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Microsoft Blocking Gmail

Live OneCare, Microsoft's virus scanning software Windows has reportedly started blocking Gmail as a virus leaving many users seeing a warning indicating BAT/BWG.A infection the moment they open Gmail.

As noted by some Gmail users, the problem began soon after google updated its e-mail service with new features. This is a false case of virus detection on part of OneCare, a speculation that gains momentum from the fact that this virus is not recognized by other security services like McAfee and Symantec.

The OneCare and Gmail forums are flooded with postings indicating sightings of such warning. OneCare Support Center advised Gmail users to clear their web caches or delete all archived mails but nothing seems to work as of now.

Microsoft's threat center has very little information on BAT/BWG.A virus. An email worm by the same name has been identified by Trend Micro as a Trojan which propagates dropping a VBScript file (.VBS) that attaches it to email messages sent to the contacts found in Windows address book or Microsoft Outlook address book.

On November 13, 2006, a Microsoft representative expressed that this was a limited false positive issue with their anti-virus protection and claimed to have issued a new anti-virus signature resolving this issue on November 12, 2006, soon after they came to know about this. This problem started last week with Google making some alterations to its Gmail web site and indicating this, the representative confirmed that Microsoft is reviewing its procedures and processes to minimize occurrence of such false positives.

Occasional cases of false positives with security software are not rare. Earlier this year, McAfee reportedly flagged Microsoft's Excel and other legitimate applications as viruses. Symantec has also labeled a Church of England software programme as spyware this summer.

Updating the signature files in security applications can easily fix the false positives. Security program use these signatures as rules to recognize the malevolent software. The Gmail issue is not the first case of false positive from Live OneCare, Microsoft's first consumer anti-virus product released in late May. Even during the testing phase, OneCare was found to disable the Computrace LoJack, application that works like a homing tool to help retrieve a laptop after it has been stolen or lost.

Related article: Microsoft Patches Live OneCare to Tackle Quarantined E-Mails

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