Feeds

McAfee false-positive glitch fells PCs worldwide

When AV attacks

High performance access to file storage

IT admins across the globe are letting out a collective groan after servers and PCs running McAfee VirusScan were brought down when the anti-virus program attacked their core system files. In some cases, this caused the machines to display the dreaded blue screen of death.

Details are still coming in, but forums here and here show that it's affecting McAfee customers in Germany, Italy, and elsewhere. A UK-based Reg reader, who asked to remain anonymous because he was not authorized by his employer to speak to the press, said the glitch simultaneously leveled half of a customer's 140 machines after they updated to the latest virus signature file.

"Literally half of the machines were down with this McAfee anti-virus message IDing valid programs as having this trojan," the IT consultant said. "Literally half the office switched off their PCs and were just twiddling their thumbs."

When the consultant returned to his office he was relieved that his own laptop, which also uses VirusScan, was working normally. Then, suddenly, when it installed the latest McAfee DAT file, his computer was also smitten. The anti-virus program identified winvnc.exe and several other legitimate files as malware and attempted to quarantine them. With several core system files out of commission, the machine was rendered an expensive paperweight.

A McAfee representative in the US didn't immediately respond to phone calls seeking comment. Friday is a holiday for many US employees in observance of Saturday's Independence Day.

Based on anecdotes, the glitch appears to be caused when older VirusScan engines install DAT 5664, which McAfee seems to have pushed out in the past 24 hours. Affected systems then begin identifying a wide variety of legitimate - and frequently crucial - system files as malware. Files belonging to Microsoft Internet Explorer, drivers for Compaq computers, and even the McAfee-associated McScript.exe were being identified as a trojan called PWS!hv.aq, according to the posts and interviews.

We're still trying to determine how widespread this false-positive glitch is being felt and whether people have found any reliable fixes. If you have insight, please leave a comment below. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Parent gabfest Mumsnet hit by SSL bug: My heart bleeds, grins hacker
Natter-board tells middle-class Britain to purée its passwords
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Web data BLEEDOUT: Users to feel the pain as Heartbleed bug revealed
Vendors and ISPs have work to do updating firmware - if it's possible to fix this
Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner hacked in just 4 DAYS
Sammy's newbie cooked slower than iPhone, also costs more to build
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Call of Duty 'fragged using OpenSSL's Heartbleed exploit'
So it begins ... or maybe not, says one analyst
Snowden-inspired crypto-email service Lavaboom launches
German service pays tribute to Lavabit
German space centre endures cyber attack
Chinese code retrieved but NSA hack not ruled out
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.