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McAfee splats bug that knocked punters offline

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Antivirus maker McAfee has fixed a problem that cut off punters' internet connections earlier this week.

The snafu, caused by a dodgy update for the Intel-owned malware whack-a-mole product, also knackered enterprise versions although it didn't send users offline. For both the consumer and business builds, the error was traced back to buggy virus definition files, specifically those numbered 6807 and 6808. Fixing the problem involves applying newer functioning updates.

Among those hit were users of BT's broadband service, which bundles McAfee security technology, prompting the telco to advise customers to reinstall the security software (branded as BT NetProtect Plus) on Monday.

McAfee's corresponding confession is here. As an FAQ on the bug explains, affected customers were either left without a functioning internet connection or unable to perform any actions in the McAfee Security Center console.

"This problem caused me hours of frustration and anguish, and almost cost me a new router," Scott, a Reg reader who gave us a heads-up on the gaffe, said.

McAfee also published a preliminary advisory with workarounds for users of its VirusScan Enterprise 8.8 corporate security software. A more detailed note issued on Wednesday provides a more complete fix for sysadmins to apply.

Misfiring definition updates are a well-known Achilles' Heel of security scanners, akin to punctures in pneumatic tyres, and all vendors experience problems in this area from time to time. ®

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