McAfee security update crashes corporate XP machines

A defective security update issued by a very red-faced McAfee has reportedly crashed thousands of corporate XP machines worldwide.

The shutdowns were apparently triggered by DAT 5958, which deletes the svchost.exe file, leading to subsequent restarts and loss network functionality.

“Yeah, wild – Twitter is basically going nuts, and McAfee’s support site appears to be down. There are some fixes floating around out there, but it may be too late – the final tally of borked PCs today may reach into the millions,” wrote Engadget’s Nilay Patel.

“We’ve already heard anecdotally that an Intel facility has been affected, as well as Dish Network call centers, and we’re sure there are going to be more reports as the day wears on…The anecdotal numbers keep rolling in, and they’re not small – 30,000 machines are knocked out here, 60,000 there.”

Meanwhile, McAffee has confirmed that the update was pulled from its corporate download servers and emphasized that consumers shouldn’t be affected.

“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. McAfee teams are working with the highest priority to support impacted customers and plan to provide an update virus definition file shortly.”