CheckPoint Software is giving out the professional version of Zone Alarm Firewall 2009 to celebrate the product’s 15th birthday.  Starting at 6:00 am today you can go to Checkpoint’s site and download the software, including a year subscription to updates and support, for free for the next 24 hours.

In viewing the product comparison chart, it appears the Zone Alarm Pro is a combination of several products.  First of all, its a firewall, with more advance controls not found in the free version.

Second, Checkpoint has merged a adware/spyware detection and removal module to it.

Finally, there are a couple of other features included in the Pro version.  Some, like the feature that prevents your SSN from being transmitted on the protected computer, compliments the core functions.  Other features, like the free credit monitoring service, seems like it should be a separate product.

I’m trying to figure out who would actually need this product.  In my opinion, if you are a sophisticated enough user to take advantage of the product, then you are also knowledgeable enough not to require it.  I guess there are a few scenarios where Zone Alarm Pro would come in handy.  For example, if you’re a journalist and your job requires you to explore numerous online links, some of which may be questionable, than Zone Alarm Pro will help protect your PC from getting infected.

Another scenario may be if you are in a public network, like a school or recreation center, where you need to protect the “office pc” from the general public pcs.

Well, since its free, I guess I will download it to see if I like it.  Looks like the site is very popular, because hitting the download button gives me a message that due to the overwhelming response to the offer, Checkpoint will email me within two days with the link to download the product.