A Case of Mistaken Identity

Yesterday, computers around the world were stuck in a reboot cycle when a McAfee Anti-Virus update tagged a legitimate windows system file as being a virus. According to Foxnews:

McAfee Inc. confirmed that a software update it posted at 9 a.m. Eastern time caused its antivirus program for corporate customers to misidentify a harmless file. It has posted a replacement update for download.

McAfee could not say how many computers were affected, but judging by online postings, the number was at least in the thousands and possibly in the hundreds of thousands.

It appears that the problem was in the corporate version of the software, and not the home version. In some cases, technicians had to fix each individual machine as remote updates were not working. The problem was very disruptive and affected industries across the board. 

The computer problem forced about a third of the hospitals in Rhode Island to postpone elective surgeries and stop treating patients without traumas in emergency rooms, said Nancy Jean, a spokeswoman for the Lifespan system of hospitals. The system includes Rhode Island Hospital, the state’s largest, and Newport Hospital. Jean said patients who required treatment for gunshot wounds, car accidents, blunt trauma and other potentially fatal injuries were still being admitted to the emergency rooms.

In Kentucky, state police were told to shut down the computers in their patrol cars as technicians tried to fix the problem. The National Science Foundation headquarters in Arlington, Va., also lost computer access.

Computers are in every aspect of our lives now, and computer outages, including unintentional ones, can be very costly in time and service availability. See Foxnews for the full article.


3 thoughts on “A Case of Mistaken Identity”

  1. Wasn’t too long ago and Avast! sent out a virus definition update that tagged some core files. I ran a boot level scan and my PC went insane! I went to their website and found that they were in the process of fixing it. Took them a couple of hours and all was well, but I know a couple people who had multi-machine environments and they lost days worth of productivity. Ouch!

    1. I hear you Philo, when I used to do a lot of field service network support, I dreaded “Black Tuesdays” (when Microsoft released updates) and when anti-virus quick fixes would come out in response to an exploit.

      I’ve spent many hours pulling my hair out when the “fixes” broke core services. It is amazing that I have hair left! Granted that it is mostly grey now, lol…

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