Security

Borked ESET antivirus update says entire web is too risky to browse

JavaScript false positive prompts virtual recall

Surfers who rely on ESET anti-virus are having a hard time surfing the web following a misfiring anti-virus update, pushed out on Monday morning.

The update is stopping people who apply it from browsing most of the internet, including ESET’s own site.

Sites such as Amazon, MSN and more are falsely being labelled as contaminated with hostile JavaScript code.

ESET has confirmed issues via its Twitter feed and on its forums.

“We have identified an issue with our latest signature, until it's resolved we recommend rolling back your virus signature database,” it said in a Twitter update. “Guide to rolling back for business users: http://support.eset.com/kb3008/ Home users can follow this guide: http://support.eset.com/kb3351”.

Around half an hour later the Slovakia-based firm told UK customers that it was on top of the problem.

An ESET spokesman told The Register: "ESET released a virus database update that was incorrectly blocking access to some websites or their components. As soon as we learned of the problem, the update was retracted and, within approximately two hours’ time a new update fixing the issue was deployed. This issue did not affect user data and users were fully protected during the brief period in question."

He added: "However, we would like to apologise due to the fact that this problem did cause inconvenience to our users."

More information about the problem can be found on the ESET website.

The screw-up comes on the eve of the RSA Conference in San Francisco, making it especially bad timing because a lot of senior security personnel will be on the road.

False positives are a well known Achilles’ Heel of anti-malware packages and all vendors suffer from them from time to time. Although quality assurance processes have improved over the years mistakes still happen. The ever-growing volume of malware security packages need to identify means that security updates need to occur frequently and this is one, but by no means the only, factor in the continuing problem. ®

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