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  1. #1
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    Zero-Knowledge Systems

    My ISP, Sympatico, has jumped into bed with MSN to provide a new package for its client base aligned with the MSN Premium package . The entire offering to cost Cdn$4.95/month for those with a High Speed connection.

    One of the pieces of software in the package is based on Zero-Knowledge System's security package Freedom which includes an anti-virus scanner, firewall, parental control features and a pop-up blocker. The ZKS security software is also offered to clients of Royal Bank of Canada and Telus to name a couple of other high profile companies. So, I have to imagine that the security products has been tested extensively before being offered to their client bases.

    The cost for the MSN Premium service is certainly reasonable, specially when you consider that it can be placed on all PCs in the household while the security package is limited to 3 PCs. Updates to the security package are checked every 3 hours.

    My questions to The Lounge members are: 1) has anyone used the ZKS Freedom software? and 2) if so, what is your experience with the product?

    Cheers, Bob
    Regards,
    Bob

  2. #2
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    Re: Zero-Knowledge Systems

    4.95 /month times number of months used = $$$$

    vs.

    Free-for-personal use firewall, AV, Spyware detector, pop-up blocker, etc. etc. -> $0.00

  3. #3
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    Re: Zero-Knowledge Systems

    Bob

    Somehow I think I'd be just a little wary of an outfit which calls itself <big>Zero-Knowledge</big> Systems... It may be accurate!

    John
    <font face="Script MT Bold"><font color=blue><big><big>John</big></big></font color=blue></font face=script>

    Ita, esto, quidcumque...

  4. #4
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    Re: Zero-Knowledge Systems

    I know nothing about ZKS but I'd be cautious about your assumption that because software is being offered to a bank's customers that it's been thoroughly tested for security.

    I have a business account at a bank which offers online access. I like online access & have it with a number of personal accounts, so I signed up for it. Turned out that I couldn't access it-one of the menus didn't pop up. When I contacted the bank I was told that it works just fine in Internet Explorer...

    Obviously not designed with security in mind, was it?

  5. #5
    Super Moderator jscher2000's Avatar
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    Re: Zero-Knowledge Systems

    If I recall correctly, the name described a service which allowed you to use the Internet anonymously. In other words "zero knowledge" of you. <img src=/S/smile.gif border=0 alt=smile width=15 height=15> Not sure about them morphing into a security software company, I just haven't paid any attention.

  6. #6
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    Re: Zero-Knowledge Systems

    It is not uncommon for banks, and other commercial organizations, to design their products on such a basis. Although Mozilla usage has nearly doubled this year, IE still accounts for over 70% of browser usage on the web, and that's what they end up catering to. Usually they don't make their site modifications backward compatible either, so they expect users to update in accordance with them.

    As you say, just because it comes from a bank doesn't mean it's "good". A certain Australian bank (which will remain nameless) went live with its product too early, to try to keep up with or a jump ahead of the opposition, and nearly went belly-up as a result.

    Alan

  7. #7
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    Re: Zero-Knowledge Systems Update

    First, thanks to all who responded. It would appear that there is little knowledge of the ZKS product line.

    <font color=blue>To Jim Helfer:</font color=blue> My choice is always to pay for products I use. My assumption, and sometimes faulty, is that one gets, or should get, better service and features for a paid subscription. <img src=/S/smile.gif border=0 alt=smile width=15 height=15>

    <font color=blue>To JohnGray:</font color=blue> I think Jefferson had the right concept when he stated "If I recall correctly, the name described a service which allowed you to use the Internet anonymously. In other words "zero knowledge" of you.". ZKS did start in that end of the business and moved from that line to other security products about 3 years ago.

    <font color=blue>To Calvin and Alan:</font color=blue> My reference to the bank was not that they had developed the software but that they were offering a security package produced by another company as a lure to sign up for bank services.

    Here's an update on the action I took:

    1) I did sign up for Sympatico / MSN's offering of the Premium services for Cdn$4.95/month.

    2) I installed the software package on my desktop and found that two components of the package, NetAssistant (Sympatico's) and Visual IP Insight (also Sympatico's), both related to monitoring connection services did not like working in my environment and caused problems under Windows XP Pro with SP2. Both had to be uninstalled in order to revert to a stable environment.

