Check 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.
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.
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.
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.