Compliance Management, Network Security, Privacy

Bug in anti-malware defenses mistakenly blocks users’ Google Docs files

Google issued a public apology on Thursday after a bug mistakenly caused its defenses against malware, phishing, and spam to block some users' access to Google Docs files on Oct. 31.

Mark Risher, director of product management at Google, explained in a Nov. 2 blog post that the bug "incorrectly flagged some files as violating our terms of service."

Various users complained via social media and the Google Docs help forum that the incident was impacting their productivity.

Acknowledging that the incident "raised questions" in the user community, Risher further explained that Tuesday's bug "caused the Google Docs and Drive services to misinterpret the response from [our] protection systems and erroneously mark some files as TOS violations, thus causing access denials for users of those files. As soon as our teams identified the problem, we removed the bug and worked to restore access to all affected files."

Risher asserted that the blocked documents were the result of a purely automated process that compares files against known samples and indicators. "The process does not involve human intervention," he stated.

Bradley Barth

As director of multimedia content strategy at CyberRisk Alliance, Bradley Barth develops content for online conferences, webcasts, podcasts video/multimedia projects — often serving as moderator or host. For nearly six years, he wrote and reported for SC Media as deputy editor and, before that, senior reporter. He was previously a program executive with the tech-focused PR firm Voxus. Past journalistic experience includes stints as business editor at Executive Technology, a staff writer at New York Sportscene and a freelance journalist covering travel and entertainment. In his spare time, Bradley also writes screenplays.

Get daily email updates

SC Media's daily must-read of the most current and pressing daily news

By clicking the Subscribe button below, you agree to SC Media Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.