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plugin-container.exe - Why still run even if blocked in ZA?

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bloomcounty
 
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Post Posted July 4th, 2010, 6:37 pm

So I read some posts here regarding plugin-container.exe and have some questions...

What I don't get is, even though I've blocked it in ZoneAlarm (old version, 6.1.744.001), it still runs (I see it listed in Task Manager under processes) and Flash items still work in Firefox on websites (as far as I can tell -- I'm on dial-up, so it takes awhile for things to load).

So I'm guessing, it's still doing what it needs to, but it's just not connecting to the internet since I have it blocked?

But I do see in ZoneAlarm that it is trying to connect to the internet and gets blocked (since I have it set to be blocked).

And I just tested Hulu, and the player wouldn't load (though it might be because I'm on dial-up?). But the flash banners on the Adobe site work okay. And YouTube videos play. So maybe it doesn't need to connect?

Do I actually need to allow it to connect to the internet? If so, why? And what should be checked in ZoneAlarm? (Firefox itself has two green check marks.)

However, I do notice that things tend to freeze up for about 20 seconds or so (all tabs, sites) in Firefox when Flash stuff is loading. But I don't think that has anything to do with blocking plugin-container.exe's access to the internet? (If that was problematic, Flash wouldn't work at all, right?)

Any thoughts? (I just installed the new version of Flash, fyi.)

Thanks!

Bluefang

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Post Posted July 4th, 2010, 8:05 pm

Do I actually need to allow it to connect to the internet? If so, why?

If you ever run into Flash content that is broken or doesn't load, then probably yes.

And what should be checked in ZoneAlarm? (Firefox itself has two green check marks.)

Have it match whatever Firefox is set to.

However, I do notice that things tend to freeze up for about 20 seconds or so (all tabs, sites) in Firefox when Flash stuff is loading.

Try disabling Flash hardware acceleration

LoudNoise wrote:1) Start a flash movie
2) Right click on the video
3) Click on the tab that shows the monitor with the eye in it.
4) Uncheck Hardware acceleration
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patrickjdempsey

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Post Posted July 4th, 2010, 9:05 pm

When you block programs in ZA from accessing the internet they will always still appear in the Task Manager. ZA doesn't kill processes, just their internet access. Are you sure the ads you are seeing are flash and not just animated GIF's?
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bloomcounty
 
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Post Posted July 5th, 2010, 7:28 am

Thanks for the replies!

Bluefang wrote:
Try disabling Flash hardware acceleration

LoudNoise wrote:1) Start a flash movie
2) Right click on the video
3) Click on the tab that shows the monitor with the eye in it.
4) Uncheck Hardware acceleration


Okay, I did this. I'll keep on eye on whether or not things freeze up again.

What does it do (having it on vs. having it off)?

Any "security issues" to consider with either setting?

(Also, I believe it's the tab with the "play" symbol on it, not with the eye on it -- just a heads up!)

patrickjdempsey wrote:When you block programs in ZA from accessing the internet they will always still appear in the Task Manager. ZA doesn't kill processes, just their internet access. Are you sure the ads you are seeing are flash and not just animated GIF's?


I can see the flash content (I believe it's flash content) here:
http://www.adobe.com/software/flash/about/

And I can see the the moving content at the top of the page here:
http://www.hulu.com
(though the player still won't load when I click to play something)

I'm going to allow plugin-container.exe in ZA (two green checkmarks like Firefox) and restart Firefox and see if the Hulu player will load (to determine whether or not it not loading has to do with dial-up speed or allowing plugin-container.exe to access the internet). Stand by...

bloomcounty
 
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Post Posted July 5th, 2010, 8:45 am

Okay, it's hard to tell with dial-up, but it looks like maybe the player on Hulu won't load unless plugin-container.exe is allowed. I did get it to load one time I had that set to allow in ZA. But when I changed it to "ask" and tried loading it, it didn't ask -- and it didn't load. When it doesn't load on the Hulu site, it says "check your internet connection". I'll probably have to test on a wifi connection to be sure. But YouTube and the Flash test page both work. Any further thoughts? Thanks!

Vectorspace
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Post Posted July 5th, 2010, 9:50 am

I could be wrong, but it might depend on how the Flash player accesses the web.

