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Friday, March 03, 2006

Internet, Web, E-mail security update

Regular readers will know that we take Internet, web and e-mail security seriously and have always used ZoneAlarm, Norton Anti-virus and AdSubtract. This way in the past we have been able to stop our computers from being attacked and infected. BUT.
Things change.
The other day we were going over one of our computers and found in the Windows Internet Logs folder a file that we had never seen before and was growing at an alarming rate. We used all our skills and knowledge to delete it and stop it from working. We eventually tracked this growing file down to belonging to ZoneAlarm. If you use ZoneAlarm then look at the 'IAMDB.RDB' and there is even a back up for it there as well. Wonderful we say.
After browsing the web to see if anybody else knew anything about this file we found this:
"It seems that ZA comes with two spy dlls that according to the their manufacturer "utilizes its patented metering methodology to measure actual Internet and digital media audience user behaviour in real-time - click-by-click, page-by-page, second-by-second."
I found these two:

Had been left on my system after uninstalling ZA. It seems that your system configuration and maybe the activity is logged to the file Iamdb.rbd, then transmitted. This discussion also implicates Steve Gibson of Grc/ShieldsUp/Opout in this as well."
These were new to us but we knew that some program or other was continually accessing the web while our computers were on but as ZoneAlarm did not say it was anything suspicious and we just assumed it was one of our security programs checking for a new version or whatever we did not worry much, as one would.
But it did annoy us that it seemed to be going on continually and should not. Thus we started searching to find out what was happening and why which is why we found the IAMDB.RDB file and that it was growing at an alarming rate. There always was a ZoneAlarm file in the past that grew but that was easy to replace every-so-often with a blank file. But not this.
Bear in mind that we use the paid for Pro version and not the free version that one might expect some checking which would be reasonable, but not if you have been a loyal paying customer for years.

Thus we have e-mailed ZoneAlarm twice now and eventually got an automated reply back saying they will get in touch with us in a couple of days. We have told them in no uncertain words that we will publish our findings as this policy of ZoneAlarm spying on peoples computers is totally unacceptable.
We have now tried using another firewall software called Sygate Personal Firewall which is free. There is a paid for version but as you can appreciate at first we are trying the free version to see what we think of it and to see if it works.
Well. Now we have a free firewall blocking the spying activities of a paid for firewall. Can you believe that. We can also say that the Sygate Firewall is working and stopping ZoneAlarm from phoning home all the time with our private and confidential computer use data.
Here is the web site link for Sygate which is part of Symantec.
We are just very pleased that we are now blocking ZoneAlarm but it makes our blood boil.
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