Check Point Software's
bet that upcoming security attacks are likely to focus more on the browser than on the desktop or email could pay off for investors.
On Monday, the company released a public beta of ZoneAlarm Forcefield, a new security software that aims to protect users from online threats by focusing exclusively on securing the browser.
ForceField creates a virtual bubble around an existing browser to protect users from online security threats that could have otherwise had access to their other applications or the operating system.
"It's like a shield around the browser, and we think is a more effective way of letting people do what they want online," says Laura Yecies, vice-president at Check Point and general manager of the company's ZoneAlarm's consumer and small-business division. "We also believe the existing model of desktop security software has to be supplemented with a product that fights what is the source of most threats for consumers today."
Check Point could have a winner on its hands.
Although ForceField offers fewer features than its competitors, it's priced attractively -- at $50 -- and could draw in users who see that threats are increasingly happening in unsolicited online downloads and spyware.
ForceField is expected to hit its final release in 2008.
If successful, ForceField could also eat into the revenue of pricier Internet security suites of rivals
( MFE). Symantec and McAfee's Internet Security Suites, which offer more than just a protected browsing environment, costs $69.99.
The launch of
comes at a time when Check Point shares are nearing their 52-week high. The company's stock, which is up more than 10% this year, was recently up 2.4% to $25.64.
"With all the volatility in the market, the stock is really hanging in there," says Aaron Kastsman portfolio manager for Israel Growth Portfolio, which holds shares of Check Point. "Check Point is really executing well, and I think ForceField is going to become very popular among users looking to stop online security threats that are on the upswing."
ForceField uses virtualization to create a browsing environment that will sit on top of Internet Explorer or Firefox and offer consumers the ability to surf safely. It also cleans the user's PC at the end of a browsing session to prevent personal information from being left behind.
Check Point's bet on virtualization is similar to
purchase earlier this year of GreenBorder Technologies, a browser-based security software maker.
The company is also talking to Web sites such as
and banks such as
Bank of America
to offer the software to their customers for secure online browsing sessions.
"We think it could become a major distribution vehicle for the product," says Yecies.