Check Point has enhanced its ZoneAlarm firewall with a feature that analyses malware reported by its community.

The service named DefenseNet, analyses malware automatically as reported by the community of ZoneAlarm users, and once the safety or non-safety of a given program is determined, the information is then shared through the cloud, immediately blocking attacks and, according to Check Point, virtually eliminating the need for program alerts and interruptions.

The company said that the free firewall includes both an inbound and outbound firewall, with the inbound firewall preventing hackers from entering a PC and outbound protection automatically blocking data from being transmitted back out to the hacker.

In addition, the new ZoneAlarm free firewall uses both signatures and heuristics to block dangerous websites, and also includes an identity check-up with ‘identity guard' that allows customers to see if their identity and personal information has been exposed. This can then protect that personal information with ongoing monitoring and alerts.

Bari Abdul, vice president of consumer sales at Check Point, said: “Most people have some form of anti-virus protection. Though it's necessary, anti-virus is not enough. Consumers who do not have a powerful firewall are operating with an ‘open door' policy, enabling hackers to access bank account information, passwords and credit card numbers.  Anyone with internet access needs both anti-virus and a strong firewall for basic personal computer security.

“Current ZoneAlarm DefenseNet users automatically retrieve threat data from our cloud servers for instantaneous protection. This delivers a safer online experience that is quiet and automatic for any level user, and starting today, it is available in our free firewall.”