NEW YORK (AP) – Computers in companies, hospitals and schools around the world got stuck repeatedly rebooting themselves Wednesday after an antivirus program identified a normal Windows file as a virus.

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.

Details are somewhere on the internet but I lost the link. Sorry.

I wasn’t. Because I …. well, never mind.

H/T: Somebody, deleted email by accident. Sorry.


  1. #1 NewEnglandBob
    April 21, 2010

    Supposedly it was a corporate version update, not a general user update.

  2. #2 Joshua Zelinsky
    April 21, 2010

    I experienced it on a cluster machine earlier today. Oddly, the other machine in the cluster did not have the issue. I didn’t even realize that this was a non-local problem until I saw the news reports a few hours later.

    McAfee screwed up big time with this one.

  3. #3 Mike Bok
    April 21, 2010

    Most networked computers at my university were down today, but not my lab desktop. I haven’t updated my antivirus in years and have never had a problem. Not opening random, questionable files from the dark corners of the internet seems to be a pretty good anti-virus solution.

  4. #4 GoatRider
    April 21, 2010

    McAfee and Norton are worse than viruses, imo.

  5. #5 BruceH
    April 21, 2010

    Greg, I couldn’t follow your link for more details since I don’t have a scienceblogs admin account. (Methinks the link is wrong.)

  6. #6 D. C. Sessions
    April 22, 2010

    And another of the cow-orkers switched his company machine to Linux in large part because he can’t afford to waste several hours a week while the IS crew take it over for virus scans etc.

  7. #7 Canadian Curmudgeon
    April 23, 2010

    a normal Windows file as a virus

    This is news?

  8. #8 Shawn Smith
    April 23, 2010

    For people using McAfee ePolicy Orchestrator (ePO) the update that got automatically downloaded and applied (what ePO is supposed to do) looked at the start like a really bad worm. The file svchost.exe was the one that got marked as a virus and quarantined. My understanding (perhaps incorrect) is that it is the main way Windows starts up services, which is how various functions are enabled, like the network stack, USB ports, etc. At my job 7 of us spent about 3.5 – 4 hours touching all the PCs in the building getting things fixed. People were talking about shorting McAfee stock that day.