June 13, 2006 3:48 PM PDT

Barracuda glitch leaves customers incommunicado

A faulty antivirus update left thousands of Barracuda Networks' customers without e-mail for hours on Tuesday.

More than three-quarters of the spam firewall company's 35,000 customers were affected by the hitch, Barracuda said. Their systems downloaded an incomplete antivirus update file just before 5 a.m. PDT, and as a result, their Barracuda appliances stopped all e-mail traffic and stored messages in a queue. A fixed file was sent out and service was fully operational about two hours later, the company said.

"What we have built in to our spam firewalls is a protection mechanism, so that when an incomplete virus definition comes through the system, it will queue the e-mail rather than send it. It hangs out and waits for the next virus update," said Stephen Pao, vice president of product management for Barracuda.

Barracuda, based in Mountain View, Calif., is known for affordable antispam appliances for businesses. The company stressed that the hitch was not an outage, as systems were actually working.

"The precautionary feature is not just there for incomplete virus definitions caused by operational issues at Barracuda Networks, but it also serves as a precautionary feature for sources from which we cull external virus definitions," company spokeswoman Kylie Heintz said. Virus definitions are the "fingerprints" defensive systems use to try to identify malicious software.

So many customers were affected because most use the virus-scanning capability and subscribe to Barracuda's hourly virus updates, the company said.

An operational version control issue with the update caused a partial definition to be downloaded on Tuesday, Pao said.

The Barracuda Spam Firewalls themselves were not breached by a virus, nor was Barracuda's system actually out for any period of time, Pao said. Customers were not exposed to any threats in any way while the system kept e-mail in a holding pattern, he added.

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Barracuda Networks, firewall company, virus definition, anti-spam, virus

6 comments

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Not an outage?
"The company stressed that the hitch was not an outage, as systems were actually working."

That's not what our CTO was telling us this morning.
Posted by andydba (1 comment )
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Maybe they should check their definition of outage
My company got hit and maybe they are a bit grey on the definition of outage, it was a service outage, who cares if the hardware was up I pay them for the service of quickly and efficiently delivering spam and virus free email.
I hope they are going to handle this situation a lot more openly. When the outage happened no one could be reached on their support team at all, all their lines were down. I got the info from a colleague who got it from a friend of a friend.
Posted by actionjacks (2 comments )
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So when's a service outage not an outage?
My company got hit and maybe they are a bit grey on the definition of outage, it was a service outage, who cares if the hardware was up I pay them for the service of quickly and efficiently delivering spam and virus free email.
I hope they are going to handle this situation a lot more openly. When the outage happened no one could be reached on their support team at all, all their lines were down. I got the info from a colleague who got it from a friend of a friend.
Posted by actionjacks (2 comments )
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Problem was easily fixed
A little deductive reasoning should have led an Admin to rollback the virus definitions to the previous one (as the device stores at least 1 previous update in case of a bad energizer update), which would have gotten most businesses up and running in a very short period of time. Barracuda generally delivers their virus updates virtually every day, so rolling back to a previous day's virus definitions should not expose the company to undue risks.
Posted by 206538395198018178908092208948 (141 comments )
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secure email options
It's tricky securing communication and directly dealing with a server which routes and stores your email. Not every security option fits every company or every department there are other options out there <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.essentialsecurity.com/yourbusiness.htm" target="_newWindow">http://www.essentialsecurity.com/yourbusiness.htm</a>
Posted by marileev (292 comments )
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frankly i find the barracuda web filter pathetic..im 16 and in only my sophmore year and can already terminate it from any computer i access..
Kyler
West High
MT
email me if you have any questions on how to make you web filter any better
Kyler_ky@yahoo.com
Posted by antidisastablishmentarism (1 comment )
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