Posted 07 May 2006 - 06:34 PM
I gotta tell you, Alpha Shield looks like a gimmick. I hope you didn't pay too much for it. Unless I'm missing something, you get the same protection from the common router, without all the hype. If it lets you out onto the internet, it will not protect against anything that you let in through mistake or even without your knowledge. Any common downloader trojan will doom your computer, since the gadget cannot differentiate between good programs on your computer trying to access the internet or bad ones trying to access the internet.
I've used Zone Alarm for years without problems. Yes, I know that it's difficult to figure out which programs to let through, but mostly it's automatically set up as long as you answer the questions correctly when you install and recognize the programs that are trying to contact the internet. (For instance, should you try to update Spyware Blaster, it will ask you if it's OK - that's not rocket science.) If you aren't sure, you can deny the access and see what the results are, and check the internet for the program in question with Google.
Sygate is no longer free (maybe because they've been acquired by the Norton people?), but earlier versions of the program can be found.