Buggy Norton Internet Security update crashes Internet Explorer

Graham Cluley
Graham Cluley
@[email protected]

A buggy update pushed out to users of some Norton/Symantec security products caused a headache for Internet Explorer users on Friday evening.

Norton Internet Security crashes Internet Explorer

Within minutes of Symantec pushing out the update, customers noticed Internet Explorer was crashing with the helpfully informative message:

“Internet Explorer Has Stopped Working”

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Unsurprisingly, considering the number of people who must use both Norton anti-virus products and Internet Explorer, customers began to post their grievances on Symantec’s support forum.

Thread on Norton forum

Same issue here, actually was using IE when the updated started and them BOOM everything came crashing down. Glad to know that Symantec with all of the reductions and cuts to staff still has time to properly test their code. Note the sarcasm. One would think that this would be an easy Q&A check.

I have the same problem. Was running fine today. Then Norton updated and crashed IE11 that had been working fine up to that point. I have uninstalled NIS and IE started working. Then reinstalled NIS, and once the patch was deployed IE started crashing again.

Presumably all these users were accessing Symantec’s support forum via an alternative browser such as Chrome or Firefox, as Internet Explorer would have been as useful as an ejector seat in a helicopter.

In a support note, published on Saturday evening, Symantec advised affected users to run LiveUpdate manually to fix the problem.

Of course, if Internet Explorer was the only browser you had, and it kept crashing, I’m not quite sure how you would get to read the support advisory. If that was you, hopefully the issue has fixed itself by now.

Blue screen of deathSadly security software has a long history of bugs, sometimes causing more of a headache than the attacks which it is trying to prevent.

Just last week, The Register reported that users of Windows 8.1 running disk encryption software like TrueCrypt were being greeted by a blue screen of death from the latest edition of Norton.

And way back in the mists of time, in 1993 to be precise, I recall that Norton AntiVirus was mistakenly false-alarming on the popular archiving program PKZIP, thinking it was infected with the Maltese Amoeba virus.

Perhaps not the scariest misidentification ever, but try telling that to the person I spoke to who responded to the erroneous Norton virus alert by reformatting their hard drive.

Graham Cluley is an award-winning keynote speaker who has given presentations around the world about cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. A veteran of the computer security industry since the early 1990s, he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows, makes regular media appearances, and is the co-host of the popular "Smashing Security" podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

14 comments on “Buggy Norton Internet Security update crashes Internet Explorer”

  1. Coyote

    My immediate reaction:
    What a service! Internet Explorer (and the old insult of it, that being 'Internet Exploder' seems far more appropriate here) dead! But then… and this is regrettable, very regrettable indeed, yet something that many vendors do… last I knew, a fair amount of Windows software uses IE directly for its interface (maybe that is why there's so many issues …). So then it isn't a service but rather a disservice!

    "And way back in the mists of time, in 1993 to be precise, I recall that Norton AntiVirus was mistakenly false-alarming on the popular archiving program PKZIP, thinking it was infected with the Maltese Amoeba virus."

    I think I remember that! That gives me a laugh, though, because while it probably did concern people at the time, it is amusing and technically interesting how false positives and false negatives are a real problem to antivirus (of course, it is not at all helpful to the users). Of course, to be fair to Symantec (and being fair to them is rather painful) heuristics do have that problem in general (and I imagine it isn't just heuristics). This is especially true for any software that uses antidebugging tricks which I could see pkzip having (but I honestly don't recall for sure). Key generators (not that I at all condone them, nor do I have any use for them and if I were to use commercial software – which isn't going to happen – I would purchase it and be done with it) trip antiviruses too. Of course debuggers, disassemblers and other such things, probably also give them grief (I seem to recall it has happened and it would make sense that it would).

