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MSE false positive detection forces Google to update Chrome

Faulty antivirus blocks web browser
Mon Oct 03 2011, 12:13

INTERNET GIANT Google has been forced to update its Chrome web browser after Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) started wrongfully detecting it as malware.

The false positive incident happened on Friday and involved Microsoft's security product alerting users that chrome.exe is a banking trojan from the Zeus family of malware and recommending its removal.

Users who acted on the program's recommendation and removed the threat found themselves no longer able to use the web browser. Many of them flocked to Google's Chrome support forum to report the problem.

According to a statement from Microsoft's Malware Protection Center, around 3,000 users were impacted by the faulty definition and ended up with the Chrome browser blocked or removed.

Microsoft released a signature update to address the error in a matter of hours, but Google decided that it couldn't rely on MSE users to deploy it and pushed out its own fix.

It's worth pointing out that unlike other web browsers, Google's Chrome is updated by an independent service that keeps on running even when the main browser process is closed.

"The Chrome Stable channel has been updated to 14.0.835.187, and the Beta channel has been updated to 15.0.874.58. These updates should help repair Chrome installs that were broken due to the issue with Microsoft Security Essentials," Google Chrome engineer Jason Kersey announced on the company's blog.

False positives are not uncommon in the antivirus world and most vendors have had to deal with at least one such incident at some point. However, in some cases, especially when they involve critical system files, these bogus malware detections can have serious consequences.

Back in December 2010, a bad update issued by AVG to its users forced many 64-bit Windows 7 computers to go into an infinite reboot loop. Earlier that same year, McAfee and Bitdefender crashed millions of computers in a similar way.

In this case the incident was somewhat ironic, because Google and Microsoft are rivals in the so-called browser war. Chrome has continuously grabbed market share from Internet Explorer since its initial release three years ago, leading to some people joking that this was Microsoft's attempt to kill it in its tracks. µ


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