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CA anti-virus breaks Windows

CA anti-virus breaks Windows

Users of Computer Associates' anti-virus products are understandably irate that a bad update left them with unusable systems.

Computer Associates found itself with some unhappy customers yesterday after a glitch in their virus definitions blacklisted a series of Windows XP system files.

As reported over on CNet, the files – mostly releated to Windows XP Service Pack 3 – were automatically quarantined by the company's anti-virus software after mistakenly being diagnosed with the Win32/AMalum.ZZQIA virus.

It wasn't just files from Microsoft either: certain parts of the popular Cygwin Linux-style environment, often used by programmers and other techie types to implement functionality present in Linux but missing from Windows, were also quarantined.

This resulted in the files disappearing, seemingly deleted – and programs that rely on their presence refusing to work. While the files weren't actually deleted – by default, the CA anti-virus package renames the files' extensions to .AVB in order to prevent their execution – it proved to be a pain for many customers, who vented their anger on the company's official forum.

Users of CA Internet Security Suite are advised to update to version 6606 of the virus signature database before using the GUI to release the affected files from quarantine, while corporate users with CA Threat Manager are asked to manually find all files with a .AVB extension and rename them.

So far Computer Associates has given no indication of how the definitions got through testing with such a major error, nor made any offer of restitution to its irate users beyond an automated file rename utility which is available via the company's customer service department.

Should Computer Associates be offering some kind of gesture to the customers affected by this mistake, or has the company already lost too much goodwill to make the effort worth its while? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

17 Comments

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whisperwolf 10th July 2009, 16:41 Quote
who the heck are CA, I've never heard of them till now.
cjoyce1980 10th July 2009, 16:49 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by whisperwolf
who the heck are CA, I've never heard of them till now.

the biggest piece of s**t software company that you will ever come across. they use to partner with IBM back in the day and after a series of large cock ups IBM stopped using them
sear 10th July 2009, 17:01 Quote
Oh god, look at that box. Look at it. That thing is from hell. It is not of this earth. It was created by a software program, or a robot, because no human hands could ever have created something so absolutely, perfectly typical.

Let's go over this:

- White background
- Funny green pattern along the bottom, visually pleasing but not abrasive or distracting
- Bold, strong font, yet not aggressive or intimidating
- Photos of random people using their computers and looking happy
- Some attractive twenty-thirty-something woman, dressed in such a way as to be appealing to men, yet not offensive to other women, looking confident and assured that her computer is in good hands

My brain wants to kill itself.

Oh, and yeah, nice ****-up or whatever.
Paradigm Shifter 10th July 2009, 17:17 Quote
This particular sort of screw up seems to be getting more common - that reported issue with non-English AVG that broke Windows and I have experienced AVG deciding that essential system files were viruses after an update. Competition and choice are all well and good, but not at the cost of QA/checking.
Cupboard 10th July 2009, 17:19 Quote
They could at least provide something to automagically un-break the non virus files.
Lazy arses.
Lepermessiah 10th July 2009, 18:10 Quote
Xp sucks, lol. if this were Vista people would somehow find a way to blame vista.
coniferous 10th July 2009, 18:20 Quote
you know you have a problem when the anti virus program does more damage then viruses themselves.
dicobalt 10th July 2009, 18:40 Quote
I have had to deal with CA .AVB problem many times. CA will intentionally rename executable files that you download to .AVB. Then you have to change explorer view so that you can actaully even see the hidden file extension and then rename it. A real pita and weird as hell if you are doing it over the phone with someone who can barely move a mouse.
B3CK 11th July 2009, 07:09 Quote
Restitution to home users, not really needed, but I suppose if receipt and proper proof from 2ndary company, then sure, I don't see how someone with a receipt and documentation from a pc profesional couldn't force them to pay for pc repair services due to this snafu.

