Uh, whoops?

Microsoft this morning scrambled to release a fix after reports surfaced that its Security Essentials software was mistakenly identifying the Google Chrome browser as password-stealing malware — and removing the competing web browser from Windows machines.

Ed Bott of ZDNet has the rundown, including details on the updated definitions that Microsoft says will address the problem.

The false positive caused a stir among Chrome users, as reflected in this thread on the Chrome forums, starting with this post …

I have been using Chrome on my office PC for over a year.  This morning, after I started up the PC, a Windows Security box popped up and said I had a Security Problem that needed to be removed.  I clicked the Details button and saw that it was “PWS:Win32/Zbot”.  I clicked the Remove button and restarted my PC.  Now I do not have Chrome.  It has been removed or uninstalled.  The Chrome.exe file is gone.  Was there really a problem, or is this just a way for Microsoft to stick it to Google?  If I reinstall Chome, will it have my bookmarks and other settings?  Not sure what to do about this, but I much prefer Chrome to Explorer.

That question about bookmarks and settings is a critical one. Even after issuing the fix, Microsoft could have some very angry Chrome users on its hands.

Update, 11:57 a.m.: Here’s Microsoft’s statement …

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 from customers PCs. We have already fixed the issue — we released an updated signature (1.113.672.0) at 9:57 am PDT — but approximately 3,000 customers were impacted. Affected customers should manually update Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) with the latest signatures. To do this, simply launch MSE, go to the update tab and click the Update button, and then reinstall Google Chrome. We apologize for the inconvenience this may have caused our customers.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1198150213 Joe Murray

    That is hilarious!!  Always knew Google was malware…

  • Freemateo

    I was one of the unlucky former Chrome users. I updated Microsoft Security Essentials and attempted to reinstall Chrome with the same problems.  I do not get updated to 1.113.672.0, but find my “updated” version to be 1.113.656.0.  Any suggestions?

  • http://geeknizer.com Geeknizer

    Why they never detected IE as malware which is the malware gateway in practice?
    Microsoft now lives on Google’s mercy. $0.5 billion yearly revenue from android

  • Anonymous

    please, less than 500 million a year?  That’s like 2 cents profit added to the per share profit annually. 

    On the other hand, this explains why I don’t use MSE.

    • Guest

      Your loss. It’s a very good product.

  • Cap’n. Jeffy

    This kind of stuff just happens.. Meh…

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MBTKKSVMC4MCMDECSCXEVIBXVA Some

    You need to force Microsoft Essentials to update its signatures before attempting to re-install chrome.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MBTKKSVMC4MCMDECSCXEVIBXVA Some

    You need to force Microsoft Essentials to update its signatures before attempting to re-install chrome.

  • Anonymous

    Dude, no way man, I never even thought about it liek that. Thats way cool.

  • Anonymous

    So what? It was just a minor false positive. I wouldn’t care. I would check the details of the “infection” before I click the remove button anyways.

    P.S. I am a very proud Chrome user.

  • Guest

    Mistakes happen. What I really want to know is why Chrome is installing into AppData and even leaving previous versions there as well?

    • Guest

      The first is so it can bypass UAC and other restrictions and let an end user install Chrome and then have it auto-update. Not exactly an IT-policy friendly way of doing it. The second I have no idea.

  • tenayaca

    I don’t have CHROME but my gmail is constantly being blocked due to a certificate expiring. I ‘ve wasted a LOT of time trying to wade through the Microsoft computer “answers” for this problem. Needless to say, they don’t have a specific answer and just keep running me around in circles.

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