Fix for MS Update KB951748 and ZoneAlarm

ZoneAlarm Pro version 7.0.483.000
The new version of ZoneAlarm Pro (version 7.0.483.000) now resides happily alongside Microsoft Update KB951748.

I wasn’t online last night otherwise I’d have seen the HUGE number of comments on my last post about the merry dance that the latest Microsoft Update KB951748 caused for ZoneAlarm users: Microsoft Update KB951748 and ZoneAlarm woes. Thanks for all your comments, folks.

Before I go any further, a big hand to the boffins at Check Point, the company who develop ZoneAlarm for their swift action in fixing the issue caused by this recent Windows Update.

ZoneAlarm Update now available

When I switched on my PC this morning I was presented with a ZoneAlarm update notification:

ZoneAlarm Pro Service Agent window

which had a very clear indication why this update was necessary:

A criticial ZoneAlarm Security Update is now available. This update is required to resolve a problem with the Microsoft Update KB951748, which may cause loss of internet access for ZoneAlarm users on Windows 2000 and XP.

You can also download the update manually from the ZoneAlarm website. The update is available for these products:

  • ZoneAlarm Internet Security Suite
  • ZoneAlarm Pro
  • ZoneAlarm Antivirus
  • ZoneAlarm Anti-Spyware
  • ZoneAlarm Basic Firewall

Once installed you will be required to reboot your PC or laptop. I’d recommend that you save your work and close down any applications while you install the update, listen to some soothing music and make yourself a nice cup of tea.

Now install Windows Update KB951748

With Windows happily rebooted it’s now time to install (or re-install) Microsoft Update KB951748. If you’ve not instructed Windows Update to ignore that particular update (which I did, and more on that in a moment) then the little yellow shield will soon appear in the notification area (next to the clock) and likely either go ahead and install the update or prompt you to install, depending on your Automatic Updates settings.

For me, the update didn’t require a reboot.

Windows Automatic Updates

PeterS made a good point in his comment on the last post:

You probably have Windows Updates set to download updates automatically in the background, when you are online. So after you have uninstalled KB951748, Windows will automatically download and reinstall KB951748 again quietly in the background so when you next reboot your PC you won’t be able to go online again.

His recommendation was to switch Automatic Updates from Automatic to “Notify me but don’t automatically download or install them”.

This is actually something that I do every time I reinstall Windows XP, or set-up a new pre-installed machine. I’ve been caught out too many times by Microsoft Updates screwing up either my internet connection or Microsoft Outlook.

Here’s how:

  1. Open Control Panel
    Go to the Start menu and click on Control Panel — it’s in the coloured bar on the right (assuming you’re using the standard Windows XP theme, rather than the Classic Windows 2000 look).
  2. Classic View
    The Control Panel will open in a new window. If you don’t have the Classic View (as shown in the screenshot below) then select “Switch to Classic View” in the panel on the left — I’ve highlighted this area in yellow below. When you do this you’ll see a window-full of icons.
  3. Automatic Updates
    Double-click on the Automatic Updates icon — I’ve highlighted this in green below. It looks like a globe with the Windows logo above it.

Windows XP Control Panel

  1. Offer hidden updates (optional)
    Automatic Updates will open in a new window. Now, if you previously instructed Windows Update to hide KB951748 you can instruct the updater to “Offer updates again that [you’ve] previously hidden” by clicking on the link at the bottom — highlighted in yellow below. (The option will be greyed-out if it’s not available.)
  2. Notify me
    At PeterS said, you will likely have the radio-button dot against “Automatic (recommended)”, indicating that it is the option selected.

    Instead, click on the radio button beside “Notify me but don’t automatically download or install them“.

    Don’t worry, you’re not switching off Automatic Updates, just asking Windows to inform when they are available and what they are — that gives you the opportunity to look them up before you agree to install them.

Automatic Updates

  1. Click OK to set this option. The Automatic Updates window will also close.
  2. Close Control Panel (by clicking on the red X in the top-right corner).
  3. If you’ve not already installed Microsoft Update KB951748, Automatic Updates will soon notify you to install the update.

I hope that’s useful to some folks.

I hope so because it’s just taken me an hour to write this up! Screenshots, by the way, were taken using TechSmith SnagIt 9.

Microsoft Update KB951748 and ZoneAlarm woes

ZoneAlarm

Update: There is now a fix for this issue, see my blog post: Fix for MS Update KB951748 and ZoneAlarm.