    3) The migration of the family's 5 Sympatico e-mail accounts only moved three of the accounts leaving the other two in cyberspace. Of the three that were moved, only the prime account had all the settings intact. The secondary accounts were missing many attributes and had to be reset through telephone support (2 e-mails and 3 phone calls to their tech support). For the 2 accounts lost in cyberspace... that is where they reside and Sympatico is trying to determine how to retrieve them. First reported 48 hours ago and still not resolved.

    4) One of the features of the Premium service was to increase the client account storage capacity to 2GB with a maximum of 20mb attachment to any given message to the primary account and a maximum of 10mb to any secondary account. Turns out they haven't turned on those features... at least as of a couple of hours ago.

    5) Discovered that the Freedom AV scanner only scans incoming e-mail for critters... no outbound service.

    6) Found a review of Freedom's AV scanner circa 2003 indicating that if the scanner caught a virus and if the settings were set to delete the virus laden file(s) that it also had a nasty glitch of deleting files that were not ineffected.

    Summary: I cancelled my subscription as it is evident to me that the Premium services offered by Sympatico / MSN are not ready for prime time. Norton and Zone Alarm Pro are back protecting my environment.

    As stated... just a update, and thanks again to those who provided comments.

    Cheers, Bob
    Regards,
    Bob

  8. #8
    Super Moderator jscher2000's Avatar
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    Re: Zero-Knowledge Systems Update

    Thanks, Bob, for sharing your ordeal, and good luck getting all your accounts back. Maybe someone will make a guinea pig smiley for you to add to your signature. <img src=/S/smile.gif border=0 alt=smile width=15 height=15>

  9. #9
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    Re: Zero-Knowledge Systems

    The Zero Knowledge Systems firewall came with my stepfather's HP 502N a couple of years ago. In setting up the machine for him, I tried it for a couple of days, and found it to be, basically, useless. Granted, they've probably improved it since then, but I'm not willing to try it again. Currently, my stepfather is using ZoneAlarm 4.5 (free version), and hasn't had any problems. It's not allowed to update itself to version 5, which has shown itself to be quite bug-ridden. Anyway, my opinion of Zero Knowledge Systems is that the firewall should be avoided, unless they've improved it considerably, to the point where it's a better program than ZoneAlarm.

  10. #10
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    Re: Zero-Knowledge Systems

    I have to interject here that not everyone has problems with ZoneAlarm 5.x. I run it quite happily on my WinXP Pro laptop and have had zero problems, but I use something other than the Norton AntiVirus, which seems to be the thing that has the most conflicts with ZoneAlarm.
    Charlotte

  11. #11
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    Re: Zero-Knowledge Systems

    Charlotte,
    You are quite correct in that most users who have problems with ZA and ZAP 5x are using some incarnation of Norton Antivirus. I am not, however, and have tried using ZAP 5x (original and updated versions) with CA's Easy Armor Antivirus (updated version), as well as with AVG and Avast!. ZAP 5 has proven unreliable when used with all three antivirus programs, both on patched versions of XP Pro SP1 and SP2, as well as XP Home SP1 and SP2. Reverting to ZAP 4.5 and ZA 4.5 (free) solved all of the problems I've had, in all cases. There were quite a few posts on the Zone Labs forums regarding users who were dissatisfied with version 5; the concensus seemed to be to revert to 4.5, and problems seem to vanish. I'm glad version 5 is working for you. I just wish it worked well on my systems. I am advising my customers (at this point in time) to avoid version 5, if possible, since many of them do use Norton A/V or the free version of CA that Microsoft dispensed with their February Security Roll-Up CD. Again, I'm glad it's working for you, but , in a variety of circumstances, it didn't work well for me. I can't, in good conscience, advise anyone to use something that doesn't seem to work well.

  12. #12
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    Re: Zero-Knowledge Systems

    As noted several times here in the Lounge, ZoneAlarm 5.1.011.00 and later are SP2 complainant and work VERY well with Norton's AV. The current version 5.1.033.000 is running on 8 machines that I have access to and all are running NAV 2004 or 2005 with NO problems.

    Yes there was problems with the first release of ZA 5.1.000.000, not only NAV but several others and there was also some "Checkdisk" issues. But all have been corrected with the 5.1.011.00 version.

    Now running HP Pavilion a6528p, with Win7 64 Bit OS.

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