CA anti-virus breaks Windows

July 10, 2009 | 15:12

Tags: #cygwin #flaw #glitch #virus #windows-xp

Companies: #computer-associates

Computer Associates found itself with some unhappy customers yesterday after a glitch in their virus definitions blacklisted a series of Windows XP system files.

As reported over on CNet, the files – mostly releated to Windows XP Service Pack 3 – were automatically quarantined by the company's anti-virus software after mistakenly being diagnosed with the Win32/AMalum.ZZQIA virus.

It wasn't just files from Microsoft either: certain parts of the popular Cygwin Linux-style environment, often used by programmers and other techie types to implement functionality present in Linux but missing from Windows, were also quarantined.

This resulted in the files disappearing, seemingly deleted – and programs that rely on their presence refusing to work. While the files weren't actually deleted – by default, the CA anti-virus package renames the files' extensions to .AVB in order to prevent their execution – it proved to be a pain for many customers, who vented their anger on the company's official forum.

Users of CA Internet Security Suite are advised to update to version 6606 of the virus signature database before using the GUI to release the affected files from quarantine, while corporate users with CA Threat Manager are asked to manually find all files with a .AVB extension and rename them.

So far Computer Associates has given no indication of how the definitions got through testing with such a major error, nor made any offer of restitution to its irate users beyond an automated file rename utility which is available via the company's customer service department.

Should Computer Associates be offering some kind of gesture to the customers affected by this mistake, or has the company already lost too much goodwill to make the effort worth its while? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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