  2. WhatYouSay

    Do they still even make this program any longer? I have NEVER read anything GOOD about any Norton anti-virus product. Way back in the stone ages when I bought my first 486 based system it came with McAffee. Symantec was marketing Norton at the time and I bought the Symantec Gold version (top of the line at the time) and installed it on my still-virgin 486. That, as it turned out, was a huge mistake. Even though that computer was running very fast (after I had uninstalled all of the trashware that came with the system) Norton brought the system TO ITS KNEES. At first I thought that it might be checking things out so I allowed the software some time to do its job and I had lunch. 2 hours later the system remained locked. After doing a hard reboot the system came up and while checking with Task Manager I saw that everything was running S-L-O-O-O-W-W-W-L-L-L-Y. I uninstalled Norton, re-installed McAffee, did a warm re-boot and my system took off light lightning. I contacted Symantec and they gave me a full refund. I've NEVER recommended any Norton product to anyone since.

  3. JimCSecurity

    Kudos to Symantec for resolving this issue in approximately 5 hours on Friday evening/early Saturday morning.

  4. John

    Norton has a 'great' reputation when is comes to fucking up systems. I used their product "PGP Whole Disk Encryption" (WDE) on several systems. Well – I wanted to use it, but sooner or later, on whatever Windows version, I would be experiencing BSOD's, The truly dismal customer support thereafter (on several instances) only added to my frustration. Long story short: I paid for a freakin' Norton product, but NEVER EVER will I be making purchases with Norton again – if you do, you can be sure that at some point you will enjoy your Norton-induced BSOD, in my cases even rendering the systems completeyl unusable, culminating into a full fresh re-installations of Windows. Of course, the thousands in business losses were not even reason for Norton to express a simple "we're sorry".

  5. balance

    If anyone is stupid enough to use either Norton or McAffee don't complain anywhere but in your own ear. Only a kid the age of 5 and under would use those worthless programs.

  6. don

    I have used Norton for years and swear by it. I tried Mcfunkie once and dropped it like a hot rock. I have never had a complaint about Norton.

  7. Mike

    I've been using Norton products for 10+ years and have never had a problem.

  8. I have been receiving numerous emails from a company sending SPAM email. In the past I have used the Norton Antispam system that comes with Norton 360 to place it in the SPAM folder. On Monday February 16, 2015, I received another email from this same SPAM sender that ended up in the inbox, so I figured I would contact Norton for help at stopping this SPAM because their Antispam software doesn’t seem to be working.
    At approximately 5:00 pm I got on the Norton website service and began a chat with one of the technicians. I was assigned case number 20616027. I did not copy down the name of the tech that was helping me but it was a foreign spelled first and last name. I also informed the tech that ever since I upgraded from Norton Internet Security to Norton 360, my computer takes much longer to start up. The tech said he would help me fix both problems by remotely getting onto my computer. He first worked on the SPAM issue. He spent a long time doing this and it almost seemed he didn’t know what he was doing, or had to read up on it or something. After completing the issue he worked to speed up my computer. He said it was a Microsoft issue but he would fix it for me. He went in and deleted my Temp Files and then went into some Norton system folders and added “OLD” in front of them. I was thinking this was his way to fix some Norton Issues. He then had me reboot my computer. When it booted up it didn’t work any better. The tech told me it was the best he could do and to contact Microsoft, because it was a Microsoft issue. I disagreed because this problem only occurred when I upgraded to Norton 360.
    When I went onto Norton 360 it was not working and came up with error messages that said I needed to erase Norton 360 and reinstall it. The Tech had managed to screw up Norton 360 with all the things that he did. I was very upset. So I got back onto the Norton Website to chat with another tech which I gave my case number 20616027. He told me he had to get on my computer remotely and remove Norton 360 and reinstall it. It took a long time but he finally fixed my computer. In fact after the reinstallation my computer was working as fast and therefore like I expected, the issue was with Norton and not Microsoft.
    On Tuesday February 17, 2015 I received a call that came up “Unknown” on my cell phone. A guy asked for me by my first name. He said he was calling because he wanted to help fix the SPAM issue I was having. Right then I suspected something was not right because Norton Techs worked on it the day before and they are the only ones that knew about the email SPAM problem. This person even referred to the email address the SPAM was sent from. In addition I gave Norton my cell phone number for the first time, so it is interesting this person called my cell.
    I decided to play along. I said it would be great if they could help me. I asked what number he was calling me from. He said 844-999-9666. I asked what the name of his company was. He said “FIX BY TECH”. He even spelled out the name. I asked him what his name was and he said “Andrew Parker” which he also spelled out. He had a foreign accent so I figured that was not his real name. I then asked him how much this would cost. He said between $50 and $150 to fix. I said that would be good, what do I need to do? He asked if I could I go to my computer and turn it on so he could fix the problem? I said I could not do it right now, but I will do it and call him. He said if you call that number ask for Samantha who was the person in charge and she would get my computer fixed.
    I have a neighbor that had AVG Security on their computer but somehow contacted the “cryptolocker" virus a few weeks ago. I told them they should have purchased Norton Internet Security or Norton 360 to protect their computer. They purchased the program and installed it on their computer to try and fix the virus issue. It may have been too late for them to do, but regardless they contacted Norton for help. A technician worked on their computer but could not solve the problem. Interesting enough they received a call the next day from someone that said they could fix the computer. The Caller ID number was 631-353-4127. They said that Norton could not fix their problem but they could for $100 and wanted to know if they should proceed. When my neighbor got suspicious of the call and started asking questions, the person hung up.
    How are these people getting access to Norton Customers? I have lost all trust in Norton support. I believe there is criminal activity going on within this company. I contacted Norton and they are investigating but I wanted your readers to be aware of this issue. If you look on line you will see other people around the country are being contacted by these scam artists after talking to Norton Support.

