Security Hell

Ever have one of those days where a simple task becomes complicate, because of the problems you have to unravel to get to it. My simple task was work on my Observer pattern presentation for the LDNUG meeting on the 31st October. The complications where various tools that are supposed to protect my computer not cripple it.
First of the issues is the simplest: Microsoft Anti-Spyware (MAS). It seems that VS2005 tests don’t interact well with this one as they create a .bat file on the fly to run the tests; a .bat file that MAS decides you must authorize to run. Of course this file is never the same two runs in a row, so you have to authorize it each time. Bad enough in itself, but the test manager in VS 2005 is not happy with the confirmation, and just decides that the tests have failed. To get the tests to run you need to disable the checkpoint on Script Blocking in the Application Agent checkpoints, so that it never happens in the first place. Of course MAS is in beta as is VS 2005 so no real complaints. Another problem occured when I tried toggling this setting on-and-off to check this: once toggled off it shows off, but the next attempt to toggle it on turns it on, and now showing the incorrect setting you cannot toggle it off. Re-installing does seem to correct the settings if you then need to re-enable script blocking, but if you are doing development with VS2005 this looks to be one you are going to have live with being off on your box, for now. Looks like folks at MS know all about this one.
The second was making the mistake of letting my copy of Zone Alarm Pro upgrade to 6.0. If only I had read the forums first. Ouch, no internet access for Ian following that. Now I didn’t do a clean install first, though the program only advised that there would be less issues with a clean install, not ‘just don’t do it’. It took me about an hour to uninstall Zone Alarm after that. Now I could try 6.0 again, as I can certainly do a clean install now, but I don’t have another couple of hours to waste if that is still no go.  While I accept there are going to be beta issues with something like MAS, and it was pretty easier to figure out, Zone Alarm’s problems feel to me like a fairly large clanger to drop via an automated update. I don’t think that any of the issues with Zone Alarm would be easy for my father to fix (he’s my acid test for PC support). Security products like these are so invasive that they have become a real issue when they go wrong. Shutting down somebody’s PC and requiring a manual step uninstall is never going to be good for a consumer oriented product. If you are going to suggest folks download an update through an updater, then make sure it is a solid release. I’m fine with you making a beta available on your site for explicit download, but if it comes via an updater make sure you know it works.
So for now I’m on Windows XP’s built in Firewall. Who knows if I will go back, and that’s bad for Zone Alarm, because I am sure to be not the only one…
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9 Responses to Security Hell

  1. Tom says:

    Yeah, I gave up on Zone Alarm a while back and now use a combination of Windows XP\’s built in firewall and the hardware firewall on my router. Zone Alarm just caused no ends of grief with just about every bit of software under the sun.

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