Back in July(?) 2006 when Microsoft issued an update to the Windows Genuine Advantage tool, I figured I may as well install it (I’d be forced to eventually) on my one Windows box. So I installed it, and rebooted, and the login screen proclaimed loudly that Windows was not genuine. (Well, not literally loudly, it didn’t shout over the speakers or anything — which would be an interesting deterrent, now that I think about it.)

This came as something of a surprise, given that:

  • This was a Dell, not some no-name computer.
  • It still had the original OS install, and no hardware had been changed.
  • The previous version of WGA had reported no problems.

I logged in, did some searching on Microsoft’s knowledge base, and found a link that said something like “Validate here.” I clicked on it.

To my surprise, it told me my copy was perfectly valid.

I eventually concluded that Norton Internet Security had blocked the initial validation attempt. Because there was no desktop shell, there was no opportunity for it to pop up a notice and ask me if I wanted it to let the data through.

After that experience, I can’t say I’m surprised that Microsoft found many of their false positives to be the result of security software. Admittedly, they were looking at registry changes, crypto problems and McAfee, rather than a transient error with Norton.

(Reposted fromĀ this comment at Slashdot, mainly so I can find it again easily without searching.)

The SANS Internet Storm Center remarks on the challenges of fixing Java vulnerabilities, since Sun’s installer only checks once a month by default—based on when you installed it, not on a standard schedule.

Well, it’s worse than that. My Windows 2000 box at work was easy. I just went into Control Panel, opened the Java Plugin, and told it to update. At home, on our Windows XP box, I had to go through multiple reboots just to get the installer started.

It wasn’t XP that was the problem, though: It was Norton Internet Security. First it disabled all network access from Firefox when I installed the new version. Then it blocked access to the Java updater, so whenever I clicked on “Install” it would just disappear instead of launching the installer. I resolved it (for now) by disabling Norton while I did the install…but I had to reboot in order to get as far as the first step again.