For over five hours Friday, McAfee’s anti-virus software erroneously flagged hundreds of legitimate executables as a malicious virus, leading some customers to quarantine or delete the offending files and render applications such as Microsoft Excel inoperative.
I can’t think of anything that would embitter a user of a particular brand of security software than for that software to break their system. The software is run to prevent problems, not cause them. It’s not as if these were obscure applications whose files were flagged. Among the legitimate files painted as malware were Microsoft’s Excel spreadsheet, Adobe’s Flash, the Google Toolbar installer, several Adaptec drivers, and parts of Sun Microsystems’ Java Runtime Environment. The list that McAfee posted of the affected files numbers more than 330, but even so, the SANS Institute’s Internet Storm Center called it incomplete.
If you were unlucky enough to have your system set to delete the files rather than just quarantine them, you were basically screwed. Their response was that the best you could do would be to go to a backup or use XP’s system restore function. I don’t know that they had a better alternative, but neither of those are very pretty for most home users. McAfee has a corrected Virus definition file out there now, I am sure all those affected are will be looking for answers.
Posted by Jeff