Feeds

'Catastrophic' Avira antivirus update bricks Windows PCs

rundll32.exe? cmd.exe? You clearly don't need those

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

Security software biz Avira has apologised after its antivirus suites went haywire and disabled customers' Windows machines.

A service pack issued in Monday caused its ProActiv monitoring software to think vital operating system processes were riddled with malware and blocked them from running.

Users of the affected products - Avira Professional Security, Avira Internet Security 2012 and Avira Antivirus Premium 2012 - were left with malfunctioning or inoperable systems after they applied the dodgy update. A fix has since been issued.

Components reportedly blocked included iexplore.exe, notepad.exe and regedit.exe, plus applications including Microsoft Office and Google Updater were also sin-binned.

Unsurprisingly Avira's support forums quickly filled up with posts by frustrated punters. "This update has been pretty catastrophic," one small business user complained. "The whole company ground to a standstill."

Avira responded by withdrawing the malfunctioning update, Service Pack 0 (SP0) for Avira Version 2012, and issuing a replacement upgrade. In an advisory, Avira said it "deeply regrets" the inconvenience customers have experienced as the result of the snafu. It goes on to explain how users can disable its ProActiv behavioural monitoring technology in case it goes nuts again.

From time to time antivirus signatures, used to identify malware inside files, cause headaches for vendors when they report false positive matches. Things get really messy in cases where core Windows components, rather than just third-party apps, are wrongly labelled as potentially malign. Screwing up a signature pack is one thing, but Avira's mixup involves a major software update, raising questions over why the blunder was not caught during pre-release testing.

Avira is best known as a supplier of freebie Windows antivirus scanners to consumers in competition with the likes of AVG and Avast. The German firm uses its presence in this market to help it sell paid-for products to consumers and small businesses. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Israel's Iron Dome missile tech stolen by Chinese hackers
Corporate raiders Comment Crew fingered for attacks
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
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
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
Four fake Google haxbots hit YOUR WEBSITE every day
Goog the perfect ruse to slip into SEO orfice
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
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.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.