Freebie anti-virus scanner Avast falsely identified an executable associated with the popular Steam gaming platform as a Trojan on Sunday.
The snafu, which persisted for around 90 minutes, meant that SteamService.exe was wrongly identified as a Trojan (specifically Trojan-gen) and sent to quarantine. Judging by posts on Steam forums, many tech-savvy gamers hit by the problem correctly deduced that a false positive was to blame for the problem, rather than a genuine malware infection.
A spokesperson for the Czech Republic-based firm confirmed this on Monday afternoon, stating "There was a very brief false positive issue which was corrected in 1.5 hours."
The misfiring virus definition file that caused the problem has been withdrawn.
Gamers hit by the problem will have to recover files from quarantine. In some cases this may involve re-installing Steam, if past experience of similar problems is anything to go by.
False positives are a perennial problem in anti-virus scanners which hits all vendors from time to time. Even though testing procedures have been improved, mistakes still occur.
Anti-virus false alarms cause the most inconvenience where systems files are falsely flagged as malicious, thus consigning important files to quarantine and leaving users with unstable PCs that might even fail to boot properly. That's not the case with the Steam false alarm, which is best characterised as an annoying inconvenience rather than anything more severe. ®