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Thread: "Program Control" - new version of a program recognized?

  1. #1
    martytx Guest

    Default "Program Control" - new version of a program recognized?

    I'm a new user of ZoneAlarm (the free version).
    So far, one GREAT program, IMHO!
    :8}
    Question: I have several dozen programs set up with outbound protection in the "Program Control" area.
    Does ZoneAlarm
    look only for a specific program name and location on my PC (for example: C:\windows\system32\name.exe), or does it also check the "creation date" and "file size"?
    In other words, if I update a program with a new version, will it still appear on the list of protected programs in "Program Control"?
    Thanks,
    MartyAmarillo, TX

    Operating System:Windows XP Home Edition
    Product Name:ZoneAlarm (Free)
    Software Version:6.5

  2. #2
    critterjoe Guest

    Default Re: "Program Control" - new version of a program recognized?

    <blockquote><hr>MartyTX wrote:
    I'm a new user of ZoneAlarm (the free version). So far, one GREAT program, IMHO! :8}Question: I have several dozen programs set up with outbound protection in the &quot;Program Control&quot; area. Does ZoneAlarm look only for a specific program name and location on my PC (for example: C:\windows\system32\name.exe), or does it also check the &quot;creation date&quot; and &quot;file size&quot;?In other words, if I update a program with a new version, will it still appear on the list of protected programs in &quot;Program Control&quot;?Thanks,MartyAmarillo, TX

    Operating System: Windows XP Home Edition
    Product Name: ZoneAlarm (Free)
    Software Version: 6.5

    <hr></blockquote>


    Hi, Marty:
    I can only speak as a user of the paid version. The way ZA authenticates a program is by using its MD5 (checksum) signature. After a new version of that executable file is updated, and when it next tries to access the internet, ZA will notice that its MD5 signature has changed, and will issue an alert something like &quot;This program has changed since the last time it ran...&quot; In addition to the MD5 signature, ZA also apparently checks the file path/location. (I just tested this by moving an .exe file from one directory to another, and ZA just now inserted it into the program list as a &quot;new&quot; program, causing it to be listed twice.) This makes sense, since most people may have several files named setup.exe for instance in various directories, each one of which will be added to ZA's program control list when run. I don't know if ZA checks the third way you mention (file date and size), but I would *guess* no, since any file size change is going to mess up the MD5 signature which would be detected anyway, and file dates are not fixed in stone, since there are user options to set file dates when copying files, etc. and some users may have their system clock set wrong, so that parameter is too variable I would think.

    Anytime ZA encounters a new executable file it should add it to the program control list, and everything will remain on the program control list unless and until you remove it. Even if you delete the executable file from your PC, the entry in the program list will remain. You can clean up any leftover programs from time to time by right-clicking on its name in the program list and selecting &quot;remove&quot; or by highlighting it and hitting your &quot;delete&quot; button. I do this from time to time since certain installations and updates leave temporary install and setup files in the temp directories, etc. that are no longer on the PC but are still shown in the program control list.

    This next part is a bit off your topic, but if you are a new user, this is some additional info about that program control list. The important thing to remember is that probably no program on your PC will ever need internet SERVER rights. A rare person *might* need it for a particular specialized program for gaming, videoconferencing, or something. But most people will require no checkmark anywhere in that column; in fact it's dangerous since it opens ports and allows that program to &quot;listen&quot;. As for TRUSTED SERVER, most people will only need a checkmark for svchost.exe (General Host Services); some people won't even a checkmark for that, but apparently many do especially if they have trouble with dropped internet connections, etc. Good luck.

    Message Edited by Critterjoe on 01-04-200704:26 PM

    Operating System:Windows XP Home Edition
    Product Name:ZoneAlarm Pro
    Software Version:6.1

  3. #3
    martytx Guest

    Default Re: "Program Control" - new version of a program recognized?

    Hi Critterjoe,
    Thank you very much for the detailed and informative response; I appreciate it.
    I should have guessed that Zone Alarm looks at the checksum, since (as you pointed out) this is a much better approach than size and/or date.
    I learned &quot;the hard way&quot; that ZoneAlarm keeps deleted programs on the control list ... this is a GREAT feature. I snagged a malware
    program in my surfing and fortunately had enough whistles and bells go off from various programs before the malware could do anything. After I deleted it, I was suprised to see it still on the control list, and thought it had replicated itself. After a thorough search, I couldn't find it,
    and was very pleased that ZA didn't delete it from the list. If I happen to snag it again (with the same checksum!), it's good to know that ZA will prevent any mischief from occurring.
    As you indicated, &quot;deadwood&quot; can build up on the control list. Several temporary setup files were on the list, but the actual files were automatically deleted after a successful program installation.
    So, after I install a new program, I've already made it a habit to
    prune the control list of deleted setup files.
    In the free version, the program control page says: &quot;Very few programs require server rights.&quot; I have just 3 on my list, svchost.exe
    and 2 programs from my DSL provider.
    I'm an old hand with PC's; bought my first one in 1981.
    But until my son gave me a few months of DSL as a Christmas gift,
    my only internet experience has been with a dialup modem.
    All I used was Norton Antivirus; no firewall and no spyware detection.
    Now that I've made a quantum leap in the 21st century with high speed, I've added ZA and Spybot to my defenses.

    And, as a final precaution, I create an XP restore point every morning after I log on; also before I install a new program.
    Have been doing this since I got XP and it's saved my bacon on more than one occasion!
    Thanks again for the info and advice ...
    Marty

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