McAfee Update Cripples Windows XP SP3 Computers
Article by George Norman
On 22 Apr 2010
McAfee, company that specializes in providing security software solutions for home and business users, has recently updates its antivirus application for corporate users – which is good. But the update crippled computers powered by the Microsoft-developed Windows XP operating system – which is bad. Universities, hospitals and businesses across the US reported problems after getting the update – which is also bad.

Windows XP SP3 (Service Pack 3) powered computers protected by McAfee’s antivirus program started to reboot – continually – after the antivirus was updated. The problem stemmed from the fact that McAfee’s antivirus program erroneously identified Svchost.exe as a virus and deleted it.

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There is an upside to this story. First of all, the problem only hit McAfee’s corporate customers. As a regular Joe, I am glad to find out that the consumer versions of McAfee’s antivirus program were not affected. Secondly, the problem was detected quite rapidly. Later the same day, McAfee took down the faulty update from its servers an replaced it with another update.

The first update was released yesterday, the 21st of April, at 2.00 PM GMT+1 (6AM Pacific Time). It was taken down only a few hours later.

“Mistakes happen. No excuses. The nearly 7,000 employees of McAfee are focused right now on two things, in this order. First, help our customers who have been affected by this issue get back to business as usual. And second, once that is done, make sure we put the processes in place so this never happens again,” commented Executive Vice President of Worldwide Technical Support and Customer Service for McAfee, Barry McPherson.

As DownlaodSquad’s Lee Mathews, explained, this major false positive is a serious hit to McAfee’s image as a provider of security software solutions. This incident may very well determine some admins to consider switching to another security software provider.

“Yes, McAfee has released a fix -- but it's one that has be applied hands-on at each affected computer. That's going to create serious pains-in-the-ass for loads of admins and technicians around the globe -- and pissed off admins are never averse to switching software when it decides to create a titanic load of extra work for them,” said Mathews.

ZDNet’s Ed Bott explains just how much of a pain this false positive was: “I’m not sure any virus writer has ever developed a piece of malware that shut down as many machines as quickly as McAfee did.”



Tags: McAfee, False Positive, Update, Security, Windows, XP, Service Pack 3
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
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