ZoneAlarm Crosses The Line; Adopts Scareware Tactics

If you've surfed the Internet for any length of time, chances are good that you've seen a browser window pop up with a warning that your computer is in DANGER from a whole slew of evil viruses. Such windows, if clicked on, often perform an utterly fake virus scan during which they invariably "detect" infected/contaminated files. Users are then prompted to purchase a registered copy of Antivirus 2010 in order to protect themselves. Certain versions of the program will intercept and hijack online searches, disable or refuse to install real antimalware software, and may even block users from accessing web portals that are known to contain removal tools.

These are the sorts of blocks AntiVirus 2009 will throw up if you try to visit a site like

Given the pervasive annoyance and real financial harm such programs cause, it's downright surprising to hear that ZoneAlarm, which has fought such scammers and scare tactics for over ten years, has directly copied a page from its enemies' playbook. Over the weekend and through yesterday, hundreds of ZoneAlarm users angrily sounded off about the company's new 'warning' concerning the ZeuS.Zbot.

While ZeuS is a genuine threat, ZoneAlarm chose to warn its customers by sending a message that stated: "Global Virus Alert / Your PC may be in danger!... Threat Name: ZeuS.Zbot.aoaq ... is a new Trojan virus that steals banking passwords and financial account data. Your ZoneAlarm Free Firewall provides basic protection, but this new threat requires additional security." Upon receipt of this charming pop-up, users were presented with two options—get details or get protection. ZoneAlarm didn't perform any sort of ZeuS-detecting scan before hitting customers with claims that they were unprotected, and it didn't check for the presence of any non-ZA antivirus products.

In the wake of customer outrage, ZA has hastily backpedaled, saying: "It was never our intent to lead customers to believe they have a virus on their computer. This was purely an informative message about a legitimate and serious virus that also included information about the differences in protection of various products, and how to get protection against it." We don't buy it. This wasn't a case of a company inadvertently putting its foot in a hornet nest; ZA has spent a decade fighting scammers who use precisely these tactics. Hopefully the  company hasn't forgotten whose side it's supposed to be on.
Via:  Infoworld
inspector 4 years ago

I hate these crap... i had real virus like these twice -.- lol. I never got rid of it actually. i just reinstalled my HDD as it was time i did my transfer to my other HDD for windows 7 anyways :)

acarzt 4 years ago

ZoneAlarm used to be good.

Hasn't their software traded hands a few times now?

Super Dave 4 years ago

I used to use ZoneAlarm, but not any more. I feel safe enough hiding behind the Windows 7 firewall, in concert with my router's hardware firewall. Someone at ZoneAlarm must've been under the influence when they hatched this nefarious boneheaded scareware scheme!

digitaldd 4 years ago

I myself use the OSes built-in firewall no matter the OS. But recommend Comodo to those that ask about a free firewall for Windows.

Kiristo 4 years ago

Sad to see Zone Alarm make this mistake, while I simply use the built in Windows firewall on my PC, I have oft recommended Zone Alarm in the past when asked of a third party firewall.

animatortom 4 years ago

So in other words they got caught doing what they do....Infecting computers so they can sell more antivirus software!

We go home from work and watch movies or play games, they go home and send out maleware and viruses so they have job security. It is kinda like if a fireman went out and set fires for the sake of having work. They even made a movie about it:P

This was not a mistake and no Viruses are ever a mistake! You can make a mistake cutting of your finger. But getting someone pregnant is not a mistake...You still have to initialize the act.

lonewolf 4 years ago

This is right behind McAfee crashing computers upon the update.

realneil 4 years ago

[quote user="lonewolf"]

This is right behind McAfee crashing computers upon the update.


I gave up on any commercial virus and firewall protection long ago. We all have the option of using free software that I have found to work BETTER than paid solutions time and time again. Two friends of mine who did consulting years ago found out the hard way when Norton AV took a huge hit and ALL of their customer's PC's crashed due to a virus. (not the only time for them either) They had insisted that everyone have Norton or they wouldn't deal with them. As a result, they had egg on their faces and many angry people questioning their ability to advise them.

My AVAST customers had no problems at all. AVAST updates their signature files 3-times a day sometimes!

AVAST is free and works well. Spybot Search And Destroy works well towards adding protection too.

Why buy something year after year for big money (each computer that you own too) when free works as well or better? This is a no-brainer.

acarzt 4 years ago

All I use is Windows Firewall, and common sense to not get viruses.

I used to recommend Zone alarm pretty often too. Until they got picked up by CA(Computer Associates) I hate those guys and all of their software. They're crooked.

After that, I stopped using and recommending Zone Alarm.

It used to be great. It would block EVERYTHING unless you gave it permission, so nothing was getting through without you knowing. It doesn't even try to make a guess for you, it was very communicative and effective. Apparantly now it's junk. I will stop suggesting it.

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