Microsoft “Accidentally” Tags Chrome As Malware

Oh, Microsoft! You are so cunning. With IE market share plummeting and many users opting for “alternative” web browsers like Firefox and Chrome, your base of power is crumbling. We thought you would succumb to melancholy and accept your fate. But you had a plan all along. Clever girl.

Yes, Microsoft has found a way to stanch the hemorrhaging of its users to other browsers: label them as malware in the built-in Security Essentials suite!

Okay, I kid. It was just a minor mistake, and they corrected it immediately: “On September 30th, 2011, an incorrect detection for PWS:Win32/Zbot was identified. On September 30th, 2011, Microsoft released an update that addresses the issue.” The incorrect detection led to Chrome being removed and reinstall prohibited.

It actually brings up an interesting point, though. Seamless updates like Chrome’s are growing more popular, especially since many apps are essentially web services, and changes (mostly innocent) happen behind the curtain all the time. When it’s a local app, though, the process for authentication becomes more complicated.

Google shouldn’t have to wait for Microsoft to approve all its updates. But Microsoft needs to be vigilant and watch for unauthorized changes that may negatively affect the user. And while malicious programs are important to watch for, poorly secured ones can be just as dangerous.

Security was never simple, but it’s getting more complicated by the day and users have more choices and more exposure. Luckily, snafus like this one are pretty harmless and Microsoft, though I give them a hard time, is actually very responsive on this front.

Update: Google has some more information on their Chrome blog.