Alexander: A free firewall now includes risky add-ons

  • Article by: STEVE ALEXANDER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 8, 2014 - 5:12 PM

Q: I downloaded the ZoneAlarm free firewall for my Windows 7 laptop. But every time I run my SpyHunter security program, it comes up with all kinds of nasty things from ZoneAlarm under the heading of browser hijacking and information tracking. Is ZoneAlarm’s free firewall safe to use?

Mary Martin, Eau Claire, Wis.

 

A: The firewall is safe, but its accessories may not be.

I’m sorry to say that, because I’ve recommended ZoneAlarm’s free firewall for years as an effective, no-nonsense product. Unfortunately, that seems to have changed. When you download the ZoneAlarm firewall, you now also get accessory software that is unnecessary, invasive and could be risky. Your SpyHunter program has correctly identified those add-ons as a potential threat.

Why is ZoneAlarm doing this? To make money, while still calling the firewall “free.” ZoneAlarm’s download page says that you must accept these add-ons because, “This provides advertising revenue that allows us to develop top-rated free security products for you.”

As a result, you can download the ZoneAlarm firewall today only if you agree to let ZoneAlarm become your browser’s home page and if you let the accessory software set “ZoneAlarm Search” as your browser’s default search provider.

The search requirement is potentially dangerous, because you don’t know what kind of information this search engine might offer you. Since its purpose is to make money for ZoneAlarm, will its search results be based on paid listings? Will the Web pages it suggests be safe for you to visit?

Fortunately, this additional software can be eliminated, leaving only the useful ZoneAlarm firewall. For directions see tinyurl.com/pke92xm.

Or you could just uninstall all the ZoneAlarm software and use another free firewall, such as Comodo, TinyWall or Ashampoo (see tinyurl.com/kta2o5m.)

 

Q: I have a zillion slides and prints, and I want to use my Epson Perfection V700 flatbed scanner to store them as digital images for my children and grandchildren. What is the easiest software program I can use to capture the photos and include captions?

Harry Harrington, Baton Rouge, La.

 

A: The software that came with your scanner should work well. If you don’t have that software, download “Scanner Driver and Epson Scan Utility” for your printer at tinyurl.com/mhnpcoy.You can read about techniques for scanning at tinyurl.com/k4rb2k8.

If you need to edit the photos or add captions, you can use software that comes with the scanner, Adobe Photoshop Elements (see a video at tinyurl.com/3kf2zfz.) Or you can find a list of free photo editing programs at tinyurl.com/2gltnv.

 

E-mail tech questions to steve.j.alexander@gmail.com or write to Tech Q&A, 425 ­Portland Av. S., ­Minneapolis, MN 55488. Include name, city and telephone number.

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