McAfee Apologizes for Crippling Customers' Computers

Computer antivirus software maker McAfee, Inc. has apologized for sending out a botched update Wednesday morning that caused thousands of computers to crash worldwide.

"I want to apologize on behalf of McAfee and say that we’re extremely sorry for any impact the faulty signature update file may have caused you and your organizations," wrote Barry McPherson, McAfee's executive vice president of support and customer service, in a company blog post yesterday.

Corporate customers, such as hospitals, schools and businesses, which had PCs running both Windows XP Service Pack 3 and McAfee's VirusScan Enterprise were affected. Consumer versions for at-home machines avoided the perpetual cycle of reboots and lost network connections that crippled these enterprise clients' PCs.

The Associated Press reported that McAfee clients ranging from Rhode Island Hospital to the National Science Foundation to Intel had some of their computers sidelined by the flawed update.

According to McAfee, the update mistakenly identified a system file called "svchost.exe" as being infected with a malware virus. Though details are sketchy, for now McAfee is chalking up the source of the problem to poor in-house quality assurance.

A fix went out early Thursday morning that McAfee said has restored most zapped computers. The company has taken further measures to help get computers up and running and to prevent such erroneous detection of critical system files as viruses in the future.