Google coughs to macOS boot-fail bug

September 26, 2019 | 10:05

Tags: #browser #bug #chrome #flaw #google-chrome #google-drive #google-keystone #macos

Companies: #apple #google

Google has warned of a serious bug in its Keystone software update utility for macOS, bundled with its Chrome browser and other native applications, which has been damaging filesystems and rendering systems unbootable.

Reports began to surface this week of an at-the-time unknown flaw that was causing macOS systems to fail the boot process. Initially, blame was placed on popular video editing utility Avid Media Composer - until Google stepped forward to admit that it was its own Keystone software, a tool designed to keep Google software running on a macOS system up-to-date, that was to blame.

Also known as Google Software Update, Keystone ships with software including Google Chrome and Goole Drive and is built to ensure that users are kept up-to-date and protected from vulnerabilities and other flaws in the software through the rapid installation of the latest patches. Sadly, the newest version of the tool - Keystone - turns out to have a major flaw of its own: It damages the filesystem on macOS systems that do not have the System Integrity Protection (SIP) feature activated, which includes all pre-OS X El Capitan installations which lack the SIP feature altogether.

'We recently discovered that a Chrome update may have shipped with a bug that damages the file system on macOS machines with System Integrity Protection (SIP) disabled, including machines that do not support SIP,' Google announced in a support post which fails to apologise for the issue. 'We've paused the release while we finalise a new update that addresses the problem. If you have not taken steps to disable System Integrity Protection and your computer is on OS X 10.11 or later, this issue cannot affect you.'

Those who have been affected are advised to boot into recovery mode then use a string of arcane commands in the Terminal to delete the Google Keystone software and restore the damaged part of the filesystem so that the affected machine can boot once again.

Google has not yet offered a timescale for the release of a fixed Keystone for macOS.

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