- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 3, 2006

I have deep and abiding respect for the Norton Anti-Virus products from Symantec Corp., but even the best can make a mistake, as the Church House Publishing unit of the Church of England discovered:

Concerning Norton Anti-virus software, SniperSpy and Visual Liturgy

On Saturday 8 July, Symantec issued a new virus definition for Norton anti-virus software. That update has had a significant detrimental effect on Visual Liturgy.

In particular, it appears that in this most recent set of virus definitions, Symantec incorrectly identified one of the key components for Visual Liturgy - a file called vlutils.dll - as a piece of malware* called SniperSpy.

We would first like to categorically state that vlutils.dll is not malware and Visual Liturgy is not exposing you to the risk of infection whether via the Online Update facility or otherwise. You can use Visual Liturgy safely and with confidence. This particular file - vlutils.dll - has existed on your computer as long as you have had Visual Liturgy. It is perfectly safe and it is not indicative of the presence of SniperSpy on your system.

On Monday 10 July, Church House Publishing staff returned to work to a significant number of phone calls and emails and discussion on the Visual Liturgy website from concerned Visual Liturgy users who are also Norton users. Those users were all concerned that either Visual Liturgy had exposed them to a virus and/or that their copy of Visual Liturgy was no longer working because, at Norton’s advice, they had removed their vlutils.dll file.

Whilst assisting all those customers, Church House Publishing staff immediately reported the issue online to Norton via their established practices as what is known in the industry as a ‘false positive’.

Norton acknowledged our report in a standard email response that stated:

“Symantec will attempt to advise you of our determination regarding your submission within four weeks, depending on completeness of information submitted.”

As far as we are concerned, a response within four weeks was not good enough considering the level of confusion and inconvenience they had caused amongst our customers.

Unfortunately, since Norton and Symantec have incorrectly identified part of Visual Liturgy as being malicious, only Symantec can fix this problem. As the vendors of Visual Liturgy, we need them to update their own virus definitions so that vlutils.dll is not wrongly being identified as malware.

Since Monday, staff from Church House Publishing along with Tim Anderson, our senior developer from OnlyConnect Systems Ltd, have repeatedly telephoned Symantec’s offices in Dublin and the United States of America. …

A C-Net news report by Tom Espiner of ZD Net UK didn’t indicate a response from Symantec, which I hope will be forthcoming soon.

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