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QA Problems At Fault For McAfee Antivirus Errors

April 23, 2010

Quality control changes are to blame for a faulty McAfee anti-virus software update that left computers all around the world stuck in endless reboot cycles, the company is reporting.

An automated update sent out on Wednesday mistakenly identified a common Windows system file as a virus, according to AFP reports. The problem effected users who had the Windows XP system with Service Pack 3, causing countless problems at businesses, hospitals, schools, supermarkets, and other institutions both in the United States and abroad.

“The problem arose during the testing process for this DAT file,” Barry McPherson, McAfee’s executive vice president of worldwide technical support and customer service, said in an online statement posted late Thursday evening. “We recently made a change to our QA (quality assurance) environment that resulted in a faulty DAT making its way out of our test environment and onto customer systems.”

So what exactly happened?

According to Gregg Keizer of ComputerWorld.com, “Short answer: McAfee screwed up”¦ The long answer is more complicated. Wednesday’s update”¦ was meant to detect and destroy a relatively minor threat, the ‘W32/wecorl.a’ virus. Instead, it went rogue, wrongly fingered the critical ‘svchost.exe’ file in Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) as malware, and then quarantined it by removing it from its normal location. In some cases, the update actually deleted the file.”

A corrected update was made available for download later in the day.

“We estimate that the majority of the affected systems are back up and running at this time and more systems are coming back online quickly,” McPherson said in the online statement.

“To prevent this from happening again, we are implementing additional QA protocols for any releases that directly impact critical system files,” he added. “On behalf of McAfee, I’m very sorry for how you may have been impacted by the faulty DAT file update.”

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