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Technical Problem in CA’s Antivirus Upsets Users

Antivirus software from Computer Associates Inc. (CA) based in New York has recently started infecting and then isolating files from their original positions on people's PCs although these files were installed to maintain proper functioning of the systems.

One user, Lee Jay Mandell, aged 60 years who retired as a computer advisor but currently working as a patent attorney in Los Angeles stated that he noticed the problem on his PC on July 8, 2009, as reported by Associated Press on July 11, 2009.

Mandell said he discovered the problem when he noticed that the isolated files were part of the Windows operating software. However, he tried to restore his computer using his previous technical knowledge, but users with less proficiency might stumble. Luckily, Mandell was able to get back his computer in working condition, but it took him six hours for the restoration, he said.

Software of such kinds that are supposed to stop known viruses sometimes wrongly labels the legitimate computer files as corrupt or malicious, leading to deletion of important files. The incident could even lead a system to collapse.

Problems like these are called false positives. These are known to companies that strive to safeguard people's systems from malware that could compromise their PCs.

All antivirus companies have to manage false positives. They occur when programming code of legitimate files behave in an identical manner as that of malicious viruses. Accordingly, the AV product detects those files as malicious and begins to quarantine them.

This could cause annoyance among customers or systems might meltdown in case crucial files are attacked. Earlier in July 2009, users of McAfee's antivirus programs (older versions) reported of crash down of their systems following an instance of false positive.

Meanwhile, CA expressed regrets to users for the latest problem and stated that after three years, it had experienced problem of false positive. The company stated that CA had a history of keeping its false positives low, adding that it was wholly possible to recover the files which its recent AV program misidentified as viruses.

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