Symantec Screwup Is 'Worse Than Any Virus'

... states president of Solid Oak Software

A routine update from Symantec Security Response wreaked havoc on a California company's clientele when it inadvertently tagged a program produced by Solid Oak Software as a virus and cut off the Internet access of Solid Oak customers.

Symantec released a virus definition update that incorrectly identified Solid Oak's CyberSitter filtering program as a virus. Depending on the version of Symantec's Norton Antivirus product that Solid Oak customers were running, CyberSitter files were either deleted or banned from use by Norton, according to Solid Oak.

On Friday, a Symantec spokesman said that the company had issued a fix.

Before that, however, Solid Oak customers including schools, libraries and personal accounts, were not provided with a recovery mechanism and subsequently lost Internet access. Solid Oak did not have an exact number of those affected, but it likely numbers in the tens of thousands, according to a spokeswoman.

Customers have had to re-install entire operating systems and software, she said.

This is the third time in less than a year that Symantec's Norton products have caused severe damage to computers running CYBERsitter software offerings, said Brian Milburn, president of Solid Oak Software, in a statement. "In my opinion, Norton products are worse than any virus I can think of," he said.

"We have thousands of users with no Internet access and all Symantec has done is to provide our mutual customers with a non-functioning support number that tell them to use on-line support," Milburn added. "The problem is even worse because it is the holiday season. Users are trying to order gifts on-line and they can't."

A Symantec spokeswoman said Thursday the company was "researching" the problem. On Friday, the company issued the following statement:

"On December 5, Symantec moved the detection of an application called CYBERsitter from trackware into a new category called parental controls. Both categories are considered security risks, and Symantec provides its customers with the option of allowing the technology to function as intended or blocking it. During the category switch, behavioral technology in Symantec products detected CYBERsitter as Bloodhound.unknown and restricted Internet access.

"To restore full Internet access, Symantec advises affected customers to temporarily turn off AutoProtect, run LiveUpdate and then turn AutoProtect back on," Symantec said in the statement, which was issued by spokesman Mike Bradshaw. "This will install the most current set of definitions which classify CYBERsitter as a parental control."

The question that one would have to ask is how a company like Symantec can decide that a legitimate piece of software, indented to be a “ parental control” program, is, according to them, a security risks? Why, please?

Maybe the current users of Symantec's Norton anti-virus and security software should look for another provider of such software; possibly even a program that is free instead of costing lost of money and then not working all that well? I could recommend one there for sure, especially for private and/or school use.

Michael Smith (Veshengro)