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Author Topic: Zone Alarm problems -- alternatives?  (Read 4824 times)

Claire

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Zone Alarm problems -- alternatives?
« on: July 07, 2006, 08:41:24 pm »

During the past six months I've been surfing from public terminals & therefore (ohgodforgiveme) have used W*****s for the sake of expediency. I've been firewalled with the freeware version of Zone Alarm, a nice little program I've used over the years with no hassle.

This week Zone Labs popped up an "update available" message and -- sucker -- I chose to install the new version. Um ... guys ... do NOT install any new version of Zone Alarm. They've got some serious bugs to work out, as all the cussing and hair-tearing in their customer-support forums show. Anyhow, the upshot is that even after spending hours following their recommended fixes, no version of Zone Alarm will work on my system. Every version causes 100 percent loss of connectivity (can't even ping from the command line), with no ability to configure friendlier settings. Oh well.

I tried another freeware firewall, Ghostwall. But that required geeks-only configuration skills.

So currently I'm firewalled with Sunbelt Kerio. It seems a nice little app, about mid-way between Zone Alarm and Ghostwall in required levels of geekitude (when operated in advanced mode). But a month from now they're going to want $20 to keep full functionality going.

I just wondered if anybody else had any experience/opinions with this firewall or any other recommendations. So far I'm liking it. But free is also nice.  :laugh:

Claire

P.S. Yes, I will be migrating back to Linux now that I've had to return to having a home connection again -- Mandrake 10.1 as a dual boot on this computer and stand-alone Mandriva on another (thanks again to the Linux Fairy). BTW, I tried Ubuntu, which everybody's been raving about. The install interface was surprisingly unfriendly in advanced mode -- which I had to opt for if I wanted custom partitions -- & then the OS wouldn't run. Sigh. Another Linux Learning Experience. I hate to say it, but the old Win 2000 Pro OS I've used for these six months has run like a champ.

P.P.S. And it's SO nice having Mozilla Firefox, Thunderbird, and Enigmail available for both Linux and Windows. Man, does that make switching back and forth easy ...
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rockchucker

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Re: Zone Alarm problems -- alternatives?
« Reply #1 on: July 07, 2006, 08:59:34 pm »

... now that I've had to return to having a home connection again

So, we'll be hearing from you a little more often then, won't we?

* rockchucker give you a serious half-squint with one eyebrow raised (no emoticon for that one, eh?)

;D
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merlin419

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Re: Zone Alarm problems -- alternatives?
« Reply #2 on: July 07, 2006, 09:07:12 pm »

I have not found anything that works anywhere near as good. So I'll be switching to linx soon myself.  windooze is getting even worse than it was before...
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ZooT_aLLures

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Re: Zone Alarm problems -- alternatives?
« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2006, 08:25:41 am »

Quote
& then the OS wouldn't run.

Er uh.......explain this..........seems to me that maybe the bootloader doesn't know where the kernel or the configuration files are?
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Re: Zone Alarm problems -- alternatives?
« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2006, 06:30:12 pm »

Thanks very much for the Zone Alarm warning! Now I'm glad I've been too lazy to install the update on our WinXP machine.

Sorry, I don't have a suggestion for an alternative Windows firewall. But if you've got two computers, and want to run Windows on one, you might try a setup something like we're running here. Our Linux box has two Ethernet ports and acts as the router/firewall for our 2-machine home network. The software that handles this is iptables, which is built into Linux.  Ever since I set this up, ZoneAlarm has been intercepting NOTHING incoming in the Windows machine, since it's getting blocked by the Linux machine.

It takes a little geek-mode configuration to set up iptables, but I was able to manage it when I was a Linux brand-new-newbie, so it's not too difficult. I've got a simple script file that helps set things up -- I'll post it if you or anyone else needs it.

BTW, I tried Ubuntu, which everybody's been raving about. The install interface was surprisingly unfriendly in advanced mode -- which I had to opt for if I wanted custom partitions -- & then the OS wouldn't run.

Yeah, Ubuntu is what I went with here. Installation (of 5.04) worked but did not go entirely smoothly; upgrading (to 5.10) was extremely tedious to do "right"; and I'm still holding off on the new 6.06 upgrade while braver souls discover all the worst bugs. I can't complain about free software, and mostly it does work very well, but I think the people who expect Ubuntu (in its current state) to be a serious competitor for Windows are a bit out of touch.
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tigerenvelopes

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Re: Zone Alarm problems -- alternatives?
« Reply #5 on: July 09, 2006, 06:01:19 am »

Just to let folks know, Zone Alarm also appears to be spyware.

