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ZoneAlarm Using ''Scareware'' to Sell Firewall

Firewall developer Check Point Software Technologies has come under fire from consumers using the free version of its popular ZoneAlarm firewall client. According to complaints, the company is using scareware tactics designed to frighten users into purchasing the paid version by flashing fake pop-up warnings.

"So I get this pop-up when I started my computer. I'm used to malware trying this ... junk," said one consumer on the ZoneAlarm forums. "Now I understand that Check Point wants to advertise its other products, but when did they start using these stupid tactics. You may just finally push me into buying a firewall product--from someone else."

Another user thought the pop-up was real and was convinced that the hard drive needed formatting. "ZoneAlarm has popped up with a virus warning me that it will take my personal financial details, login and passwords. I am extremely worried about this I cannot afford to let my information get stolen," the post read.

The pop-up in question--labeled as Global Virus Alert in bold, black letters--insists that the consumer's PC may be at high risk from the ZeuS.Zbot.aoaq Trojan virus. This nasty malware steals banking passwords and financial data that apparently isn't blocked by the free version of ZoneAlarm. The pop-up provides a link to purchase the full security suite which also contains an anti-virus scanner provided by Kaspersky Labs.

ZoneAlarm's "GeorgeV" said that the pop-up is merely information about a new virus, and that it does not indicate that the user's system is infected. "Letting you know that in addition to your ZA Free Firewall," he said. "You also need a good anti-virus program to protect you against viruses. If you already have a good updated anti-virus program installed, then you can just ignore the notice."

According to the company, the full ZoneAlarm suite is the only solution that blocks this particular Trojan--Norton, Free AVG, Free AVAST Free Avira, and TrendMicro apparently do not. The Register said that Check Point culled the data from VirusTotal without permission from Hispasec Sistemas. It's believed that the information is actually outdated.

Kevin started taking PCs apart in the 90s when Quake was on the way and his PC lacked the required components. Since then, he’s loved all things PC-related and cool gadgets ranging from the New Nintendo 3DS to Android tablets. He is currently a contributor at Digital Trends, writing about everything from computers to how-to content on Windows and Macs to reviews of the latest laptops from HP, Dell, Lenovo, and more. 

  • Marco925
    Gone are the days when Zonealarm was a Good Free Firewall
  • Arethel
    Those are my thoughts exactly. I remember this programs far more humble origins.
  • HalJordan
    ZoneAlarm's "GeorgeV" said that the pop-up is merely information about a new virus, and that it does not indicate that the user's system is infected.

    Bull. They know exactly how the layman will react to such a pop-up. Just because there are computer illiterates out there does not give companies, companies that claim to be protecting them, the right to shuck 'em.
  • JohnnyLucky
    I would think the last thing a user wants is a pop-up advertising, especially one that is capable being misunderstood.
  • I migrated to Comodo once I moved to Vista 64 (now Windows 7 x64) since ZA didn't support 64-bit systems. Still use it and recommend it as an excellent free FW+AV package.
  • m0r7if3r
    glad I moved on to comodo after it beat zone alarm on matousec...
  • Hilarion
    Yeah, I ignored it and I'm looking for another firewall tool that doesn't use "malware" style advertising.
  • christop
    And most people fall for this.
  • thejerk
    ZA was never a good free firewall. Almost ten years ago, it was suspected to be at least malware and certainly bloat-ware. The built-in Windows firewalls are very good, and shouldn't be replaced by normal users with other software firewalls, anyway.
  • Vampyrbyte
    This kind of shit should be illegal under international law and punishable with prinson sentences in complying countries, and treated as an act of aggression to the countries of the UN for any country to house someone doing this absoloute scamming shit!