I woke up this morning and groggily turned on the computer. When I couldn't access the internet I started to really wake up and wonder what was going on. I checked all of the settings in Zone Alarm, and nothing really stood out at me. I hadn't changed anything, so I was puzzled what was amiss.
Then I remembered, I had downloaded and installed two updates from Microsofts auto-update last night. And I remember reading about a potential conflict with Zone Alarm products on computers running XP. Thankfully, I had a linux machine available so that I could surf to the solution.
Here is Zone Alarm's notice on the issue.
The only thing that (really) bothers me about the problem this morning is that I'm a registered customer of Zone Alarm. I really like and heavily endorse their products. When I am at a client's site, and they have no firewall protection, I immediately recommend Zone Alarm because of the things it does. After making the changes and thinking about the situation, I'm surprised that Zone Alarm didn't send a quick email to registered customers who checked off that they want to receive these kinds of notifications. I know I receive these notes.
Anyway, I was able to recover quickly. There are a couple of solutions:
1. Download and run the latests version of the firewall you're using.
2. Move the internet zone slider to Medium.
3. Uninstall the hotfix from Microsoft.
I performed option three, but I'm going upgrade the firewall, then re-install the hotfix.