Internet Security Systems – BlackICE PC Protection review

block hackers, trojans and back door entry
Photo of Internet Security Systems – BlackICE PC Protection
£34.99

Formerly known as BlackICE Defender, this package is designed to give your PC total protection against Internet-borne attacks. Unlike conventional Firewall products, however, it also has the ability to keep an eye on the applications that are installed on your hard drive, raising the alarm if any of these try to do something they’re not supposed to do.

Firewalls are essential for any PC – if you haven’t got one, get one immediately. By default your PC is open to attack from any professional hacker (or pimply teenager for that matter), who can take over your machine and use it to gain access to your personal details, or to send spam mail or to launch attacks on other machines. BlackICE PC Protection includes a Firewall as part of the core product and you can either leave this in its default mode – which worked fine for us – or configure it to handle specific events in different ways.

Once installed, you’ll soon notice the regularity with which your PC is attacked by automated software looking for a way past your defences. BlackICE PC Protection blocks these and stores each event in a log file, which you can view at your leisure. But that’s only one way in which your machine can be attacked. The other, more effective route is to persuade you to click on an e-mailed file attachment, something that many people still do despite being warned of the dangers.

BlackICE PC Protection minimises the risk from this sort of attack by keeping an eye on your applications. When first installed, it performs an audit of all the applications on your hard drive, logging them and comparing them with a database of known files. It then keeps track of these applications, warning you if any of them are changed, if any new ones appear or if any tries to access the Internet. You can then choose to allow or deny access.

This works pretty well, since few people install new applications on a regular basis and those who do are likely to be power users. In any event, you can switch off the protection system temporarily when installing new software; BlackICE PC Protection will then monitor the new application too. The software can be updated over the Internet to ensure it’s kept up to date with the latest applications and information about trojans (malicious files masquerading as, or hiding in, genuine applications).

As with any software that constantly monitors your applications, there’s a performance overhead associated with BlackICE PC Protection. But on a moderately fast PC you won’t notice it. The peace of mind it offers is worth it anyway. The software works with dial-up connections as well as TCP/IP connections over a network, plus cable modems, DSL/ISDN routers and virtually any other conventional method of accessing the Web.

Company: Internet Security Systems

Contact: 01752 895 100


Verdict
Firewall software is available free or at very low cost (search this site for 'firewall' for some examples), but the addition of an application monitoring tool is a useful one. BlackICE PC Protection is discreet and effective. It can be used by novices or professionals and it seems to offer one of the most secure levels of protection available for dial-up, network or always-on connections.