Virtualization Technology News and Information
Trustware enters the BufferZone

Quoting the Inquirer

The problem with all security software like anti-virus programs and the like is that they require constant updating to help protect you from the latest attacks that are constantly being created and modified by the evil sorts out there in an attempt to destroy your precious PC and steal your identity. Trustware has a program out there called BufferZone that may offer a solution to all that by creating a virtual environment in which you can run anything. This means that when bad things happen they happen only in the virtual environment and you can just clear out the virtual desktop to return everything to normal.

Trustware offers several variants of this software. There is a free version that works with a single application such as a web browser, P2P file transfer program or Internet Messaging program. There is also a full home version, which is the one being reviewed here, which is available as a free 30-day trial and thereafter they'd like you to give them a few bucks if you want to keep using it. Lastly, there is an Enterprise Edition available which operates much like the home version but also offers a range of network management options with support for Microsoft Active Directory Group Policy.

After installing BufferZone on a Dell notebook Windows crashed on boot-up with and continued to do so until we loaded the 'Last working version' and removed BufferZone. We can only assume it had some conflict issues with the network and profile management software already installed. Installing it on several other machines encountered no problems at all and once installed there is a new icon on the taskbar to access BufferZone and show its status.

Once up and running BufferZone creates a virtual environment in which to run applications, kind of like a PC within a PC, and it can a little getting used the idea of what's running on the virtual PC and what's running in the real one and how to switch files and programs between them. This is made a lot easier by the fact that everything running inside BufferZone is surrounded by a red border. You can switch this option off, but then it can get very confusing indeed. Just to add the confusion you can also switch to the BufferZone desktop in which everything automatically takes place virtually. You don't need to panic just yet, there is a helpful tutorial that pops up the first time that BufferZone is run and some good support from help files and the forum on Trustware's website.

We ran BufferZone against several security test programs and we were very pleased to note that it worked every time, even on a PC with no anti-virus or firewall installed. It is important to note that BufferZone won't necessarily stop the virus or spyware or whatever from occurring, but that anything that happens only occurs to the virtual machine and so none of your files or system settings are changed, similarly your personal data is not available from within BufferZone and you are thus protected from most forms of phishing attack.

When running an application for the first time with BufferZone there can be a very short delay as it starts up, while BZ configures it for use in the virtual environment, but aside from that BufferZone had no discernable impact on system performance, even for games or with multiple applications running.

In Short
It can take a while to understand how BufferZone works, but it'll work just fine as you bumble along learning the ins and outs of what's going on between the two environments. We would recommend this software to just about anyone, particularly if you or your family spend a lot of time on the interweb or download a lot of screensavers or other applications from dubious websites.

The Good
Protects users from almost every form of online attack
Provides a safe area in which to test applications downloaded from the interweb

The Bad
Can be confusing knowing what's virtual and what's real
Can conflict with other hardware drivers and network tools

The Ugly
Uses the word 'automagically' in the marketing spin

Read or discuss the original, here.

Published Wednesday, January 17, 2007 6:58 PM by David Marshall
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