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Kaspersky blocks BBC News over false phishing fears

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Updated Kaspersky's security software created confusion on Wednesday after it blocked the redesigned BBC News site and other web properties.

The Russian security firm's widely used Internet Security 2011 package labelled the revamped news site as a phishing risk, warning users against visiting it. The Auntie-blocking behaviour extended across a wide range of BBC sites, not just the flagship news site, until Kaspersky pulled the dodgy update late on Wednesday. In the interim surfers were confronted with the following unhelpful message:

http://www.bbc.co.uk is used to steal passwords, credit card numbers and other confidential data. Access denied

In an statement, Kaspersky apologised for the false positive, which it blamed on dodgy data from a third-party phishing blocklist supplier. It promised to improve its testing procedures to prevent a repetition of the incident.

Kaspersky Lab acknowledges that its products erroneously blocked access to the bbc.co.uk website

On 14 July, 2010, one of Kaspersky Lab's external providers of phishing data supplied incorrect information that was subsequently incorporated into the Company's anti-phishing databases. As a result, all Kaspersky Lab endpoint security products erroneously blocked access to the bbc.co.uk website, wrongly identifying it as a phishing site. The error was identified and corrected shortly thereafter.

Kaspersky Lab would like to apologise for any inconvenience this problem may have caused users. The company is continually improving its procedures for testing products and releasing updates to prevent such errors from occurring in future.

Snafus like this are the result of misfiring security defining updates. Problems of this type are all too common and can label system files as potentially malign and quarantine them, which can cripple a system.

This case is fairly minor by comparison, but will have generated plenty of confused support calls before it was resolved.

The issue is certainly not caused by the redesign of the BBC News site. Widespread criticism of the redesign in the blogsphere over its confusing layout, unappealing appearance and the bone-headed decision to demote the prominence of sports coverage is another thing altogether. The revamped BBC site falls foul of several HTML coding conventions but this should not by itself have resulted in this false positive. ®

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