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The fall and fall of ZoneAlarm.
Topic Rating: 0 (0 votes) 
September 21, 2010
3:34 AM
MikeR
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Sad to see a once-upon-a-time great product in the hands of snake-oil salesmen.

Hucksters who now own ZA have decided they need more money, so have resorted to the sleaziest of scareware tactics to persuade users of the free version into forking out for the commercial version.

Checkpoint, owners of ZA, flatly deny they're out to deceive anyone. Oh, really? A splash screen of the most alarmist kind now pops up in front of ZA free-version users:

Global Virus Alert!

Your PC may be in danger!

Virus details: RISK HIGH

Virus: ZeuS.Zbot.aoaq

Discovered: September 13, 2010

"Your ZoneAlarm Free Firewall provides basic protection. But this new threat requires additional security."

Really, software selling gets no grubbier than this.

 

Frown

September 21, 2010
4:09 AM
jumbi
Geek
Forum Posts: 236
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July 14, 2009
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wow, if its true, its very pitty …

(agreed MikeR).

September 21, 2010
4:35 AM
MikeR
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Sadly, Jumbi, it's true.

El Reg (sorry, 'The Register'!) readers like myself have been following this tasteless saga for a while now. And reportedly, some users of ZA Free have posted to ZA forums their intention to uninstall ZA from their computers and never go near the company again.

A summary of that situation is here:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/09/20/zonealarm_scareware_flap/

and now there's a response from the company here:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/09/21/zonealarm_defends_controversial_malware_warning/

The response is so transparently unbelievable as to make an already shabby situation even worse.

What a shame: though I don't use ZA any more, I remember it fondly in its early days when it really was my computer's best friend. . .

September 21, 2010
3:38 PM
Pwnana
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November 15, 2009
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It truly is a shame to see this sort of thing.  While they are technically right, the manner in which they presented it (using scary looking warnings and data from a single instant) is just dirty.

You got Pwnd
September 22, 2010
6:18 AM
MikeR
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Not even sure about Checkpoint (the current owners of ZA) being technically right. ZA is a firewall. What they were scaring folks with was a virus warning -- *and* misrepresenting the worth of AV publishers as well.

Checkpoint has now abandoned the scareware, claiming that "proactive engagement" with ZA free users has shown that the pop-up may have been "misinterpreted".

Yeah. Right. The only interpretation sensible folks will have of this is a determination to stay well clear in future: if ZA's owners have such contempt for those using its product, Gawd only knows what kind of snake-oil thinking goes into the creation of the product itself.  

September 22, 2010
4:39 PM
karen
Washington, DC Metro Area
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They used to be such a great company. I used ZA happily on Win2K and WinXP machines. I skipped Vista and for my Win7 laptop, I just go with the built-in firewall.

I heard about this scareware tactic. A reputable company would never do that. Reasonably tech-savvy people would probably realize that they are full of s**t, but the general populace would not (such as my parents and in-laws that I have to do tech support for).

September 23, 2010
4:57 AM
MikeR
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Spot on, Karen: no reputable company would consider this kind of tactic. The message (not the pop-up one) is clear: Checkpoint doesn't give a damn about its own reputation, only its revenue stream. On which basis, the outfit and its products are to be steered clear of -- losing trust in a firewall, of all things, is about as serious a loss as a computer user can contemplate.

September 24, 2010
7:27 AM
Pandora
England
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August 11, 2010
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This has also been running for a while on the ZA forums http://forums.zonealarm.com/sh…..hp?t=75332

- people have been signing up just to say they have un-installed ZA. All mention of what they have moved to is edited out (or seems to be which I have no problem with , but it's hardley an open forum!)

Some of the ZA people got quite agitated early on …even though there is this quote from one of them

"Please note that ZA does NOT systematically monitor this board. We are all users here.

If you want to contact ZA staff you need to click on the links in my signature."

After many years running it on all PCs I switched to Comodo a year or so back, ZA just got too needy

1 1 1 cheers for binary
September 24, 2010
9:05 AM
MikeR
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Thanks for the specific link, Pandora: it's just rewarded me with several minutes of fun reading. I guess that Checkpoint can be forgiven for not wanting competitor software to be identified on a forum which Checkpoint pays for, but even so: the constant snipping of references is unintentionally hilarious.

Like you, I stopped using ZA a lo-nn-g time ago, though with fond memories of it in all its Win98 glory. Comodo was also my destination of choice, but me and it simply didn't get along and I finally fled from its invasiveness and time-consuming obstructiveness to Tall Emu's Online Armor.

Haven't looked back, and have found the OA combination with Avast AV (its resident shields are outstanding) so consistently reliable that nowadays I find myself installing it on the machines of friends and family members unfortunate to have had to take the Vista OS on their store-bought PCs. None of 'em now even know what a UAC is, still less rubbish about rights / privileges / elevated admin. 

As to ZoneAlarm, I see from that forum link that Checkpoint's "explanation" is rehearsed in full, though too little, too late, and way too deceitful: ZA is a Titanic that having falsely warned of the existence of an ice-berg has just ploughed head-on into a real one.  RIP, ZA.

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