Microsoft is building antivirus support directly into Windows 8. But following a blunder the other day that caused the Google Chrome browser to be identified malware, do you still trust Microsoft to deliver effective protection?
The problem was outlined in a blog post over on the Google Chrome Blog yesterday:
Earlier today, we learned that the Microsoft Security Essentials tool began falsely identifying Google Chrome as a piece of malware ("PWS:Win32/Zbot") and removing it from people's computers.
Microsoft has more details:
On September 30th, 2011, an incorrect detection for PWS:Win32/Zbot was identified and as a result, Google Chrome was inadvertently blocked and in some cases removed. Within a few hours, Microsoft released an update that addresses the issue. Signature versions 1.113.672.0 and higher include this update. Affected customers should manually update Microsoft Security Essentials with the latest signatures. After updating the definitions, reinstall Google Chrome. We apologize for the inconvenience this may have caused our customers.
False positives do happen. I've covered a few examples on this blog over the years, and depending on what's identified as malware, it can be pretty devastating. When McAfee mistakenly identified the system file svchost.exe as malware back in April 2010, this prevented Windows from even loading up properly. I heard from a number of people who had no idea what had happened to their PCs and had to completely reload their OS and applications.
One antivirus package installed on every Windows 8 system will mean that millions of people could be vulnerable to a dodgy update. As much as I like the idea of having an antivirus package installed on Windows by default, the thought of the widespread damage to millions of PCs that a single bad update could cause also worries me greatly.
This mistake on Microsoft's part might suggest that it isn't ready to deploy its security solution to all Windows users just yet and that it needs to put in place a better mechanism for testing updates before they are deployed.
Note: I use Microsoft Security Essentials and Google Chrome on a number of systems and wasn't affected by this problem.