See
    http://www.a1-electronics.net/General_Interest/2005/Security_Nov.shtml
    http://groups.google.com/groups/search?lr=&safe=off&q=zonealarm+spyware+dlls&safe=off&qt_s=Search

You can try temporarily turning the Windows machine into Linux by using one of the LiveCD distributions. Some of them let you have your data on a usb drive.
« Last Edit: July 09, 2006, 07:30:25 pm by tigerenvelopes »
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Claire

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Re: Zone Alarm problems -- alternatives?
« Reply #6 on: July 09, 2006, 09:48:56 am »

    http://www.a1-electronics.net/General_Interest/2005/Security_Nov.shtml
   

Hm. Well that's interesting. I checked my system for the files he names and fortunately didn't find any of them. The firewall I'm now using, Kerio Sunbelt, was formerly Sygate -- the one he and many others have highly recommended. So far so good, I guess. I'll read more on this. It would be so easy -- but terribly disappointing -- for a firewall maker to become a spyware vendor.

Quote
You can try temporarily turning the Windows machine into Linux by using one of the LiveCD distributions. Some of them let you have your data on a usb drive.

Yep. Thanks to our own Linux Fairy (Plinker-MS) I've tried out many liveCD distros. I agree that the combo of liveCD and a USB thumb drive for data storage can be a good one. But the slowness and inconvenience of liveCDs makes them a bit of a PITA for the long run.

Using a W*****s machine is a temp solution for me. I love my Linux and am ready to migrate back to it for most of my needs.



And ZooT ... Ubuntu found the boot loader okay. But as soon as I'd login, it would toss me back out with a "You have been logged in less than 10 seconds message." I've run into this before when an OS was out of space on its partition. But I had just installed Ubuntu on a partition that supposedly had a full GB more than it required. So it was a mystery.

I repartitioned and installed Mandriva. Seems that no matter what else I try, I keep returning to the Mandrake family of Linuxes. To me, they remain the most user-friendly. They have nice installation interfaces (that don't require a full expert-mode install if you want to have custom partitions), they're easy to update, and I like their configuration control center, which puts every system-related config control in one spot.

Claire
« Last Edit: July 09, 2006, 09:51:40 am by Claire »
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Claire

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Re: Zone Alarm problems -- alternatives?
« Reply #7 on: July 09, 2006, 01:58:10 pm »

Well well, the wonders of having a verbose little firewall that monitors outgoing as well as incoming.

I just opened Acrobat Reader to read the production schedule SWAT's editor sent out to all us writers -- a private document sent privately. Acrobat apparently tried to "phone home" repeatedly. Each time I'd click "deny" it would just try again until I finally had to set a "deny" rule.

I suppose this behavior must be expected of freeware whose makers feel they should get something in return for their "gifts." But if so, it should be more openly disclosed.

I tried googling for info about what Adobe might be doing and found nothing. Any of you geeks have any idea what Acrobat was up to?

Claire
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Just as the flattery of friends often leads us astray, so the insults of enemies often do us good. -- St. Augustine, Confessions, Book IX, Chapter 8


When faith ceases to be a challenge to the standards of polite society, it is no longer, or has not yet become, faith. -- Donald Spoto, Reluctant Saint:  The Life of Francis of Assisi


My life is my message. -- Gandhi

Bill St. Clair

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Re: Zone Alarm problems -- alternatives?
« Reply #8 on: July 09, 2006, 02:33:13 pm »

Acrobat checks for updates by default. Don't know which version you've got, but in Adobe Reader 7.0, you can open the Edit/Preferences... dialog, go to the "Updates" section, and select "Do not automatically check for critical updates". That may stop the phoning home. It says in my copy that it does this only once per week. I don't know if it phones home for any other reason.
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Claire

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Re: Zone Alarm problems -- alternatives?
« Reply #9 on: July 09, 2006, 06:45:04 pm »

Ah, thanks Bill. I'll bet that's it. I went into automatic Paranoia Mode and didn't think about a mere search for updates. I do wish s'ware vendors were completely upfront about any and all forms of "phoning home." But that one seems relatively benign.
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Just as the flattery of friends often leads us astray, so the insults of enemies often do us good. -- St. Augustine, Confessions, Book IX, Chapter 8


When faith ceases to be a challenge to the standards of polite society, it is no longer, or has not yet become, faith. -- Donald Spoto, Reluctant Saint:  The Life of Francis of Assisi


My life is my message. -- Gandhi

Tom P.