Perhaps the Youtube player gets Firefox itself to download the video file, so plugin-container.exe does not need to access the web.
And perhaps the Hulu player downloads the video file directly, requiring plugin-container.exe to be able to access the web.
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Bluefang

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Post Posted July 5th, 2010, 9:59 am

Okay, it's hard to tell with dial-up, but it looks like maybe the player on Hulu won't load unless plugin-container.exe is allowed.

That's pretty consistent with what other people have experienced.

Remember, it's not the plugin-container.exe that's accessing the internet, it's the plugin running inside of it. Before the plugin-container.exe, when plugins ran directly inside of Firefox, they had permission to access the internet because Firefox did. This is why you never saw this behavior before.
There have always been ghosts in the machine... random segments of code that have grouped together to form unexpected protocols. Unanticipated, these free radicals engender questions of free will, creativity, and even the nature of what we might call the soul...

bloomcounty
 
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Post Posted July 5th, 2010, 10:42 am

Vectorspace wrote:I could be wrong, but it might depend on how the Flash player accesses the web.

Perhaps the Youtube player gets Firefox itself to download the video file, so plugin-container.exe does not need to access the web.
And perhaps the Hulu player downloads the video file directly, requiring plugin-container.exe to be able to access the web.


That makes sense!

Bluefang wrote:That's pretty consistent with what other people have experienced.

Remember, it's not the plugin-container.exe that's accessing the internet, it's the plugin running inside of it. Before the plugin-container.exe, when plugins ran directly inside of Firefox, they had permission to access the internet because Firefox did. This is why you never saw this behavior before.


So I guess I could set it to "ask" and when I go to Hulu allow it to connect? (Unless of course, that doesn't work, then I suppose I'd just need to allow it with two green checkmarks like Firefox is.)

It would only be connecting to Hulu and nothing else, right? (Probably unwarranted concern on my part, but it makes me a little nervous allowing it to connect to anything -- though from what you're saying, that's what it was allowed to do when it was part of Firefox before, right? "It" being the plugin. It's too bad they called it an .exe, which makes it seem like some program is running...)

Thanks!

Vectorspace
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Post Posted July 5th, 2010, 10:43 pm

Allowing plugin-container.exe full access to the internet is no more or less safe than allowing the pre-plugin-container versions of Firefox full access.

Before plugin-container.exe, plugins had full access to the internet through Firefox.
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patrickjdempsey

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Post Posted July 5th, 2010, 11:19 pm

Exactly. Plugin-container is just the Firefox plugin running in a separate process. That's it.
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bloomcounty
 
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Post Posted July 6th, 2010, 8:42 am

Okey-doke -- thanks!

bloomcounty
 
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Post Posted July 23rd, 2010, 4:19 am

So I tested this, and it doesn't seem like it needs access to the internet in ZA for Hulu either (it shows as blocked in my log, but I could watch stuff on Hulu). I wonder what it asks for access for then, if it actually doesn't need it for things to work? What's it actually doing? Any thoughts? Just wondering... :) Thanks!

patrickjdempsey

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Post Posted July 23rd, 2010, 4:25 am

bloomcounty wrote:So I tested this, and it doesn't seem like it needs access to the internet in ZA for Hulu either (it shows as blocked in my log, but I could watch stuff on Hulu). I wonder what it asks for access for then, if it actually doesn't need it for things to work? What's it actually doing? Any thoughts? Just wondering... :) Thanks!


Maybe it's accessing the internet without permissiong from ZoneAlarm.... meaning ZoneAlarm is useless. It wouldn't be the first time that software was dicsovered to be useless.
Tip of the day: If it has "toolbar" in the name, it's crap.
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bloomcounty
 
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Post Posted July 23rd, 2010, 5:00 am

patrickjdempsey wrote:Maybe it's accessing the internet without permissiong from ZoneAlarm.... meaning ZoneAlarm is useless. It wouldn't be the first time that software was dicsovered to be useless.


I suppose (it is an old version). But I know for a fact it blocks other programs that it's set to. I guess there's no way to tell if you can't trust the log. (Or there probably is, but it's beyond my knowledge.)

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Post Posted July 23rd, 2010, 7:21 pm

patrickjdempsey wrote:Maybe it's accessing the internet without permissiong from ZoneAlarm.... meaning ZoneAlarm is useless. It wouldn't be the first time that software was dicsovered to be useless.


I use ZA (7.0.337 free) & before I decided to give container.exe permanent permission to access the Internet, I would be prompted, but if I withheld permission, container.exe didn't get out.
"Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." -- Ben Franklin

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