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Trend Micro Virus Update Freezes PCs

Security vendor Trend Micro distributed a faulty virus definition file on Friday that slowed thousands of PCs worldwide to a crawl, the company admitted Monday.

Security vendor Trend Micro distributed a faulty virus definition file on Friday that slowed thousands of PCs worldwide to a crawl, the company admitted Monday.

The virus definition file was released Friday at about 3:30 p.m. PDT to both the Trend Micro Web site (where users could retrieve it manually) and to the firm's automatic update servers. The file was to update Trend Micro's OfficeScan, PC-cillin, ServerProtect for NT, Client/Server Suite for SMB, and Client/Server/Messaging Suite for SMB.

Rather than simply update the anti-virus files, however, the new definition brought machines to their knees by chewing up virtually every processor cycle.

"We confirmed that a virus pattern file which we distributed on April 23, 2005, from 7:33 a.m. to 9:02 a.m., Tokyo Local Time, significantly slowed the performance of our customers' computers and in some cases made their computers inaccessible," said Trend Micro in a statement from its Tokyo office on Monday. "This trouble was caused by insufficient work in compatibility testing of the product with the operating system before it was released."

Earlier, Trend Micro had pinned the blame on improvements in its software's ability to detect viruses in compressed files.

Approximately 90 minutes after releasing the defective definition file, Trend Micro posted a fixed file that it urged all users to download and install from its site or its update servers. The company also posted suggested tactics for affected users, including instructions on how to roll back the update.

Although it was too late for users plagued with inoperable PCs, Trend Micro's Tokyo's office said in a statement, "We promise that we will further strive for and improve our quality control to avoid future occurrences of similar problems."

The company also said it was trying to put a dollar amount of the gaffe to account for any possible changes to its business forecasts and guidance.

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