Well, that was a quick break from blogging! Actually, it was my experience with Windows Update and the ZoneAlarm firewall today that’s brought me out from my self-imposed blogging exile this week.

I’ll cut to the chase: ZoneAlarm + Security update for Windows (KB951748) = no internet connection.

This is how ZoneAlarm themselves put it:

Microsoft Update KB951748 is known to cause loss of internet access for ZoneAlarm users.

The problem

Basically, this software update is designed to fix vulnerabilities when you’re surfing the Web. It updates a handful of files that are associated with connecting to the internet, including a few to do with TCP/IP which is one of the standard ways that computers can connect to the internet and one another.

Or, here’s how Microsoft put it in Microsoft Security Bulletin MS08-037:

This security update resolves two privately reported vulnerabilities in the Windows Domain Name System (DNS) that could allow spoofing. These vulnerabilities exist in both the DNS client and DNS server and could allow a remote attacker to redirect network traffic intended for systems on the Internet to the attacker’s own systems.

And somehow this update has confused the ZoneAlarm firewall into preventing any connection to the Web. Well, not strictly any connection as I could still ping sites, but that quickly gets tiresome.

That’s a bit like wanting to go shopping, but not being allowed out of the house, so instead you just phone round the shops you wanted to visit to find out if they are open.

Workarounds

ZoneAlarm offer three workarounds:

  1. Uninstall the hotfix (recommended)
  2. Add your DNS servers to the trusted zone in ZoneAlarm (advanced)
  3. Reduce Internet Zone Security level to Medium (not recommended)

Uninstalling KB951748

I wasn’t going to try #3 (although I tested it and it does work); I tried #2 … it didn’t work; so I was left with no option but to uninstall the so-called security fix.

  1. Click the “Start Menu”
  2. Click “Control Panel”, or click “Settings” then “Control Panel”
  3. Click on “Add or Remove Programs”
  4. On the top of the add/remove programs dialog box, you should see a checkbox that says “show updates”. Select this checkbox
  5. Scroll down until you see “Security update for Windows (KB951748)”
  6. Click “Remove” to uninstall the hotfix

Hopefully ZoneAlarm will have a fix soon. I just checked the ZoneAlarm forums and funnily enough it looks quite popular today: “There are currently 132 members online and 22375 guests”.

Still, if you have installed KB951748 — a number that I think I’m now going to see in my sleep tonight; and I’ve been having enough weird dreams this week — and have ZoneAlarm installed, and have rebooted your PC, and you can’t connect to the internet … I do hope you can somehow download this information telepathically.

Such is the irony that the internet contains a whole load of information about how to fix internet connection problems … if only you could connect to it to read that information. There’s a hole in my bucket … !

ZoneAlarm + KB951748 = no connection

Update #2

I meant to update this earlier.  There is now a fix, which you should download from the ZoneAlarm website.

Original post

For those of you that didn’t see this at the other place: Microsoft Update KB951748 and ZoneAlarm woes

In short: ZoneAlarm + Security update for Windows (KB951748) = no internet connection.

Update 1

For those folks who don’t bother clicking through to my other blog post: the advice from ZoneAlarm is to uninstall the KB951748 hotfix until there is a more robust solution from either Microsoft or ZoneAlarm.

Setting your Internet Security level to Medium isn’t advised for long-term use — it opens your PC up to more risks than it’s worth.

Or just uninstall ZoneAlarm and use the Windows XP built-in firewall.

Why did my webcam have to install its software twice?!

I just installed the drivers and software for my new webcam, the infeasibly long-titled Creative Live! Cam Video IM Pro.

Here’s what happened:

  1. I inserted the CD-ROM
  2. Ran the installation application
  3. Selected to install everything
  4. Waited while everything installed – having to say YES to my ZoneAlarm firewall about every 20 seconds!
  5. Reboot
  6. Online registration ran automatically upon restarting. So I filled it in and submitted it, like the good customer I am
  7. Software updater ran, and found updates. I said YES to updates
  8. It then proceeded to UNINSTALL almost all the software I’d just installed (see steps 1-4) and REINSTALL the latest updates of these applications and drivers
  9. Reboot

Now, would it not have been better if the installer had checked online first to see if there was a more recent version of the software and installed that? And if there wasn’t, or an internet connection could not be established, to fall back on the option of installing the version on the CD-ROM?