But ya, if they didn't have a command line tool or iso image that auto fixed the files, and updated the A/V, you bet I would bring the caps lock down on them.
OWNED66 12th July 2009, 10:28 Quote
CA never heard of them
HourBeforeDawn 12th July 2009, 23:10 Quote
ya I would like to know how this got passed too and why is effecting some XP users and not all, this is interesting to say the least. I never cared for CA products to begin with.
general22 13th July 2009, 06:34 Quote
Didn't these people make Vet Anti virus? IIRC that program did nothing useful and never found viruses.
BLC 14th July 2009, 11:36 Quote
A perfect example of how bad the quality control around software engineering/development is. Compare software engineering with structural engineering: you wouldn't expect a large building to be designed without any thought of what each part will do and how it will interact with other parts it's connected to - it'd probably fall down pretty quickly and leave lots of very unhappy people.
Gareth Halfacree 14th July 2009, 12:52 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by BLC
A perfect example of how bad the quality control around software engineering/development is. Compare software engineering with structural engineering: you wouldn't expect a large building to be designed without any thought of what each part will do and how it will interact with other parts it's connected to - it'd probably fall down pretty quickly and leave lots of very unhappy people.
To be fair, that's a poor comparison: I think most buildings would fall down if the ground suddenly shifted six feet in a given direction after the build was finished - much like software might fall down when Microsoft changes a chunk of Windows system files without telling anyone.
Paradigm Shifter 14th July 2009, 13:15 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gareth Halfacree
To be fair, that's a poor comparison: I think most buildings would fall down if the ground suddenly shifted six feet in a given direction after the build was finished - much like software might fall down when Microsoft changes a chunk of Windows system files without telling anyone.

True, but this issue isn't Windows moving the ground under the software... it's the software moving the ground under itself and every other bit of software on the computer. ;) Fact is this error should never have been let past QC/A.
BLC 14th July 2009, 14:04 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gareth Halfacree
To be fair, that's a poor comparison: I think most buildings would fall down if the ground suddenly shifted six feet in a given direction after the build was finished - much like software might fall down when Microsoft changes a chunk of Windows system files without telling anyone.

But doesn't that illustrate my point? Architects & engineers have to account for things like ground movement, subsidence, weather or any number of external factors which will have a drastic impact on their project. It's the same principle with building software: you have to try and think of every possible scenario and account for it. Obviously you can't account for everything; firstly it would be impossible to think of every possible scenario, but you run the risk of products languishing development hell with endless feature creep and never actually getting the product out (case in point: Duke Nukem Forever). But the purpose of effective testing, quality control, alpha/beta releases, etc is to anticipate problems that could occur and iron out as much as possible as early as possible. Where I work, we're given a rough rule of thumb: each time a code defect moves to the next stage of development (design, build, code test, QA test, user acceptance test, release), the cost to fix it increases tenfold. So something that would cost £1 to fix during code testing would cost £1000 to fix if it was present in the finished product.

In general, the lack of effective quality control is endemic throughout the software industry. Another recent blog post, and it's comments, lamented the fact that game developers often push products to market without having tested them properly; the resultant patches are often also poorly thought out and can sometimes break games. Those who have invested the money are too eager to see a ROI (return on investment) and often care little for the quality of the product: if it's out there and it's selling units, who cares if it's broken? It's making a profit and it can't be *that* bad because people are buying it.

I'm being very non-specific here, and probably tarring a lot of people with the same brush. Doubtless there are software houses out there that pride themselves on the quality of the product above all else. However if you look at the entire industry as a whole, that isn't generally the case. And it's not through the fault of the developers; their code is their bread and butter so it's only natural to want to do a good job, but there are other factors to consider when releasing a product (namely money).

It's a difficult balancing act to get it right, but clearly CA failed spectacularly here.

Heh... Spot the guy who works in software testing.... ;)
fargo 14th July 2009, 14:47 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lepermessiah
Xp sucks, lol. if this were Vista people would somehow find a way to blame vista.

xp itself had nothing to do with this problem and yes vista has screwed up enough things it most likely
would have been blamed if this had happened in vista, lol !!
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