By Elinor Mills
March 10, 2009
Symantec released a diagnostic patch for some of its older Norton
products on Monday night that did not identify its origin and thus
triggered alerts on user firewalls, the company said Tuesday.
The patch for 2006 and 2007 versions of Norton Internet Security and
Norton Antivirus, a program dubbed "PFST.exe," (Product Information
Framework Trouble Shooter) was distributed to collect anonymous
statistics on matters such as how many computers are using the products
and what operating system they are running, Jeff Kyle, group product
manager for Symantec consumer products, said Tuesday.
Because it was unsigned--a result of human error--firewalls started
prompting users with messages asking them if they trust the patch, Kyle
said. Of course, because the patch had no signature indicating it was
from Symantec, users didn't know whether to trust it and many of them
went to the Norton user forum for answers.
The company pulled the patch after three hours and then unwittingly laid
the groundwork for conspiracy theorists after it started deleting forum
posts related to the matter. The company was not censoring the posts,
but fighting off a spam attack, according to Kyle.
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