Today isn't a good day for McAfee users running Windows XP SP3

Virus protection software like Norton Antivirus and McAfee Total Protection are supposed to protect your personal machines (along with corporate machines) -- they're not supposed to wreak havoc on your system. Well, McAfee has quite a crisis on its hands today and we're sure that IT admins across the globe are probably going crazy right now.

According to the New York Times, McAfee issued a routine software update today (5958 DAT) which detected a false positive for the w32/wecorl.a virus in svchost.exe. As a result, McAfee deletes the file and systems running Windows XP SP3 began a continuous reboot into hell.

McAfee has issued the following statement regarding the serious problem according to Krebs on Security:

McAfee is aware that a number of customers have incurred a false positive error due to incorrect malware alerts on Wednesday, April 21. The problem occurs with the 5958 virus definition file (DAT) that was released on April 21 at 2.00 PM GMT+1 (6am Pacific Time).

Our initial investigation indicates that the error can result in moderate to significant performance issues on systems running Windows XP Service Pack 3.

The faulty update has been removed from McAfee download servers for corporate users, preventing any further impact on those customers. We are not aware of significant impact on consumer customers and believe we have effectively limited such occurrence.

McAfee teams are working with the highest priority to support impacted customers and plan to provide an update virus definition file shortly. McAfee apologizes for any inconvenience to our customers.

For those that need an immediate fix for the problem, please visit this McAfee webpage for detailed steps to get your machine up and running. Unfortunately for now, it appears that this fix must be applied to each and every machine individually and cannot be deployed from a central location – oops.

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