An effective firewall that will complement sensible antivirus software for all-round PC protection. However, some sensible extensions to its abilities have been overlooked, reducing its overall rating.
Formerly known as BlackIce Defender, BlackIce PC Protection 3.5 has a new name and some new features. The most notable of these is the ability to monitor both incoming and outgoing communications.
It's capable of detecting and blocking attacks/intrusions on a PC, and the new Application Protection prevents unrecognised applications from launching, whether delivered through a web browser, instant message or email.
Interested solely in TCP/IP communication it is well suited to home use, monitoring dialup, DSL and cable connections for suspicious activity and dealing with them as per your instructions.
Four security levels cater well for individual requirements, ranging from Trusting to Paranoid. Trusting allows all inbound traffic, whilst Paranoid blocks all unsolicited incoming traffic, with the other two levels sitting in between.
Defence against suspicious attacks is all done in the background, with system tray (or sound) activity alerts. Attacker information, including the IP address, can be viewed in the Events log.
It is here that rules can be defined for persistent good or bad communications. Users can choose to ignore the event and block or trust the attacker. Blocking is for an hour, a week, a month or forever.
When BlackIce is installed it will scan your hard drive(s) and authorise every application it finds, ensuring that any future unknowns will be spotted. Unknowns will include any intentional software installations, which can be a little annoying, but they can be authorised with a single mouse click.
Due to the initial scan it is imperative that a PC is virus free for BlackIce to be effective, so ensure that antivirus software is installed and the PC is scanned prior to installation.
Any subsequent unknown applications will be will prevented from starting, but nothing is done to remove them from your PC. Again, a virus program is required here.
The cluttered Settings interface is disappointing, but a concise Quick Start Guide goes some way to alleviating this.
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