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PCs Crash Across Campus and the World

Faulty McAfee update keeps users off-line


Michael Krugman, IS&T associate vice president, says IS&T took early action to limit BU’s exposure, and hopes the impact won’t be as significant at BU as elsewhere. Photo by Kalman Zabarsky

Last week, a cloud of volcanic ash from a volcano in Iceland shut down air travel across Europe. Now a glitch in McAfee antivirus software has shut down personal computers, freezing workplaces around the world.

Michael Krugman, Information Services & Technology (IS&T) associate vice president, said the McAfee misfire probably affected hundreds, if not more, of PC users at Boston University. It had no effect on Mac users.

“This is a national, if not global, problem related to a bug in McAfee antivirus software on XP systems, specifically running the latest version of McAfee antivirus software (McAfee Virus Scan 8.70i),” Krugman wrote in an e-mail sent to students, faculty, and staff.

“IS&T took early action on campus to limit our exposure,” said Krugman. “We are hoping the impact won’t be as significant at BU as elsewhere.”

Last night, IS&T sent an e-mail advising BU network users that ithad developed a remediation procedure for the issue and outlining thesteps to take. Those with affected computers should contact their localIT support person or group. IS&T advised users with no local ITsupport group to go to www.bu.edu/help and enter a ticket or to call the IT Help Center Service Desk at 617-353-HELP (4357), where a staff member can enter a ticket.

John Bodi, an administrator at Information Systems Planning & Support , said the problem file was included in a nightly update sent by McAfee, intended to protect computers running on XP systems from bugs. In this case, however, the antivirus software misidentified a harmless file and prevented computers from booting up.

Some users reported that their computers were restarting without a task bar or that they were only able to cut and paste.

Leo Paré, a senior staff assistant for marketing and communications in the Athletics Department, said a quarter of the people in his department were affected by the glitch. An error message appeared on their screens with a countdown clock marking when computers would shut down, Paré said. When they restarted, no one could log on.

Paré called it a “hiccup” in the workday. He said the staff switched to paper and pencil or stuck with Photoshop. “We’re going back to basics,” he said. “We just unplugged from the network.”

Leslie Friday can be reached at lfriday@bu.edu; follow her on Twitter at @lesliefriday.


One Comment on PCs Crash Across Campus and the World

  • Anonymous on 04.22.2010 at 12:38 pm

    McAfee is the worst program in the history of PCs

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