March 12th, 2007 at 10:06pm
Last week their anti-virus product came last in a comparison of anti-virus products and failed to achieve accreditation, before that it wasn’t protecting Windows Vista users properly, this week it’s deleting entire mailboxes!
Microsoft has admitted that its Live OneCare security suite has been accidentally deleting some users’ Outlook and Outlook Express e-mails.
According to postings on Microsoft’s OneCare forum, erasures have been caused when the antivirus program finds a virus in an e-mail attachment. Instead of then quarantining that single e-mail, users have reported that entire .pst or .dbx files — the personal folder where non-Exchange Server users’ messages and other details are kept — have been quarantined or, in some cases, even deleted.
One user commented on the forum: “Is there a chance to recover it? If not, OneCare will have done more damage than any virus in my 30 years of active computing.” Forum postings indicate, however, that recovery is possible in some cases, where the .pst or .dbx file is still available in OneCare’s quarantine facility.
Stephen Boots, a forum administrator, commented that he was “very unhappy about this problem as it was reported over a year ago and fixed in the 1.0 release”, adding: “It never appeared throughout the beta, but suddenly appeared when 1.5 was released”.
In a statement reported on Computerworld, a Microsoft spokesperson confirmed that the company was “working to address an issue where the antimalware engine for OneCare is erroneously quarantining Outlook .pst files or Outlook Express .dbx files, when the .pst file or .dbx file contains an infected attachment”. The spokesperson added that a fix would be included in the next OneCare update, which is due on 13 March.
The update might be due out tomorrow, and maybe that will fix the problem, but how exactly did they manage to reintroduce that bug, months after getting rid of it?
More importantly, Microsoft have admitted that OneCare deletes Outlook and Outlook Express mailboxes, but what about other mail clients (Mozilla Thunderbird (my recommended email client) and Eudora for example) that also have to store emails somewhere…if OneCare is deleting the mailboxes of Outlook, surely it can delete the mailboxes of competitors’ email clients, but will Microsoft’s patch prevent that?
I’m not holding my breath on that one!