Antivirus software companies are repeatedly in the public eye due to their popularity. it’s not uncommon for a product to have 100 million+ users in this space, so as you can imagine, slip ups in updates to algorithms are rather noticeable. Here’s some of the top antivirus blunders we have seen from PC protection companies in the 30 year history of the software -
Our first great antivirus blunder in the list was only very recently discovered; in December 2015, Dark Reading (a well respected news website in the computing security industry) reported that issues with memory allocation in computers ‘made it possible to compromise AVG, McAfee and Kaspersky products’. The threat is extremely dangerous as it basically turns the antivirus software into a tool the hacker can use to collect private information or causing system corruption, exactly the opposite of what an antivirus is supposed to do. To make it even worse, all it takes is an email to be sent and received by your computer: You don’t even have to open the email! An antivirus works by scanning every file your computer receives and sends, making sure that everything is safe for you and your computer. The exploit is made possible thanks to this mechanism. The email comes with an attached file (specifically an ‘ASPack compression’ file), when the antivirus scans through it the file is unpacked, causing your computer to become infected. Without an antivirus, your computer would not be vulnerable to this exploit. The exploit can affect Windows PCs as well as Macs and Linux PCs, but don’t fear, a patch has been deployed to fix this issue.
The next big mishap from a company in the PC protection industry worth mentioning was the fault of an unnamed brand, which had far less of a detrimental effect than it potentially could have done. During the middle of a medical procedure involving the insertion of a long thin tube through the vein of a patient up to their heart, allowing the doctors to take readings of vital data (otherwise called a ‘cardiac catheterization’), the unnamable antivirus ran one of it’s regular scans which crashed the computer. The crash caused dangerous delays to the operation due to the patient having to be anaesthetized whilst the application was rebooted. Luckily, the operation was a complete success, but, as the FDA said, the mishap ‘could have results in harm to the patient’.
Our last big blooper from an antivirus brand is the fault of Avira, one of the biggest names in the industry. Back in 2012, Avira released an update which blocked almost all legitimate applications on a user’s computer. The update quarantined almost every windows executable file (files of this type end in .exe), a mistake which one customer described as ‘catastrophic’ to his company. As expected, a fix for the bug was released very quickly, but that doesn’t reduce the harm of making it impossible for over 100 million customers to open applications on their computer.