Dysmey Post > Essays > Computing > Adieu, ZoneAlarm

Adieu, ZoneAlarm

I have used ZoneAlarm for years, starting at a point long before it was bought by Check Point. It has worked very well for me on the machines I have used, on Windows systems from Win95 to WinXP. I have had no trouble with it or from the original company, Zone Labs, that make it.

Now it looks like the company that now makes ZoneAlarm, Check Point Software, is trying to terrify customers into buying paid versions of the software.

Check Point Software appears to be ripping a page from the scum it claims to fight, running a scare-tactic warning dialog to frighten users into upgrading to a paid version of the company's ZoneAlarm firewall product. Preying on fears of ZeuS.Zbot, the Check Point warning dialog tells users their PCs may be in danger without having found ZeuS.Zbot, nor having checked to see whether you're running an antivirus product. The program doesn't care if you're infected with ZeuS.Zbot, or if you have protection in place. It just wants to sell you an upgrade to the firewall that may or may not detect future ZeuS.Zbot variants' activities — some day. Check Point's customers have inundated the ZoneAlarm forums with complaints.

These days I use ZoneAlarm only on Isis, my pico-ITX computer running Windows XP. I use it as an anti-virus/anti-malware software as well as a firewall. ZoneAlarm slows down Isis (which is very slow as it is) every time it runs its updates. But I never thought it has gotten that bad until this morning, when I read the Slashdot comments and learned how bad ZoneAlarm had become.

The terror advertisement is not causing only complaints. It is causing defections.

Well, they fooled me at first because I've had ZoneAlarm installed for ages and trusted it. After looking through my running processes, registry, etc, and doing a virus scan I suspected something was dodgy because there was no indication of this zeus trojan. It was then I found the big list of complaints on ZoneAlarm's forums. I was a bit annoyed that they wasted my time. Until yesterday when this showed up I had no reason no to trust what ZoneAlarm was telling me. Now, I am not so sure.

This one came from a techie who switched a customer over to another firewall software for the same reason.

The summary is spot on. I haven't been a Windows user for a number of years, but a friend asked me to fix her malware problem and I reinstalled her Windows XP box. For the firewall, I remembered ZoneAlarm from a few years ago and installed it. After the first reboot, some stupid popup appeared, prompting me to "like" the software on Facebook. I'm like WTF? But still gave them the benefit of the doubt. Next reboot it comes up with the totally bogus popup that I may get infected with Zeus. I had to reread it twice to find out it really was an advertisement.

I downloaded Comodo [comodo.com], unplugged the network, uninstalled ZoneAlarm, installed Comodo and plugged back into the inter webs. Never looked back.

I probably will not buy any Check Point software for my business either.

Someone has listed some free or low-cost firewall software to replace ZoneAlarm.


Below is a list of free application software firewalls I put together a while ago. Not sure if they are all current, and I am probably missing quite a few, but it is a starting point.


Active Network [lanctrl.com] - Active Wall Free Edition [lanctrl.com]
Agnitum [agnitum.com] - Outpost Firewall Free [agnitum.com]
AS3 Soft4U [xthost.info] - AS3 Personal Firewall [slashdot.org]
Ashampoo [ashampoo.com] - Ashampoo Firewall Free [ashampoo.com]
Comodo Group [comodo.com] - Comodo Firewall (now a part of Comodo Internet Security [comodo.com])
FilSecLab [filseclab.com] - Filseclab Personal Firewall Professional Edition [filseclab.com]
Group 4 Business Intelligence [g4bi.com] - IDNWebShield [idnwebshield.com] (main web site down when last checked)
NetVeda [netveda.com] - NetVeda SafetyNet [netveda.com]
PC Tools [pctools.com] - PC Tools Firewall Plus Free Edition [pctools.com]
PrivacyWare [privacyware.com] - Privatefirewall [privacyware.com]
SecurePoint [securepoint.cc] - Securepoint Personal Firewall & VPN Client [cnet.com] - (discontinued?)
SoftPerfect [softperfect.com] - SoftPerfect Personal Firewall [softperfect.com]
Tall Emu [tallemu.com] - Online Armor Free [tallemu.com] - (acquired by EmsiSoft?)
WIPFW Project [sourceforge.net] - WIPFW [sourceforge.net] - (port of BSD IPFW)

Firewall Managers

GT Delphi Components [gtdelphicomponents.gr] - Windows Firewall Ports & Applications Manager [gtdelphicomponents.gr] (WFWPAM)
Sheesley, Eric [shadowlair.com] - XPFiremon [shadowlair.com]

Hopefully, this is of help.

My Kaspersky Antivirus has three licenses, two of which I have used on my two main boxes (Madoka and Nabiki). It is time I put the last license to use on Isis and drop ZoneAlarm once and for all.

Written by Andy West on 21 September 2010.