Quite suddenly, computers across the United States went into a state of ‘hang’ and started to boot themselves repeatedly. This was due to a certain anti-virus program from McAfee which started to identify a usual window file as a virus. This caused a lot of anxiety in computer users as they feared that they would lose information from their PC. Consequently the anti-virus vendor McAfee confirmed that one of their software updates created a condition where a harmless file started to be misidentified as a virus. The vendor could not confirm as to how many computers have been affected by this, but it was assumed from the various online postings that hundreds if not thousands of computers had been going through the same kind of problem.

Antivirus Software gone wrong?

This glitch disrupted work of all the installations through-out the United States and caused a great concern in local government and other offices, including those used by different police establishments and some school systems. Some of the schools like the Bullitt County schools didn’t lose information nor had any computer crashes. The classes in these schools were not disrupted. However, according to the district technology coordinator, the disruption caused inconveniences and productivity was restrained for most of the day.

Effects of the Glitch

This disruption did not stop business, but it was quite unusual when employees in various county offices switched off their computers as the IT technician started to look into the so called virus problem. Computers all over were shut down while the technical staff went on looking at what caused the failure. All the networks were switched off till the problem was isolated. However, if a virus was really present it would not have done any good by shutting off all the computers including the network. It would not stop spreading by doing this.

McAfee confirmed the glitch in one of their updates, and after this disruption they consequently posted a replacement update for download. The program previously downloaded sent the network technicians into over-drive and also limited the functions of the computers that offices could perform. Employees had to re-enter data from paperwork into the computers after the matter got resolved. Several of the county computers lost information during the time of the glitch. The dispatchers lost the ability to track calls electronically, and the officers had all the computers in their squad cars malfunctioning.

The Resolution

The vendor released the update at 6 AM on April 21, but came to know about the serious problem not until the afternoon. By that time this problem hit practically all the computers around the country. There was a new virus definition that was affecting Microsoft Windows XP service pack 3, and McAfee released a software update which caused problems. This update caused commotion throughout the US when it started to identify a Windows file as a virus. All the computers had at first come up with blue monitor screens and then crashed. Indeed if a valid Windows file is stopped from working as a part of the operating system, the computers are likely to crash.