbar is available at the Mozilla Addon Center – which means it passed the Mozilla Addon test and it plays ball with most addons available for FireFox, until then stay away from ForceField and its incompatible toolbar for FireFox. Of course, ZoneAlarm has a “solution” available at their forum – Which some how instruct you to uninstall FireFox, install the ForceField Application (which is supposed to install the the toolbar flawlessly) and then reinstall every add on – But surprisingly, things still don’t work – Anyway – who the hell wants to follow this 4 hours procedure, a software developers job is test, and test to death, before selling a piece of software, we the buyers only want to install and use it, Period.

  5. HP to launch Virtual Firefox - Mozilla Links September 9, 2008 10:00 am 

    [...] a year ago, ZoneLabs (now a Cisco property) released ForceField which used the same approach to a safer browsing but had serious performance issues in the beta I [...]

  6. HP to launch Virtual Firefox - Mozilla Links September 9, 2008 10:00 am 

    [...] a year ago, ZoneLabs (now a Cisco property) released ForceField which used the same approach to a safer browsing but had serious performance issues in the beta I [...]

  7. Netlife August 18, 2009 9:37 pm 

    Zone Alarms Force Field is blocking my CustomizeGoogle ext.

  8. Glen January 20, 2010 11:22 am 

    Does not seem to work with Firefox 3.6 RC2.

    1) no white halo
    2) Force Field does not appear in the toolbar.
    3) Zonealarm toolbar appears instead
    4) there are only two buttons mot 3 as mentioned

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