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Updated World of Warcraft denizens are complaining that an anti-virus update published by Symantec over the weekend falsely labelled a component of the game as potentially malign.

Instead of throwing spells or wielding axes, fans of the role-playing game who choose Symantec for their security protection complain that the firms is listing benign scan.dll.new library as an information stealer. Multiple posts on a WoW forum suggest that the problem is far from isolated.

In a statement, Symantec acknowledged the problem and apologised to affected customers.

On May 15, 2010, Symantec issued Rapid Release and Live Update definitions, which erroneously detected a component of the World of Warcraft game as malicious.

As soon as Symantec discovered the misdetection, we immediately began working to correct the problem and on the same day, released updated definitions replacing those that caused the false positive. The updated definitions and the restoration of the scan.dll.new file will remedy any complications Symantec customers experienced as a result of this application-level false positive.

Symantec takes the security and proper functionality of its products very seriously.

We apologize to any customers who were affected by this misdetection and are standing by as necessary to assist customers with this issue as needed.

False positives involving anti-virus have always been a problem with anti-virus products but the frequency of incidents has increased over recent months, as this well researched list from security website Attrition illustrates. Issues with false alerts and security suites are becoming more common despite improvements in system architecture simply because the increased number of malware threats, estimated at 50,000 a day, are forcing suppliers to publish updates far more frequently.

Where the false positive involves applications files, such as the latest Symantec and Warcraft case, temporary inconvenience results. Things get a lot more serious in cases where system files are flagged as potentially malign, a problem that left substantial numbers of corporate PCs running McAfee unusable last month.

Days later a gang of guerilla marketeers turned up at the Infosec show in London wearing hoodies brandishing the slogan "You were only supposed to blow up the bloody viruses" in an Italian Job-themed dig at the security giant over the incident. ®

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