When programs do things without asking: F-Secure’s latest epic fail

The lesson

Don’t ever ever make your software do important decisions for your user. Programs that behave in ways that user doesn’t expect them to, are bound to fail.

If it’s about freeing your user from repeating mundane tasks, please let the program do the work. If it’s something that most of the users would choose in most cases, please make the decision for them. But if it’s about trashing 90 000 files on my computer and not letting me restore them with a single click – please just let me do the decision making. Pretty-fucking-please.

The story follows.

I believed in a virus free computer

When I ditched my PC and purchased an iMac, one of the things off my chest was the vast amount of viruses I had just left behind. For a couple of months I didn’t even consider installing a virus protection software – I felt Safe. Then a friend from work told me that F-Secure’s got a free version of their protection software for Mac. Oh well, protection’s always good, right? Right.

Is this my first virus on a Mac?

Tonight I came home from work and launched my Firefox and then suddenly my F-Secure alerts me about a malware it has just prevented. I slowly close my browser and move away from the keyboard: could this be real? In disbelief I blink my eyes rapidly for a few times and relaunch Firefox… there it is again! Is this my first ever virus on a Mac?

My natural reaction

Worried about the infection I decided to start a full system scan. Little did I know what was about to happen next.

Since I’ve got over 500 gigabytes of files, I also left the F-Secure software running and went to play some GT5 on my PS3. For some reason the first 3000 files seemed to have almost 3000 dangerous files. This didn’t feel alerting, although it should’ve.

The epic fail

Later at night I came back from a floorball rehearsal and checked the status of the files right away. How many files were infected? Did F-secure remove the infection? What other actions do I need to take in order to regain my computer’s health? The report tells me that… of the 90 000 thousand infected files… almost all have been… moved to Trash!

I dash to forums to find a way to restore my files back to their initial locations. Like a word from heavens it echoed: “Put Back!” A command that could reanimate your files and repair your broken software. But just like everything that sounds too good to be true… well isn’t true. I keep on digging and in the last corner of the Internet (which is of course F-Secure’s forum) I find a thread that sheds some light on my despair.

The problem was indeed a major false positive on the TP version of our OS X offering. The problem was solved a while ago with update 2011-03-14_04. If any of you were using a non Technology preview version, please contact me. – Veli-Jussi Kesti, F-Secure corp.

I might’ve not been infected in the first place! And now I’ve got 90 000 files including my Photos, Graphic Design Files, Shared files from DropBox, Application files, etc. in the trash and no idea how to put them back where they belong. And for what? Someone had decided that the default option was to automatically trash the files. G-sus! Guess again, sir – you’ve just made and epic fail.

Internet money machine

Your five steps to Internet fortune

  1. Generate cute (funny, original, epic, fail, violent, etc.) content with your video camera (iPhone works just fine for this).
  2. Get a domain (don’t worry if it costs a bit, you’ll get your money back soon).
  3. Host your content on YouTube in order to gain Adsense money and to make sure you wont run out of bandwidth.
  4. Embed the YouTube content on your new domain and add affiliate banners via Peerfly (basically any other Affiliate program will do)
  5. Laugh your way to the bank

These guys already knew the secret