In most cases, software updates fix a program or repair a security hole. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. A recent McAfee update left many users struggling to fix broken computers.
The McAfee updates were called DAT 6807 and DAT 6808. The updates affected both home and business users, which means that thousands of McAfee users around the world were affected by the update.
The updates were released August 17, and after the antivirus software automatically installed the updates, users immediately began to encounter serous errors. Instead of spotting legitimate threats and shutting them down, the McAfee Security Center console prevented users from doing anything on their computer. Users couldn’t access the internet, for example.
Obviously, nobody likes being without internet access. But fixing a computer problem without internet access is like trying to find your way through a maze in the dark: sure, it’s possible, but it’s significantly harder.
Quick-thinking McAfee users were able to uninstall the antivirus software, restart their computers, and then download a new update of the software from the official McAfee website. Of course, this left many users critically unprotected, and corporate users were forced to lose hours of their day trying to fix the problem.
The problem occurred on Friday, and it took until Monday for McAfee to solve the problem for Enterers customers, which represent the business core of McAfee’s antivirus software. That is an incredibly long time for a business network to be without antivirus support, and it left many businesses critically under-protected.
According to McAfee, the problem occurred with the on-access scanner, which checks all system components for signs of malware. Instead of just labelling a few system components as being malicious, the on-access scanner (OAS) went rogue and started labelling everything as malware.
McAfee’s forums were a hotbed of rage after the problem. One business user claimed that 46 out of 152 computers on the network were having this issue, and another user claimed that he had gone over 24 hours without a solution – which is a very long time for a corporate antivirus network to be out.
Fortunately, McAfee isn’t alone when it comes to making business users angry. Earlier this year, a Symantec update knocked out corporate antivirus software for an entire day before it was fixed. Although that is far less time than the McAfee outage, each case represents a serious lapse in the responsibilities of corporate antivirus software.
To solve this problem in the future, some computer security experts have suggested implementing a test system onto the network which would test all antivirus updates before they are rolled out the rest of the network. This would prevent dangerous updates from being spread, but it would also take up a significant amount of time and resources – and besides, update testing should be the job of the antivirus supplier, not the customer.
Ultimately, it’s important to choose the right antivirus software whether you’re a home or a business user. If you want to minimize the amount of downtime your antivirus network experiences, however, then maybe you should avoid working with products from Symantec and McAfee.