ZoneAlarm Crosses The Line; Adopts Scareware Tactics
These are the sorts of blocks AntiVirus 2009 will throw up if you try to visit a site like Microsoft.com
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.