Number 3 on “My Top 10 Most Useful Free Programs” is Zone Alarm personal Firewall available from

From the Zone Alarm website

ZoneAlarm Free Firewall blocks hackers from infiltrating your home PC by hiding your computer from unsolicited network traffic. By detecting and preventing intrusions, ZoneAlarm Free Firewall keeps your PC free from viruses that slow down performance, and spyware that steals your personal information, passwords, and financial data.

* • Essential firewall protection
* • Be invisible to others online
* • New interface makes it even easier—smaller size keeps it light

Anyone that browses the internet should know how insecure it really is. If your pc is connected to the internet chances are very good that someone has atleast attempted to fine out what network ports are open on your pc. Public places such as schools, libraries, airports, and coffee shops are known to be insecure when it comes to the internet. Here is an example… I teach night school at a Technical School. One night I brought my personal laptop into the school to demo some software to my class. Within 5 minutes my Zone Alarm had notified me that it has blocked over a dozen attempts to connect to my pc. Now I have no idea if it was a student in classroom down the hall or an automated script running somewhere that is looking for open ports but either way I was protected from the attack.

For those of you that dont think you need a firewall please read this article.

Zone Alarm comes in several versions. I prefer the free (Firewall Only) version as I have other programs that perform the same tasks as the programs that come with the paid zone alarm version.

The program installs much like any other windows based program and once completed will require a reboot to activate the services that would normally start when the pc starts.

Once it comes up the first time it will auto detect the most common programs and set up some default rules for general internet traffic like web and email.
For many people that is all you will need to do. For others, it has the ability to customize rules for different networks right down to the application permission to connect to the internet.

One other good feature about Zone Alarm is that it will popup an alert and ask for user input if it detects something that it does not have a rule for. You will then be able to allow or deny the connection for this time only or have it remember so you will not be asked again for the same item.

If your on the internet you need a firewall and there are many firewalls out there that I have tried but to me Zone Alarm is the most complete, not too difficult, free firewall for the home user. I have recommended it to many of my business clients.

Give it a try and let me know what you think.