An effective way to reduce the impact of malware on a system is to sandbox applications. One of the most popular programs in this regard is Sandboxie which we can fully recommend.
BufferZone Pro is a free alternative for the Windows operating system that shares many of the traits that make Sandboxie so great. Once you have installed the program on a system, you will notice that it automatically sandboxes a set of default programs and processes. The program ships with a default set of programs that are automatically sandboxed when they are run on the system.
Firefox, Google Chrome, Skype and Internet Explorer are just a few of the programs that are automatically recognized and put into a sandbox. A red border around a program window indicates that it is currently sandboxed. New users may want to open the main program window to edit configuration settings before they continue to work on the system.
The main program window displays the programs and processes that are currently sandboxed, statistics about program activities, and links to preferences to change the program behavior.
Here it is for instance possible to add new processes to the list of programs that are automatically sandboxed when started, remove programs again, or empty the current Bufferzone.
Internet Explorer can furthermore make use of the Private Zone feature that allows them to configure sites, e.g. banking or shopping sites, that should automatically isolate the browser in a sandbox when opened.
A click on the small button on the left side of the program window opens an advanced menu where additional preferences become available.
Policy for instance allows you to change default program behavior. BufferZone by default will installed unsigned programs in the sandbox. You can make modifications here, for instance to install all programs that are installed from external devices inside the sandbox.
The firewall page lets you allow or deny network access for programs running in the virtual environment, with options to configure those rights for all programs or select programs only.
Configuration finally lets you configure passwords for program access, configure advanced policy controls for signed and unsigned installers and external devices by type, or whether you'd like to empty the buffer automatically or only manually.
All programs and files that you download from within a sandboxed program are automatically virtualized. While you still see them listed on the system, they are virtual and will be executed in a sandbox when run. You do however have the option to move the files out of the sandbox, which can be useful if you want to keep the files, or process them in third party programs. This is done by right-clicking the files and selecting the move or open outside of Bufferzone option in Windows Explorer.
You usually do want to execute the downloaded files in the virtual environment though as a security precataution, especially for files where you can't say for sure that they are clean. The sandbox prevents damages to the system should the files that you run inside the sandbox are indeed malicious in nature.
A snapshot of the current state can be created at any time, and restored at a later point in time. This can be useful if you want to restore the Bufferzone to a previous state.
It is lastly possible to hide files and folders from the BufferZone, which basically means that programs running inside the virtual environment cannot access those files or folders even if they try to do so.
BufferZone Pro has been designed as another line of defense on a system. It works very well in conjunction with antivirus software, considering that it will protect the system if malware managed to slip past the installed antivirus solution.
The program itself is compatible with all recent 32-bit and 64-bit editions of the Microsoft Windows operating systems. Interested users who are not yet fully convinced can run a free security test on their system to see what security software can do when Bufferzone is not installed, and what will happen when it is installed on the system.
BufferZone Pro is offered for free at the Trustware website.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.