back to article Check Point defends ZoneAlarm scareware-style warning

Check Point has defended controversial marketing tactics that confronted ZoneAlarm users with what critics describe as a scareware-style dialogue box to convince them to upgrade to paid-for personal firewall software. Users of the free version of the personal firewall were confronted by a warning that their PCs 'may be in …

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  1. irish donkey
    Alert

    The message looked like a alert , smelled like a alert but...

    and certainly not a marketing message. The message definitely suggested there was a problem and I did do a certain amount of rummaging around on my puter before I decided it was SPAM.

    I haven't been using ZoneAlarm for long as I previously used Comodo Firewall but this no longer works with AVG. Pity!

    This would scare true noobs into forking out for something they don't need.

    Walks like a Duck! blah blah blah

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      AVG?

      Why not use the full Comodo suite. AVG is awful.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Alert

      The message looked like a alert , smelled like a alert but...

      If it looks like a dogturd and smells like a dogturd and tastes like a dogturd then it's probably a ZoneAlarm scareware scam.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Go On Then

        I'll bite. How would you know if it tasted like a dog turd?

  2. thefutureboy
    Thumb Down

    May I be the first to say:

    Yeah, chinny reckon!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Saw that, wasn't best pleased.

    I'll be happy to take suggestions for an alternate free firewall.

    AVG has already gone in favour of Avast.

  4. Dom 3

    Another one bites the dust...

    Is it absolutely inevitable that good products will eventually turn into bad products?

  5. Richard 81

    "Ah crap"

    I did think "ah crap" when I saw it, thinking I'd allowed my machine to get infected with scareware. This was followed by confusion and suspicion when I saw ZoneAlarm in the title bar. I happened to be using the Mrs' laptop when it popped up on that too, so managed to diffuse that one as well.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    right

    If they'd at least admit their wrongdoing and promise not to use scare tactics anymore I'd be happy. The quoted paragraph of FUD doesn't make them seem trustworthy.

  7. JohnG

    Shot in the foot

    "...For a legitimate security firm like Check Point to adopt similar tactics is a great shame because it can only increase user confusion, especially if other suppliers respond in kind to the ZoneAlarm slur against the effectiveness of their products."

    Many users will now probably associate Checkpoint and ZoneAlarm with fake security software vendors who employ similar tactics. What were they thinking?

    Their competitors may choose to capitalise on Checkpoint's error by offering advice that suggests those who try to sell you stuff with fake warnings are all scammers.

  8. Andrew 98
    FAIL

    Still disappointed

    Do checkpoint really think this is going to encourage us to recommend their products to corporates when the firm tries such a low technique to hoodwink a few sales from home-users?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    They've been getting worse......

    Check Point have been up to this kind of thing for a couple of years.

    They have become quite unscrupulous in their nagging once the license has expired. Popups all over the place that you can't turn off.

    The irony being that I get more spam from Zone Alarm than I ever did off genuine threats, which was sorta the reason I bought it in the first place.

    Seems odd that they'd nag their customers to the extent that the customer wants out... but that seems to be their plan. Perhaps time to look at some other software.

  10. Adrian Jones

    Whatever their intentions...

    ...this looked like a virus alert. If IT professionals have to look twice at it, then "ordinary" users will panic.

    Check Point need to acknowledge that they messed up here and take steps not to do it again.

  11. Cameron Colley

    Does nobody apologise nowadays?

    Why can't companies just say something like "We are sorry that the message was taken the wrong way and will not display one in future."? That would, without admitting any motive to deceive, probably stop all but the most rabid critics from moaning about this any more.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      Nobody apologises nowadays

      Why apologise?

      If you were silly enough to fall for the ZoneAlarm scam then it's 100% your own fault.

      Just ask Checkpoint and they'll tell you so!

  12. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Typical...

    Fairly typical Check Point performance. I've always been of the opinion that ZoneAlarm was crapware and this kinda re-inforces that view.

  13. GettinSadda
    Alert

    No longer

    "For a legitimate security firm like Check Point to adopt similar tactics is a great shame because it can only increase user confusion"

    As far as I am concerned - this is not true as the company can no longer be regarded as "a legitimate security firm". The moment they started using underhand dirty tricks they lost the right to be called legitimate.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Great Idea!

    Yes - a firewall build completely out of Marshmallows ... anyone running ZA really deserves whatever it dishes up to them.

  15. Jerome 0
    Thumb Down

    So sad

    "It was never our intent to lead customers to believe they have a virus on their computer."

    What an utterly ingenuous statement. To my mind, Check Point just lost whatever shreds of credibility they had left. They're no better than scareware merchants now.

    They used to make a good free firewall product, but it's been going downhill for years. I switched to Comodo a long time ago.

  16. Tequila Joe

    ZOMG Alarm

    FUD! - the sound of the number of recommendations for Zone Alarm going through the floor.

    I used to recommend Zone Alarm in order to avoid problem calls, not to generate them.

  17. spiny norman
    FAIL

    Poor judgement

    Having had the warning from Checkpoint and trawling the net to see what the threat actually was, it was quite clear that a lot of people did think they had a virus. Checkpoint could have worded the message better, both from a user and a marketing point of view - probably more free users would have been interested in the cheap upgrade offer if they hadn't first been sent on a wild goose chase looking for a virus they didn't have and were unlikely to get.

    I used to pay for ZoneAlarm, but stopped when the sub expired, due to the number of false positives and the difficulty in getting support, which is like trying to get blood out of a stone hidden under a needle in a haystack.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Grenade

    Looks like scareware to me too

    Looks like scareware to me, seems pretty genuine! I stopped using Zone Alarm when they decided to stop playing nice with CA AV and asked if I would like to REMOVE CA AV so IT could install a firewall update!!

