New McAfee virus update freezes Windows

"It can cause the CPU (central processing unit) utilisation of the machine to go to 100 per cent, effectively freezing the system for an extended period of time," said Simon Leech, an Amsterdam-based security engineer for Network Associates.

The problem occurs when virus definition file 4102, which was released on Nov. 1, is installed on a machine running VirusScan engine version 4.0.02. The scan engine and the definition file are incompatible.

"We update our engine roughly every three months. Unfortunately we have discovered this definition file doesn't work with this engine," Leech said. The current scan engine version is 4.0.70.

When the computer is restarted the incompatibility causes the system to freeze. On servers running Microsoft's Windows NT the administrator can stop the anti-virus service remotely from another machine using the server manager, or use a tool from the resource kit to remotely kill the service, Leech suggested. On desktop computers the user can start Windows in Safe Mode and disable VirusScan.

After getting access to the system the scan engine will have to be updated manually. "Updates of the scan engine are free," said Leech.

"Version 4.0.02 is a more than two year-old version of our engine. We generally do not test new definition files with engines over two years old," Leech said to explain the cause of the problems. "With all the hype around viruses lately we were hoping our customers would have already updated their scan engines."

Leech couldn't say how many customers were affected by the incompatibility. "Some companies, large as well as small and around the world, have had the problem. We are still assessing the exact number," Leech said.

Computer users who have not updated their antivirus engines for several years, however, may be in for a nasty surprise, Leech said. "Those customers have a false sense of security. Their systems could be infected with all kinds of viruses like Melissa and Love Letter." New versions of the scan engines are made to detect newer viruses. "Love Letter and Melissa required an engine update," Leech said.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Joris Evers

PC World
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?