An update to the popular McAfee anti-virus software has left many owners of PCs running Windows XP SP3 unable to use their machines.
Software such as McAfee automatically updates its virus definitions (parameters by which the program identifies and isolated potentially malicious files) every time it boots. However, the most recent update incorrectly identified svchost.exe – a key part of the XP operating system – as a potential threat.
As a result, it then blocks access to the file, crashing XP and forcing into an endless reboot cycle.
Around 40 per cent of all XP machines running McAfee software are said to be effected. McAfee spokesperson Joris Evers stated: “We're investigating how it was possible some customers were impacted and some not.”
PC World reports that the problems have reached all corners of the world, with US state Iowa suffering a loss of its 911 emergency response systems. Many companies have also reported significant disruption.
“I have talked to literally hundreds of my colleagues around the world and emailed thousands to try and find the best way to correct these issues,” McAfee’s executive VP of support Barry McPherson added.
“Let me say this has not been my favourite day. Not for me, or for McAfee. Not by a long shot.”