An alert reader wrote to mention that the “Zone Alarm ForceField,” we wrote about recently looks and acts like the “GreenBorder,” we wrote about a few years ago. Both programs create a protective shield when you browse the web.

ForceField puts a giant shield around you as you surf the web, protecting you from bad guys. It costs $50 from “GreenBorder” also used to cost $50 but was taken over by Google and is now free as part of Google’s new web browser “Chrome.” If you opt to use Chrome, you get a protective browsing shield with it. Google software writers say the shield makes it impossible for anyone to view the credit card numbers you’re typing, read your tax returns, or start running a program without your permission.

Since one costs $50 and the other is free, what’s the difference? We put that very question to the folks at Zone Alarm and they made a couple of good points. Google’s “Chrome” browser, they pointed out, protects you from known phishing sites – web sites that look legitimate but are not. ForceField flags these and potential phishing sites that haven’t been identified yet. ForceField also protects plug-ins, programs like QuickTime, that let you watch movies inside a browser. Chrome developers are still working on that.

We like Chrome for other reasons. For one, it guesses what you’re looking for. Start typing a few letters into its combination address field and search bar and it fills out the rest with the most likely web address. Click the plus sign to open a new page and you’ll see a collection of thumbnail images representing sites you’ve visited before. You can do stealth browsing if you wish, leaving no trace of where you’ve been.

We recently read a poll showing that more CNET users use Chrome than the browser, Opera, which has been around much longer. These are “early adopters,” and they are often the edge of the wedge in finding what later become popular products. You can read more about Chrome at

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