McAfee Antivirus Tool Blocks Internet Access

UPDATE: Some NAI customers are up in arms over an update for one of the company's antivirus products that is preventing them from accessing the Internet.

Some Network Associates Inc. customers are up in arms over an update for one of the companys antivirus products that is preventing them from accessing the Internet.

The problem is caused by an update for McAfee VirusScan Professional 7.0, the companys flagship consumer antivirus application. When update 7.03 is installed on some machines running Windows 2000 or Windows XP, it prevents the PCs from connecting to the Internet after the suggested reboot. The problem seems to be affecting customers who upgraded from 7.02 to 7.03.

McAfee has pulled the update from its download servers and is performing quality checks on it, according to information on the companys Web site, but has not provided customers with any instructions on how to fix affected machines.

"I am so angry with these people its palpable. I write software and cannot believe they released a patch before thoroughly testing it," said Michael Shohoney, a VirusScan user who said his PC was down for more than six hours before he was able to restore the Internet connection.

Officials at McAfee said the company first became aware of the problem Wednesday morning when they began getting calls from European customers. After confirming the problem, they took the patch off the download server at about 1 p.m. Eastern time. McAfee plans to have a fixed version of the patch available within a few days and is also considering compensating affected customers somehow.

"Were looking at doing something like extending their license for a year or sending them a free product," said Tracy Hulver, director of product management for the McAfee consumer division. "Its not enough to say Oops, and heres the resolution. We recognize that some people were very frustrated and inconvenienced by the this."

Hulver recommends that customers uninstall VirusScan and then re-install it from the original CD to fix the problem. Customers who dont have their CDs can contact McAfee, which will send one overnight.

Some users report that uninstalling the troublesome patch and reverting to the last known good version of VirusScan restores their Internet connectivity. However, others say this hasnt worked for them.

A McAfee technical support representative writing in the sites help forums said that the company believes the problem lies in a DLL that controls the Hostile Activity Watch Kernel (HAWK), a feature that looks for malicious and "virus-like" behavior.

(Editors Note: This story has been updated since its original posting to include comments from McAfee officials.)