General discussion

Windows Firewall Problem

Hi Moderators,

My o/s is as follows: -

OS Name Microsoft Windows XP Professional
Version 5.1.2600 Service Pack 2 Build 2600
OS Manufacturer Microsoft Corporation
System Name SMARTY
System Manufacturer ECS
System Model M825VXX
System Type X86-based PC
Processor x86 Family 6 Model 8 Stepping 1 AuthenticAMD ~1200 Mhz
BIOS Version/Date American Megatrends Inc. 07.00T, 4/2/2001
SMBIOS Version 2.3
Windows Directory C:\WINDOWS
System Directory C:\WINDOWS\system32
Boot Device \Device\HarddiskVolume1
Locale United States
Hardware Abstraction Layer Version = "5.1.2600.2180 (xpsp_sp2_rtm.040803-2158)"
User Name SMARTY\Administrator
Time Zone SA Western Standard Time
Total Physical Memory 384.00 MB
Available Physical Memory 140.73 MB
Total Virtual Memory 2.00 GB
Available Virtual Memory 1.96 GB
Page File Space 470.64 MB
Page File C:\pagefile.sys

I opened Outlook Express and saw e-Mail an acdsee newletter of which I am a subscriber. I attempted to open the same when I got Windows Security warning, "your System may be at risk. No firewall is enabled" I immediately got a warning from Avast, "Caution a virus has been detected". This occurred many times before I was able to shut down.

After restart the firewall kept on cutting off and when I tried to view the settings I got message "We are sorry due to some unidentifies problem Windows cannot open firewall settings".

I resorted to System Restore and that seems to have rectified the problem. I however do not trust it. I have been considering for some time to use a standalone firewall. I have heard of Zone Alarm. I however do not understand firewalls except that Windown Firewall only blocks what comes in but not what goes out.

Can you advise me as to the best personal firewall to use that will not conflict with Windows Firewall?

I would like to read Grif's thoughts on this subject.

Thanking you in advance.


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Have You Run A Full System Scan Since The Problem?

At this point, I would do two things, just to make sure the machine is free from the virus.. First, I would run a full system scan with your Avast program. Next, to get a second or third opinion, I would run one of the online scans from the links below:

Housecall Online Scanner

Panda Online Scanner

If everything comes up clean, then we'll move on to the firewall question..First, you need to understand the problem you just had has nothing to do with your firewall. Since you opened the mail, then it's YOU that allowed the "possible" virus to have enabled itself. Since you allowed Outlook Express to have access to the internet to download you mail, no firewall would have prevented the issue from occuring.. A good virus scanner or other e-mail scanner plus caution when dealing with e-mail messages are the best preventative measures when dealing with such issues.

That said, even the Windows XP firewall can be configured to prevent outgoing attempts.. (It's not as easy to do so as with other firewalls such as ZA, etc. but it can be done.) Whichever firewall you use, it WILL conflict with the Windows XP firewall UNLESS you disable the XP firewall. It's not hard to do but it is important to verify that only one is operational.

My preference it ZoneAlarm as I've had very few problems with it, but some prefer others such as the one below:



Hope this helps.


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Have you ran a full system scan since the problem?

Hi Grif,

Grateful for you reply. I did Avast,Xoftspy, and Adaware scans an found nothing. I did two online scans with the first of your recommendations and found a host of infected files which were subsequently removed.

I have yet to see how the system functions as I have only just completed the last scan with the results that the system is free of infection.

I well appreciate that by opening that e-mail I invited them in. I did not expect that from a trusted site like acdsee.

With respect to the firewall thanks for the advice. One thing though. I read user reviews from Cnet that Zone Alarm can be annoying.

I shall be obliged if you can advise me on the best settings for the same as I may want to disable the Windows firewall in order to use the same.

Meanwhile everything seems to be alright and I hereby express my heartfelt thanks to you for your kind responses.


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ZoneAlarm Settings...

Only you can decide which firewall is best for you and whether ZoneAlarm is "annoying". Generally, ZA can be run in its "default" state.. At the very beginning, each time you open a program that attempts to access the internet (Internet Explorer, OUtlook Express, Avast updates, etc.), an alert box will ask you to allow" or "disallow" access for the program. For those programs which you are familiar, choose to "Allow" and place a CHECK mark in the "Remember this setting". You'll also see a few which you aren't familiar with should also be given full access such as "Generic Host Process", "Run DLL as an App", and possbily a few others. If you have any questions about some of those "allow/disallow" decision, check on Google or post back here on the forums.

There's no need to disable the Windows Firewall till AFTER you've installed ZoneAlarm. ZoneAlarm generally disables the Windows Firewall automatically during the installation, but verify it by opening the Control Panel/Windows Firewall icon and make sure the OFF option is selected.

Hope this helps.


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Zone Alarm Settings.

Hello Grif.

Compliments to you. Thanks for you reply. My interest in Zone Alarm came after reading some of the other posts. I see that it is very popular with most members in the forum and with moderators. I now recall that I had a security program from Windows that was similar to Zone Alarm some time ago.

Although I like Windows Firewall, after your explanation I am now more minded to go with Zone Alarm.

I will try it and if not satisfied which is doubtful I will keep it.

Thanks you again for your much valued advice and God Bless.


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Good advice.

In addition to Grif's excellent advice can I add that I noticed you said you used XoftSpy anti-spyware.

Some time ago the XoftSpy program was listed in the Spyware Warrior's list of ''Rogue'' anti-spyware applications as suspect. Spyware Warrior have now de-listed XoftSpy, and I have included below what Spyware Warrior now says of XoftSpy;

''Note on XoftSpy: XoftSpy was listed on this page because of concerns with false positives (1, 2, 3, 4), questionable license terms, and the use of aggressive, deceptive advertising (1, 2), including exploitation of the name ''spybot'' by affiliates. Earlier versions of XoftSpy were also Ad-aware knockoffs. (There was clone of XoftSpy named SpyBurn, but that application is no longer available.)

Over the past few months, XoftSpy has taken aggressive steps to reign in its affiliates (who were primarily responsible for the unsavory advertising), revised its license text, and released a new version of XoftSpy (version 4.0) that addresses our concerns with false positves. Given these changes we can no longer regard XoftSpy as ''rogue/suspect'' anti-spyware.

It may be that you have a newer version of XoftSpy which is ok, but if you have an older version, it may be a suspect application.

I would, in any case, tend not to use an application that has once been listed as rogue.

The Spyware Warrior's site is;


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Good Advice

Hi Mark,

Grateful for your thread. It was very interesting. I read all of it. Never knew Xoftspy was on the rogue list. Did'nt know there was a rogue list.

I have the latest version of Xoftspy. Seems to work well. I had my doubts about that program because I noticed It has never been mentioned in this forum or anywhere else.

Good advice. I shall be looking for another security program.

Thanks again.


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You have Ad-Aware, which is a good start.

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