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McAfee Antivirus Program Goes Berserk, Freezes PCs [nytimes.com]
Computers in companies, hospitals and schools around the world got stuck repeatedly rebooting themselves Wednesday after an antivirus program identified a normal Windows file as a virus.
McAfee Inc. confirmed that a software update it posted at 9 a.m. Eastern time caused its antivirus program for corporate customers to misidentify a harmless file. It has posted a replacement update for download.
McAfee could not say how many computers were affected, but judging by online postings, the number was at least in the thousands and possibly in the hundreds of thousands.
McAfee said it did not appear that consumer versions of its software caused similar problems. It is investigating how the error happened ''and will take measures'' to prevent it from recurring, the company said in a statement.
The worst nightmare is upgrading every computer in the office to Vista ... labor-intensively and manually, one by one.
Barry McPherson, executive vice president of support and customer service, issued the apology on behalf of McAfee, saying the company was sorry for the headaches it caused for so many customers.
He also detailed the fix that McAfee quickly patched together for early Thursday morning. The SuperDAT Remediation Tool stifles the updated driver that creates the false positive and then restores the svchost.exe file. McAfee said support reps are available for anyone who needs further help.
How did this problem occur in the first place? The short answer: poor testing. McAfee recently changed its quality assurance process, leading to the buggy DAT file to get past the test environment and onto the PCs of customers, MacPherson said.
Sure, it still drives, but it doesn't have all the cool new features, improved safety and uses way too much gas compared to the newer models.