Feeds

'Catastrophic' Avira antivirus update bricks Windows PCs

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

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

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. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
SMASH the Bash bug! Apple and Red Hat scramble for patch batches
'Applying multiple security updates is extremely difficult'
Apple's new iPhone 6 vulnerable to last year's TouchID fingerprint hack
But unsophisticated thieves need not attempt this trick
Hackers thrash Bash Shellshock bug: World races to cover hole
Update your gear now to avoid early attacks hitting the web
Oracle SHELLSHOCKER - data titan lists unpatchables
Database kingpin lists 32 products that can't be patched (yet) as GNU fixes second vuln
Who.is does the Harlem Shake
Blame it on LOLing XSS terroristas
Researchers tell black hats: 'YOU'RE SOOO PREDICTABLE'
Want to register that domain? We're way ahead of you.
Stunned by Shellshock Bash bug? Patch all you can – or be punished
UK data watchdog rolls up its sleeves, polishes truncheon
Ello? ello? ello?: Facebook challenger in DDoS KNOCKOUT
Gets back up again after half an hour though
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
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.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
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.