McAfee's antivirus causes widespread damage

Here we go again with another one of them

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

A bug ridden update, released by McAfee on Wednesday morning - April 21st 2010 - for its antivirus software, has inadvertently caused computers running the Microsoft Windows XP operating system to crash or to repeatedly reboot.

There has been report of major damage worldwide: hospitals have turned away non-trauma patients at A&E and postponed some elective surgeries. Police have resorted to writing reports by hand and turning off their patrol car terminals and the University of Michigan's medical school reported that 8,000 of its 25,000 computers crashed.

The damage occurs as the McAfee antivirus software mistakes a legitimate operating system component for a malware virus, in a similar way that a disease can cause the human immune system to turn on itself.

But this is hardly new. BitDefender had problems similar to that about a year or so ago and other expensive paid-for anti-virus software has had too. The same happened with ZoneAlarm or better, in the latter case, it was a patch from Windows that caused the problems.

Even with AVG there has been a problem – once, since I have used it, and I have been using it for many years - when it caused a problem due to a component that had gone "rogue", for lack of a better word.

It would appear, though, that many of the highly touted paid-for AV programs come up with such issues again and again, despite of their effectiveness claims.

I also still remember when friends and colleagues using Norton caught virus after virus while AVG FREE swatted them all. It is not always that you get what you pay for. Sometime the paid-for programs are no better, often worse, than free and especially open source, software. Not that AVG is open source, but...

© 2010