Skip to main content

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 (opens in new tab) 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.

Adam Hadhazy is a contributing writer for Live Science and He often writes about physics, psychology, animal behavior and story topics in general that explore the blurring line between today's science fiction and tomorrow's science fact. Adam has a Master of Arts degree from the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Boston College. When not squeezing in reruns of Star Trek, Adam likes hurling a Frisbee or dining on spicy food. You can check out more of his work at