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It seems appropriate to write about virus software as I battle a virus myself. I’m functioning much like an infected computer at the moment: very slowly.

Last week, McAfee’s enterprise update crashed Windows XP systems at corporations nationwide when the update identified a legitimate system file as malware and removed it from many systems. My husband’s computer was one such victim. Much of his department’s work came to a standstill for an afternoon.

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That night, he told me that McAfee thought computers may need to be repaired on an individual basis. Thousands of computers were affected at his company alone. Imagine the time and effort required to get things running again! Fortunately, that was not the case, and systems were live again by the following day.

I wondered why I didn’t read more in the news about this – why McAfee wasn’t getting raked over the coals. According to the very smart people at PC World, the problem doesn’t lie with McAfee individually – the entire anti-malware industry must evolve. The current model is reactionary and signature-based, so the software can only protect against an attack after it happens. Theoretically, these situations should occur regularly.

McAfee has done well managing its reputation in this scenario. The company apologized, has communicated openly and honestly, and much of the coverage focuses on the shortcomings of the industry rather than McAfee specifically. Positioning homerun. McAfee continues to follow through, now offering to reimburse technical bills incurred due to its faulty update, and offering phone support and extended subscriptions. Impact on the company’s stock is negligible.

Although malware companies like Symantec and McAfee’s products are flawed, businesses and consumers have no viable alternative, and much like sunscreen, some protection is better than none.

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