  19. CD001

    Saw it...

    Saw it - clicked the "See threat details button" - thought, "that was a bad idea - clicking a random button on a popup..." ... anyway.

    Read the blurb which was basically saying upgrade to ZoneAlarm Pro to be protected from this $new_scary_thing - none of these other free offerings protect you from $new_scary_thing! What if there are @scary_things?!?

    So, compare PAID_FOR ZoneAlarm Pro with AntiVirus to oooh FREE Avast? And in this one, single test case, paid for ZAPro was better... yeah, I'm convinced by that argument. *close*

    1. beli bouton
      Thumb Down

      ZA BS

      The claim that ZA Paid was your only chance of salvation was 100% bullshit aimed at frightening already-frightened ZA Free users into parting with dollars.

  20. Nauseus Maximus
    FAIL

    Fake AV

    Looks like commercial AV is now using the same tactics as the FakeAV scareware/malware providers. Soon we won't know who to trust!

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    W*nkers

    It's as bad as rogue security application spammers.

    Checkpoint need a good kick in the arse.

  22. Adam Salisbury
    FAIL

    Drag 'em over the coals!

    If that's not a scareware message then I don't know what is, it's exactly the same kind of "alert" the nefarious malware vendors use to dupe the n00bs and for an IT serucity firm to do the same is unforgivable.

    These kinds of things are looking more and more realistic and believable all the time with these jokers adding to the FUD, times must be hard and money short at Check Point for them to stoop to this

  23. David 45

    Waffle

    Definite piece of damage limitation from Checkpoint here! Coming back to bite them on the bum. (UK term for ass!)

  24. Da Weezil

    Time to upgrade to another firewall.

    I admin several machines that require a new licence next month. Wont be ZA now, given the way they did this and their refusal to concede that to the average user it LOOK like an alert.

    I have no time for companies that employ cheap tricks like this. Guess its time to fire up the test rig and start auditioning. hopefully this stunt will damage their reputation and maybe even sales ,after all I know a few people now that have decided that this was a false positive designed to deceive - and for many - that renders the software "unreliable".

    What a cheap and nasty stunt!

  25. ph0b0s

    Shame on Checkpoint

    We use this in my house hold and I work on their enterprise firewalls at work. Had a lot of respect for Checkpoint, but after these very real looking alerts came on on multiple house hold PC's, I have no respect anymore for the company. Way to shoot yourselves in the foot Checkpoint....

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    I call bull faeces

    [quote src="CheckPoint MarketDroid"]

    This was purely an informative message about a legitimate and serious virus

    [/quote]

    No, this was a sleazy attempt to scaremonger people into upgrading to one of your paid-for products.

    And your statement is a sleazy attempt to paper over that fact.

  27. Loyal Commenter
    Flame

    Typical marketing bullshit

    ...Do something that your customers sonsider to be pretty reprehensible, then rather than apologise and accept a slap on the wrist, continue to claim that you are in the right and that those you have upset are in the wrong.

    Worked well for Phorm, that tactic, didn't it? Is that you, Kent? Are you now 'working' for Check Point?

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well, Checkpoint needed something to do.

    They bought up somebody else's firewall (-Zonealarm) and they partnered it with somebody else's Antivirus (-Kaspersky). They had to find something to do, just to justify their salaries...

  29. Tom 13

    I was once a great believer in Zone Alarm.

    Stopped using it years ago when I saw their product in a similar pop-up scare alert.

  30. Blitterbug
    FAIL

    Unbelievable

    I run a small business as a local 'PC Doctor', and 90% of viruses I deal with on a weekly basis are scareware. This so-called 'promotion' uses *word-for-word' the text from any scareware variant you care to name, whether XP Antivirus, Antivirus Live or SecurityTool.

    In my opinion, although the product is not itself a virus, many people will believe they are infected and will pay the money. Effectively, cash has been extorted using fear as leverage. How exactly does this differ from the scareware 'business model'??? Wankers.

  31. Nerd King
    FAIL

    Uninstalled immediately

    Needless to say I won't be spending my money with these scaremongering bastards. About 5 minutes after the box came up I uninstalled Zonealarm and decided to make use of my bank's free kaspersky for my windows box.

  32. Paranoid Infosec Guy
    FAIL

    Fairly dumb.

    I would have assumed that it was hijacked scareware and uninstalled immediately.

  33. Damien Thorn
    FAIL

    real/false

    Every security company I can think of has at some stage made a right fiasco of security. And as consumers we have no real way of being certain we are not compromised other than to trust these products regardless of how skilled we think we actually are, so when a company advertises in the way some scareware programs do you can hardly blame us mere users going elsewhere.

  34. KayKay
    FAIL

    The days of the student writing a virus for fun are over. It's all about $$$$....

    Part of my work involves ranking spammed domains on a very big social networking site, so priority can be given to taking action against the most dangerous.

    Simply put, I spend two hours every day clicking on links posted by spammers. WIthout an AV or firewall of any kind, in order to see what the links do to an unprotected computer. I DO clean up afterwards...but rarely find more than a standard tracking cookie. Apart from the well-known suspects -- porn, gambling and "crack" sites -- very few sites seem to download viruses or trojans. Email attachments might still be a risk.

    The bigger danger to end-users is the proliferation of scams that will cost them money (eg surveys that are phishing for emails and/or charging fees on mobile phone bills) and these include most of the scareware anti-virus programs. There is NO program available to prevent losses caused by user naiveté.

    BTW the big names are no less innocent...both Norton and McAfee a year or two ago were in trouble for automatically taking next year's membership from people's credit cards WITHOUT ASKING THEM, and of course are near impossible to remove once you've installed them.

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