McAfee Antivirus gives Windows XP Autoimmune disorder….



Bad day for McAfee antivirus users….. It looks like the corporate users were bit the hardest. An update this morning basically detected svchost.exe as a virus and sent machines (Windows 7 not affected – but XP SP3 was…) into a perpetual reboot cycle. The fix requires manual intervention and some techs are reporting that the wait time for corporate users getting their machine back is several days.

If you’re sick and tired of McAfee and switching to something else you may want to visit the antivirus removal page to find the mcafee removal tool. (Not that I recommend you ditching McAfee over this, but I know how some people are.)

Here’s a link to the fix as McAfee has posted. Now of course…. many people use this as an opportunity to flame windows or McAfee and brag on their Mac or Linux box but what’s the real lesson that should be taken from this?


Diversity!

I know, from a technicians standpoint it’s really nice and convenient to have everybody running the same stack OS/antivirus/etc. Large licensing deals are cheaper per seat/etc. etc. This is why we really need options in computer operating systems, in antivirus and other security suites, in office suites, browsers, mail programs, etc.

I use linux primarily on all my home machines, which probably isn’t ideal. It’s the same release, which again, isn’t ideal. I tend to stagger the updates somewhat which helps somewhat to mitigate the risk of everything being taken down by a bad kernel update or something.

In reality having an entire business architecture with the same version and stack of operating system and antivirus is just waiting for a mass outage. Mistakes happen, even from antivirus vendors. I know a lot of people are upset with mcafee and frankly you would think this would be the type of thing that wouldn’t make it out of testing. That much said, it’s not hte first time an antivirus vendor has detected and removed legitimate (and crucial) files mistaking them for a virus. This kind of bug has bitten most all of the big antivirus names at one point or another although due to timing issues, users may have missed out.

Mac and Linux users typically don’t install antivirus these days (unless they’re using their systems to protect windows users.) But, there will be more malware for each as they gain marketshare. It won’t be quite like the mass outbreaks that Windows was faced with in the 90s. But malware for those systems will come. It’s just a matter of time (and market share.) When that day comes you’ll be glad to have a diversified network and not be too reliant on ONE OS.

Anyway – good luck getting back up and running!

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