At the TechEd conference, Microsoft is banging the drum very loudly about its new-found security chops, touting the upcoming release of SP-2 as prime evidence of how closely it’ll pay attention to security from now on.
It’s true that SP-2 is a big step forward. The new pop-up blocker is a very well-designed piece of code. There are a variety of new security features under the hood. And the newly renamed Windows Firewall is now a usable, functional piece of software, while previously it was well-nigh worthless.
But ironically, at the same time that Microsoft was crowing about the security built into SP-2, Zone Labs was releasing a new version of its ZoneAlarm firewall and security suite that is far superior to what’s in SP-2. I’ve been using the beta for a while, and also using the beta of SP-2, and the ZoneAlarm firewall beats the new Windows Firewall hands-down. It blocks more dangers, it’s easier to use, it offers advice about which programs you should block and which you shouldn’t (the Windows Firewall offers no advice), and is far more configurable.
In addition, there are features that keeps people from eavesdropping on your instant messaging conversations, and that will block instant messaging attacks and instant messaging spam. SP-2 does none of this.
So yes, it’s nice to see that Microsoft is paying more attention to security. I hope they keep it up. But even after SP-2 comes out, if you want a great firewall, you’ll have to look to ZoneAlarm, not to the Windows Firewall.
Is SP-2 secure enough for you? How about the Windows Firewall? And what do you think of ZoneAlarm? Let me know.