So, yesterday I got an email from some one that said I had sent them
an infected file. Did not know the person and had not sent them anything
but decided to be better safe than sorry and grab the latest version of
McAfee from their online shop and scan my system with their latest
virus definitions file. "Klez" seems to be very active these days, it
has infected 7% of all PC's at the moment.
The purchase went fine, but it went downhill from there at a very rapid
clip. The system I have at home is a Dell Dual CPU, with an always-on
cable modem. And about a million or so people have my email address so
I need to protect this box carefully. My security defense-layers have
been BlackICE and ZoneAlarm up to now. The combo of these has always
done an excellent job of keeping stuff out and "from going out" too.
I had religiously kept up with all the hotfixes for W2K, and I was also
running a virus scanner but that was getting a bit dated and thought
I'd better get the latest of the greatest. The result?
It wasn't broke. I fixed it. Then it was.
The install plunked both the virus protection and the McAfee Firewall
on my box. I had not specifically asked for that, but it did it anyway.
Then started asking questions about which applications I wanted to have
access to the Internet. That was not what I wanted but there was no
way to get around it. After trying cancel and escape for a few times it
seemed that the firewall thing had gone away and the virus scan finally
kicked in. 20 minutes of scanning came up with absolutely zip. Nothing
found and nothing quarantined. Bummer. I had hoped for some juicy virus
I could "search and destroy".
But then, exiting McAfee, everything froze. START button did not work
anymore. The three finger salute was even useless. And then to think
I had run that machine for two years without a hitch! Tried a hard reset.
It booted but after logon froze up again, repeatedly. Obviously a conflict
between the firewalls because BlackICE started to end-task abnormally
during the logoffs. Since the power button is controlled by W2K which
had stopped working I twice had to pull the power plug to get it to
reboot. After 5 or so attempts I was able to get back in my normal
profile, but things still froze pretty much immediately afterward.
Then I smarted up. McAfee plugs a small icon in the tray. Right clicking
on that immediately during the startup allowed me to shut it off before
some of the other services were started and I finally was able to get
through the boot procedure without freezing everything up. And of course
you guess what I did next. Control Panel. Add/Remove Software, and a
fast as lightning uninstall of everything McAfee. After half an hour
of booting and trial and error: Presto! System back up and performing
The upshot? Firewalls are not your normal application. They go deep into
the systems and take control of resources which they then refuse to let
go. These products should check for each other's existence and warn the
unsuspecting end-user that it might completely trash their box if they
install tools that are incompatible with each other.
Quote Of The Day: Learn from the mistakes of others. You can't live long
enough to make them all yourself.
UNDO DEPT: .NET Server will arrive second half this year anyway. The
Latam Marketing guy got it wrong and apologized to half the world last
Note: During the summer months, we're going to a once-per-week schedule
with W2Knews. Things are usually a bit lighter and we can cram everything
in one issue. Saves all of us time and bandwidth! I may send a special
issue now and then when we find a cool tool or a super important event
(email me with feedback: [email protected])