Feeds

McAfee false positive bricks enterprise PCs worldwide

World of hurt

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

Enterprise customers of a widely used McAfee anti-virus product were in a world of hurt on Wednesday after an update caused large swaths of their machines to become completely inoperable.

The problem started around 2 pm GMT when McAfee pushed out DAT 5958 to users of VirusScan Enterprise. The virus definition falsely identifies a core Windows file as infected, quarantines it and then shuts down the machine. When restarted, the PCs are unable to load Windows, a glitch that mires them in an endless reboot cycle.

"We support customers' platforms, and it means we are currently unable to do that," said the head of infrastructure security for a worldwide IT firm who asked not to be identified because he's not authorized to speak to the press. "Basically, our engineers are currently unable to work."

In a statement, McAfee said the false positive "can result in moderate to significant performance issues" on machines running Windows XP service pack 3, and that the defective definition has been removed from download servers. The infrastructure security head said XP machines running SP 1 and SP 2 were also affected.

"McAfee teams are working with the highest priority to support impacted customers and plan to provide an update virus definition file shortly," the statement continued. "McAfee apologizes for any inconvenience to our customers."

Judging from comments left on McAfee support forums, the snafu is causing considerable problems for many customers.

"How much longer before McAfee finds a fix or has the update 5959 to resolve this problem?" one admin wrote. "We are a school district and have over 5000 computers being effected by this DAT file. This Extra.dat files looks like it will work but guess what the 5958 update has already been applied so this will not work for us."

The infrastructure security head, who was working in one of his firm's UK offices, said about 30 percent of the company's PCs were affected, in part because admins disconnected working machines from the network after learning about the glitch. So far, his team has been able to bring only about 5 percent of the disabled machines back online.

The snafu causes VirusScan Enterprise to falsely flag svchost.exe as infected with malware known as Wecorl.a. More from the Sans Institute here. ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

More from The Register

next story
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
NEW, SINISTER web tracking tech fingerprints your computer by making it draw
Have you been on YouPorn lately, perhaps? White House website?
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Black Hat anti-Tor talk smashed by lawyers' wrecking ball
Unmasking hidden users is too hot for Carnegie-Mellon
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
Own a Cisco modem or wireless gateway? It might be owned by someone else, too
Remote code exec in HTTP server hands kit to bad guys
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.