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Re: Zone Alarm problems -- alternatives?
« Reply #10 on: July 09, 2006, 07:18:04 pm »

Quote
I repartitioned and installed Mandriva. Seems that no matter what else I try, I keep returning to the Mandrake family of Linuxes. To me, they remain the most user-friendly.

Mandriva certainly does seem to be the "go-to" for ease-of-use software.

Ive been using Comodo Personal Firewall. Its free, and seems to work, so far. Ive only been using it a few days.

Im really surprised there hasnt been more effort made by Open Source developers in the arena of firewalls and other net security.
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tigerenvelopes

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Re: Zone Alarm problems -- alternatives?
« Reply #11 on: July 09, 2006, 07:26:25 pm »

It could be that Acrobat is checking for updates. But the pdf document can also contain spyware. Adobe quietly added javascript to the pdf spec. Adobe's software interprets javascript in documents, and that lets documents themselves phone home. See

    http://lwn.net/Articles/129729

It doesn't look like open source pdf readers support javascript. We already know that security software without source code isn't secure. It may be accurate to say that any software without source code isn't secure.

Ana
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Roy J. Tellason

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Re: Zone Alarm problems -- alternatives?
« Reply #12 on: July 09, 2006, 09:51:33 pm »

It could be that Acrobat is checking for updates. But the pdf document can also contain spyware. Adobe quietly added javascript to the pdf spec. Adobe's software interprets javascript in documents, and that lets documents themselves phone home. See

    http://lwn.net/Articles/129729

It doesn't look like open source pdf readers support javascript. We already know that security software without source code isn't secure. It may be accurate to say that any software without source code isn't secure.

Ana

Interesting article.  Never mind source code for software,  I like to be able to look at what's generating that document I see on my screen.  And for the longeset time I stuck with plain told text files,  the stuff you get additionally with "document" files of one sort or another not giving me any incentive whatsoever to put up with binary file representation of what _should_ be a text document.

So in collecting a fair amount of data in recent times (see my parts pages for example) that's all in PDF,  I'm less than happy about it.

But I am *SO* glad that I've just recently acquired and compiled and installed pdftohtml here.  :-)   In trying it out on a few local files,  I find that the results are not perfect by any means,  but they're also in HTML,  which I can fiddle with until they're better than what I started with.

And if there's any javascript showing up in there (I haven't encountered any yet) I can rip it out completely,  which I tend to do with saved HTML anyway.

Screw Adopey and their PDF format anyhow!
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Claire

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Re: Zone Alarm problems -- alternatives?
« Reply #13 on: July 10, 2006, 12:10:42 pm »

It could be that Acrobat is checking for updates. But the pdf document can also contain spyware. Adobe quietly added javascript to the pdf spec. Adobe's software interprets javascript in documents, and that lets documents themselves phone home. See

    http://lwn.net/Articles/129729

It doesn't look like open source pdf readers support javascript. We already know that security software without source code isn't secure. It may be accurate to say that any software without source code isn't secure.

Ana

Hm. So you're saying that one might have as much to fear from the person creating the .pdf document as from the company creating the reader? Ack. In this case, I'm sure the sender wouldn't have planted any spyware (his boss calls him "a nineties kinda guy -- 1890s"). But you've just given me one more reason to switch back to Linux -- all those many open-source .pdf readers.

Thanks!

Claire
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Just as the flattery of friends often leads us astray, so the insults of enemies often do us good. -- St. Augustine, Confessions, Book IX, Chapter 8


When faith ceases to be a challenge to the standards of polite society, it is no longer, or has not yet become, faith. -- Donald Spoto, Reluctant Saint:  The Life of Francis of Assisi


My life is my message. -- Gandhi

Erin

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Re: Zone Alarm problems -- alternatives?
« Reply #14 on: July 10, 2006, 12:35:50 pm »

*
« Last Edit: August 27, 2007, 09:21:46 pm by Erin »
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