  9. whocares

    I cant believe persons are still using worthless IE, ya'll need to upgrade to better browsers ever heard about mozilla and chrome! by the way EsetNod32 is the best security software(period)

  10. Jim

    So doesn't norton check these updates beforehand before sending out or don't they use internet explorer or can't they be bothered to check?

  11. Karl

    Perhaps Symantec, in a stroke of genius, have recognised 'Internet Explorer' as a vulnerability and, rather helpfully, prevented it from functioning. Hopefully the users who downloaded another browser program had a splendid experience and permentely discharged IE. Symantec quickly decided it was a bug after a backlash of users who do not recognise a buggy browser.

  12. Monte

    Here it is April 24. 2015, to report Norton Internet Security 2015 is still causing access to the internet to crash. Yesterday, I was online trying to make a purchase 3/4 of the way through the transaction MSIE froze. I was unable to get into my e-mail. I received a bubble notice that my computer was not protected by an anti virus program and sure enough Norton's AV had been disabled and I could not enable it. I tried the old reboot trick three times with no success. I used the troubleshoot internet connection to receive the note that Norton Inter Security had the solution to my problem. That really good news, but I couldn't get anywhere on the internet to resolve the issue. I uninstalled Norton Internet Security 2015 and all of a sudden I had my internet connection back. After I uninstalled the program I was shunted away to a Norton site and asked why I was uninstalling the program. How did I rate their software, a one, would I recommend the software to someone else, absolutely not = 1.The worst part is I've had the computer four months and bought a three year subscription which I gladly abandoned because I am not confident Norton's Internet Security 2015 won't cause other issues that won't be so easy to fix. Follow the advice above, do your research and think seriously before investing your hard earned dollars on Norton's products.

  13. William Kurtz

    Used Norton for about 20 years. Never had any problems.

  14. Babbs

    I have the newest and lastest updates to Norton's Internet Security, and my IE incessantly, 'stops working'. Add to it, my comp is miserably slower than ever. I am looking for a replacement and hopefully I'll end up with something that will have me up and going again. *Graham Cluley's page is awesome!

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