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01/25/2006 Archived Entry: "Zone Alarm phones home"

Windows users: I'm sure you've heard by now that there's a new virus circulating, which will delete your documents on February 3rd. Now would be an excellent time to update your anti-virus signatures, if you haven't been doing so regularly.

And lest the Linux users start feeling superior, note that the popular KDE system has a JavaScript bug which affects the Konqueror web browser. Time to update your packages.

This is probably an opportune moment for me to recommend this excellent article from The Register, on the benefits of a multi-layered defense...and why the last line of defense is an alert user.

Alas, quis custodiet ipsos custodes? I thank L.W. for passing on this item, about how the Zone Alarm firewall "phones home" with data about your activities. You can block this by a simple edit to your hosts file...but I don't think I'll be recommending Zone Alarm in the future.

This, unfortunately, is the risk you run whenever you install software written by someone else. The best way I know to mitigate this risk is to have all of the source code, and all of the development, out in the open. For closed-source code, we can only rely upon the diligence of independent security experts and the tech media.


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