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04 July 2009, 19:31

McAfee update brings systems down again - Update

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The current signature update from McAfee, the security firm, has apparently caused the shedding of sweat and tears by the world's system administrators. Scanners that downloaded and installed the "DAT 5664" update yesterday, 3 July, ran amok by the dozen, wrongly identifying driver files required by computer systems as the "PWS!" trojan and quarantining them. According to initial reports on Help desk forums, the consequences included the blue screen of death and many a stumbling company server.

Administrators noted that the false alarm only occurred with older versions of the McAfee scan engine, but some reports sound dramatic. One company engineer said the situation with the infrastructure he looks after, consisting of 150 servers and 8000 PCs, was out of control for a time. Another wrote on the McAfee Help desk forum, "We've been working with 4 specialists for 16 hours without a break. McAfee: THANKS-A-LOT!"

This breakdown is all the more intriguing because McAfee dropped a similar clanger just a few weeks ago. An error in Patch 1 for McAfee VirusScan Enterprise v8.7i, issued in late May 2009, caused severe problems. On updated PCs, the scanner wrongly "discovered" a worm in several Windows XP and Vista system files, and either deleted or moved them, causing the PCs to hang or grind interminably when rebooted.

Update - According to a letter to a McAfee Platinum Support customer, it is only the version 5100 scanner engine which has the problem. The official support for this engine version had already expired on the 31st of January 2008. However, a report reports in the McAfee support forums stating that version 5300 of the engine was also affected, could not be confirmed.


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