Feeds

McAfee false positive bricks enterprise PCs worldwide

World of hurt

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

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. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
'Kim Kardashian snaps naked selfies with a BLACKBERRY'. *Twitterati gasps*
More alleged private, nude celeb pics appear online
Home Depot ignored staff warnings of security fail laundry list
'Just use cash', former security staffer warns friends
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
UK.gov lobs another fistful of change at SME infosec nightmares
Senior Lib Dem in 'trying to be relevant' shocker. It's only taxpayers' money, after all
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
TOR users become FBI's No.1 hacking target after legal power grab
Be afeared, me hearties, these scoundrels be spying our signals
Snowden, Dotcom, throw bombs into NZ election campaign
Claim of tapped undersea cable refuted by Kiwi PM as Kim claims extradition plot
Freenode IRC users told to change passwords after securo-breach
Miscreants probably got in, you guys know the drill by now
THREE QUARTERS of Android mobes open to web page spy bug
Metasploit module gobbles KitKat SOP slop
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.