Feeds

Sophos says sorry over Google Analytics false alarm

No harm done

Seven Steps to Software Security

Updated Sophos has apologised after its security screening technology went awry and began falsely warning users when they visited websites running Google Analytics.

The false positive - which identified web content served up from google-analytics.com as malicious code (specifically HTMLGen-A) - kicked in at around 05:15 GMT and persisted for just under an hour. As a result of the problem corporates users of both security appliances and security software applications from Sophos received false warning about Google's web stats technology.

"We weren't saying that the websites running Google Analytics contained malign or risky code. We mistakenly said that the code on the *Google Analytics* site was malign (albeit when people visited other sites)," a Sophos spokesman explained.

Surfers were warned - but not blocked - as explained in a blog post here. For webmasters, who happened to be Sophos customers, the problem meant that Google Analytics content was blocked, messing up web traffic stats figures.

Sophos rapidly pushed out an update, which ought to apply itself automatically but may take time to propagate around all infected systems. The net security firm also took unspecified steps designed to prevent a repetition of the problem.

"Even though no web browsing or computer operations were disrupted, we still recognise that an erroneous warning message can be disruptive - and we'd like to apologise for that to our customers and our friends at Google," a Sophos spokesman explained. "We pride ourselves on providing a good level of service to our customers and on this occasion we should have done better."

"We're doing a full investigation into what lessons we can learn from this incident, and have already put measures in place to ensure that this can't happen again," he added.

False positives are a well-known Achilles' Heel of security scanning software and even improving testing methodologies have failed to get rid of the problem. ®

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
NEW, SINISTER web tracking tech fingerprints your computer by making it draw
Have you been on YouPorn lately, perhaps? White House website?
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Attackers raid SWISS BANKS with DNS and malware bombs
'Retefe' trojan uses clever spin on old attacks to grant total control of bank accounts
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.