McAfee Anti Virus Update Hoses PCs [UPDATED]

If you’ve got McAfee Anti Virus installed on your PCs and your PCs are still working, consider yourself lucky. The word on the street is that one of their more recent updates (which has been removed from their download servers) will hose your PC. According to this knowledgebase article, the update makes McAfee think that a critical Windows file called svchost.exe is dangerous. Once it kills the file and restarts the computer, you will not be able to boot up again. This in the anti virus world is called a false positive. They tried to limit the damage on their blog:

McAfee is aware that a number of customers have incurred a false positive error due to this release. We believe that this incident has impacted less than one half of one percent of our enterprise accounts globally and a fraction of that within the consumer base–home users of products such as McAfee VirusScan Plus, McAfee Internet Security Suite and McAfee Total Protection. That said, if you’re one of those impacted, this is a significant event for you and we understand that.

I guess they haven’t seen some of the press that’s floating around at the moment.

Now to be fair, this could happen to any anti virus vendor and this is perhaps more common than you may think. But anytime something like this happens, it is a major public relations nightmare. One has to wonder if this will cause people to flee to another product. There are several free options such as Microsoft Security Essentials as well as AVG to name two. Not to mention many paid options as well.

Expect to see McAfee’s market share tank in the short term.

UPDATE: News.com is reporting that a chain of grocery stores in Australia was hit by this and some of their stores were forced to close as a result. Not good PR for McAfee IMHO.

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