Malware Updates Hurts Millions Of PC Owners

A malware program’s update may have harmed millions of computers.

What happens when the doctor gets sick? ZDNet recently reported that German security company Avira released a defective antivirus update the brought Windows computers to a “screeching halt.”

With the new update, the antivirus program starts going after critical computing processes that it recognizes as malware, something that can be deadly for computers, ZDNet said. But that’s not all.

“The update is also blocking other Microsoft software (such as Microsoft Office and Microsoft Works) as well as various third-party applications, including Byki 4 Express, Documents To Go, Garmin, Google Talk, iPod and Palm services, Opera, OpenDNS Updater, Polipo, Shadow, Stickies, and many others,” ZDNet said. “In other words, almost every executable file is being falsely detected by this update.”

As you can probably imagine, customers have been none too happy about this. On the Avira forum, one user called the update “catastrophic,” and said it brought the user’s company to a complete standstill. Avira executives commented, saying they have now fixed the problem.

“We contacted all of our users to let them know about our fix to the ProActiv situation this morning,” Avira COO Travis Witteveen said in a statement, according to ZDNet. “The issue only arose on 32-bit windows premium, suite and professional products, whom had ProAktiv turned on (by default ProAktiv is a opt-in feature, so the infected base was not the entire base). We do not know the exact number of those impacted, but we are confident we reacted immediately and communicated thoroughly.”

According to security vendor Opswat, Avira products made up 11.6 percent of all operating copies of antivirus software for the first quarter of the year. This puts the firm in second place in the worldwide antivirus game. It may not be as bad for computer users stateside who have Avira, as only 4.4 percent of the North American market uses Avira.

Do you use Avira for protection? Have you been impacted? Even if you don’t use Avira, does this situation make you apprehensive about the quality of your protection?Let us know in the comments below.

Matt Williams

A self-proclaimed ‘tech geek’, Matt has worked in technology for a decade and divides his time between blogging and working in IT. A huge New York Giants fan, when not watching football Matt gets his game on playing Call of Duty with his friends and other tech bloggers.