McAfee users have been urged to upgrade their antivirus software after recent virus updates caused older versions of the company's software to trigger system crashes.
The problem concerns a bug in a McAfee VirusScan virus definition file that can cause Windows-based systems to crash when restarted. Definition files update existing virus programs with information on new viruses.
The vulnerable systems are those running older versions of the VirusScan engine that are unable to read the particular virus definition file, version 4.0.4102, causing Windows 95, 98 and NT systems to crash.
Jack Clark, product manager at Network Associates, McAfee's parent company, admitted that a number of its customers who have older antivirus scanning software have experienced problems.
"This issue involves a two-year-old engine and was fixed in a matter of hours when we uploaded a different driver," said Clark, who explained that even users of older scanning software could use later virus definition files such as 4103 safely.
Clark admitted that the problem has affected a number of users, but declined to say how many. "It's caused some problems, which we've done as much as we can to minimise," he said.
Those affected by the problem, Clark explained, were running virus scanning engines that were about two years old and should consider upgrading to newer versions of McAfee's antivirus software, which are not affected by the problem.
"As much as people upgrade there are some machines in the corner that are not involved in the cycle," said Clark, who added that administrators could find out what version of software machines are running by using Network Associates' Orchestrator software distribution tool.
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